The Dallas Cowboys need help at a few key positions. Chief among them is their offensive line. If Jerry Jones wants to make sure Dak Prescott stays upright these coming years, investing top draft capital in the trenches will help ensure he does so.
Likewise, there's another conundrum facing the Cowboys, and that's their safety group. The team could certainly offer Jayron Kearse a new deal, but this offseason, the Cowboys will be facing financial constraints with regard to both free agency and their own roster. Knowing that they'll be limited in pursuing big-name free agents, the draft will offer some intriguing solutions.
With that being said, let's take a look at one conceivable scenario that Dallas might encounter this April.
Who should the Cowboys target in the first two rounds?
Round 1, Pick 24 – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Dallas needs an upgrade over Tyron Smith, more so due to his inability to stay healthy, and Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning would provide exactly that. At six-foot-seven and 321 pounds, Penning possesses the physical tools and natural size to be an effective NFL tackle. Unless Tyler Linderbaum falls to 24, no other pick makes sense here for Jones.
While he played right tackle in college, Penning offers upside on the left side due to his explosiveness and noteworthy movement, as his fluid hips allow him to match any incoming pass rushers off the edge. That is especially true when dealing with smaller or lighter defenders.
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Not only will Penning be able to guard Prescott, but he'll also be an asset in the Cowboys' run game as well. He's a perfect blend of brute raw strength that allows him to floor defenders, but his speed and motor let him reach the defense's second level as well on a consistent basis. The fact is, the Cowboys need someone with a violent mean streak to keep Prescott's pocket clean, and that's exactly what Penning will do.
Round 2, Pick 56 – Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
The decision to go with a safety will largely hinge on what Jones does with Kearse and, by extension, whether he wants to go with a free agent such as Marcus Maye. However, drafting Baylor's Jalen Pitre would be a long-term solution that would not cost the team money right away.
Pitre was a ballhawk in his last two years at Baylor, accumulating four interceptions and nine pass deflections. He was sixth in the Big 12 with the aforementioned pass deflections and was fifth in the conference with three forced fumbles. It's obvious that Pitre is always around the ball, and he's consistently looking to make a play on it.
While he won't be the hybrid that Kearse currently is, he could pack on some mass, and eventually that will help. Pitre's tenacity and fearlessness when going after bigger blockers while being fundamentally sound in maintaining his gap assignment is noteworthy. His physical style of play will translate into the NFL as well.
Quinn could also make use of Pitre's pass-rushing abilities. With eight career sacks at Baylor, Pitre showed he could get past blockers to make his way to the quarterback. Overall, this would be an interesting prospect for the Cowboys if he falls to the 56th pick.