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NFL Draft: The Only Way Wide Receiver at 17 Works for the Cowboys

There’s been a big push among Cowboys fans and draft analysts alike to give the Dallas Cowboys one of the top wide receivers with their 17th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Players like Ceedee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, and Jerry Jeudy are very intriguing prospects that could take the Dallas Cowboys offense to another level. The allure of scoring 30 points a game (and pushing for 40 most weeks) is as attractive as the statue that Apu was looking at in the Cave of Wonders.

Who doesn’t love a good offensive show? The Dallas Cowboys have a lot already invested on the offensive side of the ball. They certainly could continue to build on it to assure that it will be one of the best in the NFL, not just in 2020 but for years to come. Amari Cooper’s contract is virtually a two-year deal, and Michael Gallup will be a free agent after the 2021 season. So the Dallas Cowboys could have a future need in a lead wide receiver if they decide to move on from one or both of their current top two receivers.

Given the needs on the defensive side of the ball, it’s easy to look at wide receiver at 17 as a luxury pick for the Cowboys. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both went over 1,000 yards receiving in 2019 while averaging more than 15 yards per reception. They showed to be a dynamic 1-2 receiving punch that should take another step forward in 2020 as Amari Cooper gets healthier, and Michael Gallup takes another step forward.

Adding to those two with a top 17 selection in the draft would be a ton of fun, but how would it work?

Admittedly, this draft class looks to be incredibly deep at wide receiver. Analysts anticipate anywhere from 3-6 going in the first round, and many think that 2020 will set a record for the most receivers drafted. This depth might lead teams to pass on a wide receiver in the top half of the first round.

Positional value also puts a heavier emphasis on selecting other positions as well. Here’s a way that one of the top three wide receivers could be on the board when the Cowboys go on the clock at pick 17.

  • There are a ton of teams that could use an offensive tackle and there are at least four that could go in the first 16 picks.
  • Quarterback is always a hot commodity, and with Joe Burrow, Tua Tagavoila, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love, there’s a chance for a run on quarterbacks in the first 16 selections.
  • Finding players that can cover is a huge deal as well. Jeffrey Okudah is likely a top-three pick. In many mock drafts, C.J. Henderson is long gone by the time the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock at pick 17. If teams feel the need to get their cornerback early, Kristian Fulton and Trevon Diggs could find their way into the top 16.
  • It feels inevitable that Derrick Brown, the defensive tackle from Auburn will be off the board in the top 10 and fellow SEC Defensive Tackle Javon Kinlaw could join him. Those two are game wreckers that make things happen in both the run game and as pass rushers.
  • Xavier McKinney from Alabama has a chance to go in the first 16 picks. He’s a do it all safety that teams that want to utilize versatile coverages would love to have.
  • Chase Young from Ohio State is the best player in the draft for most analysts and will probably go number two to the Washington Redskins.

That’s 16 players that could all theoretically go off the board in the first 16 picks. You throw in names like K’Lavon Chaisson, Patrick Queen, and Grant Delpit from LSU and Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma, and theoretically, the Cowboys could be sitting on the board with all three of the top wide receivers in the draft available.

Dallas Cowboys 2020 7-round Mock Draft: Post NFL Combine Edition 7
Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) salutes the fans against LSU during the second half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. LSU won 46-41. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Last week, I wrote that it’s unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys would take a wide receiver at 17, given the needs that they have at edge rusher, interior defensive line, cornerback, and safety. However, if one of their other defensive targets were gone and they were looking at Lamb, Ruggs, and Jeudy as potential options and weren’t able to trade back, then drafting one of these three wide receivers makes a ton of sense.

In the draft, you always have to balance “best player available” with the current and near-future needs of the team. That’s why cornerback has become a popular target for the Cowboys since the Byron Jones departure. Next offseason Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are potential free agents. Xavier Woods and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are as well. The Cowboys will need to address the defensive backfield at some point in this draft to prepare for the inevitable departure of one or more starters next offseason.

However, if there isn’t a player at a position of need that you love at 17, and you aren’t able to trade back, adding a dynamic playmaker to the offensive side of the ball isn’t a bad thing. Dak Prescott showed that he was capable of slinging the ball around last season. Another weapon on the outside could further that truth in 2020.

Adding Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, or Henry Ruggs to a team that was one of the best offenses in football in 2019 would put them in among the elite in the NFL. They would be incredibly difficult to stop. Defensive coordinators would struggle to determine where to allocate their resources. Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore would have a field day scheming for their offensive weaponry.

Ep 29: Dallas Cowboys and NFL Draft Needs Update by Inside The Cowboys

John Williams of catches you up on the lastest with the Dallas Cowboys and updates you on the current draft needs the Cowboys will be looking to fill in the 2020 NFL Draft.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. Like your thoughts, John. I’ve been thinking about this myself. It’s hard to know what their draft board looks like. Let’s assume they stay at 17. While the party line is “best player available”, they’re not taking a QB or an RB at 17, for example, and I doubt a LB (unless something crazy happens). Isaiah Simmons is a guy you didn’t include who should be off before 17. From what I’ve seen, the consensus is that all 3 of those WRs should be gone too (4 QBs, Young, Brown, Simmons, 4 OTs, Okudah, Henderson for 13 spots; but those 3 WRs could be the other 3 slots as they’re in the top 12 of ESPNs overall rankings). But Jefferson and Reagor are really good too, especially at the slot position. I think they’ll likely go defense given two stats from last year: 19th in sacks, tied for dead last in INTs (7). Then if the WR is deep, finding a quick slot guy shouldn’t be a problem.

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