It’s really easy to get excited about free agency and the additions the Dallas Cowboys have made in the first few days of the player acquisition period. The Dallas Cowboys have added Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle, re-signed Blake Jarwin, Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin, signed Maurice Canaday at cornerback, and added Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety.
Despite those signings, they won’t preclude the Dallas Cowboys from spending premium picks at similar positions in the 2020 NFL Draft.
As we’ve seen the Cowboys work in previous offseasons, they often use free agency to fill obvious holes in order to go into the draft with clear eyes — and full hearts — focused on the draft board that they’ve spent months putting together. Free from viewing the board through the lens of filling needs, the Cowboys will be able to add talent in an area that will allow them to upgrade a position this season or fill a future need.
Gerald McCoy is likely the presumptive starter at 3-technique defensive tackle for 2020, but the Cowboys can find a player or two to supplement the interior of their defensive line. Though McCoy’s under contract through the 2022 season, it’s essentially a two-year deal there isn’t so much guaranteed money on his deal that the Cowboys couldn’t move on if they were to draft a Javon Kinlaw in the first round or someone like Justin Madubuike in the second round.
Adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a nice move and if you need him to start for you this season, the Cowboys will be solid in the secondary. However, if, in this deep class of safeties, there’s one Dallas really likes, then they can feel free to draft that player to compete for playing time with Clinton-Dix and eventually take over as the starter in 2021. Clinton-Dix is on a one year deal and the other presumed starter, Xavier Woods, is scheduled to be a free agent next offseason. Though safety doesn’t look like a need right now, in 12 months it becomes a significant need.
Cornerback is the position that still needs some work in the draft. Sure, the depth chart is pretty full with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Maurice Canaday, and C.J. Goodwin, but there isn’t really a shutdown cornerback in the bunch. They have a nice group of players that can provide solid play and production, but they aren’t so good that the Cowboys can ignore cornerback in the draft. Also, with Awuzie and Lewis set to be free agents in 2021, the Cowboys will still have a need for a starting corner this time next year if they don’t address the position in this year’s draft.
The one thing the Dallas Cowboys are still missing is a slot wide receiver. It’s possible the Cowboys could look to fill that spot from within. Though they don’t have a player that is specifically a slot player, Amari Cooper is a very effective player from the slot. They could use Devin Smith on the outside in three-wide receiver sets and move Cooper into the slot. In turn, they could also deploy Tony Pollard in the slot, where he was very effective in college. Basically, the Cowboys have options that will keep them from forcing something at wide receiver during the draft.
Having freedom in the draft to follow their draft board is a strategy that’s generally worked well for them in recent years. With more than a month to go before the draft, the Dallas Cowboys will continue to solidify their roster from top to bottom to put themselves in a position to find the most talented player at a spot that could be upgraded in 2020 or will be a need in 2021. Though these early free agent moves aren’t blockbusters, they’re important building blocks for the way the Cowboys want to build their roster in 2020 and beyond.