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NFL Draft: Wide Receiver an Unlikely Choice for Cowboys at 17

The NFL Draft is now less than 20 days away and despite the current pandemic altering the pre-draft process for the Dallas Cowboys and NFL teams alike, their draft board and the draft plan continue to take shape. After the initial frenzy of free agency, things have gotten quiet on the player acquisition front.

Aside from the heightened excitement coming from a Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant workout, the Cowboys are likely finished with their pre-draft roster building and will now focus primarily on finding the best players possible when the draft starts on April 23rd.

One of the more popular scenarios for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason has been the idea of selecting a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. The idea of adding Jerry Jeudy, Ceedee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs, all considered top 15 prospects by most draft analysts, to the Cowboys top-five offense from 2019 sounds like a dream come true.

And while I’m certainly open to that idea and would be ecstatic if they were to draft Lamb out of the University of Oklahoma or either of the Alabama star wide receivers, several reasons point to the Cowboys looking to the defense when they go on the clock with the 17th overall pick.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

First, the Dallas Cowboys secondary has an opportunity to upgrade at both cornerback and safety in the first round of the draft. While there is significant depth at the wide receiver position, cornerback doesn’t share the same quality in the later rounds. Though the Cowboys could potentially find a starting-caliber corner in the second round, the drop off from a player like C.J. Henderson, Trevon Diggs, or Jeff Gladney in the first to Cameron Dantzler, Jaylon Johnson, and Damon Arnette in the second is significant.

Further exploration into the secondary depth chart reveals that Xavier Woods, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jourdan Lewis, and Chidobe Awuzie are each in a contract year in 2020. As things stand right now, that’s 80% of your starting secondary that will be a free agent next offseason.

The next thing to consider is the age of their starting interior defensive line. Though they’re upgrades, Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe don’t stop the Cowboys from drafting Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina at 17. Poe, McCoy, Antwaun Woods, and Trysten Hill certainly helps to bolster the Dallas Cowboys interior, but it doesn’t do much for the long-term prospects of that group.

Though it’s still much too early to write off 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill’s career, it isn’t off to a great start. Now with Rod Marinelli coaching the defensive line in Las Vegas, Hill’s biggest proponent isn’t here to push for him. New Cowboys Defensive Line Coach may be able to get the best out of Hill, but he also won’t have a long leash for him either.

Kinlaw is a potential game-wrecker on the interior of the defensive line that could be far too enticing for the Cowboys to pass up even if one of the top three wide receivers are still on the board.

Finally, the Cowboys wide receiver duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup might be one of the five-best wide receiver combinations in the NFL. The Cowboys just invested in Amari Cooper and  Michael Gallup has two more years on his third-round rookie contract. If they have hopes of extending Gallup next offseason or re-signing him in the 2022 offseason, it makes it unlikely they’d invest a first round pick at the position as well.

Wide receiver is probably the deepest position in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys could certainly find someone to start from day one in the slot and be an instant contributor in three wide receiver sets. That depth affords them the opportunity to focus on their defense in the first round of the draft.

It would be amazing to see the Cowboys lineup in 11-personnel (3 wide receivers, 1 running back, 1 tight end) with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Blake Jarwin, Ezekiel Elliott, and Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, or Henry Ruggs III. The Cowboys offense, on paper, would be incredibly difficult to stop. Opposing defensive coordinators would be up at all hours of the night trying to figure out where to focus their defense’s attention.

If you were to list the Cowboys needs on draft day, wide receiver would likely be far down your list. They could use a wide receiver to come in and help them in the slot, but it’s certainly possible that the option is either in-house or a reunion with a former Cowboys wide receiver.

The Cowboys have options that will allow them to forgo drafting a wide receiver in the first round. It’s a fun idea and would almost guarantee the Dallas Cowboys would have one of the best offenses in football in 2020. Unfortunately, there are too many holes on the defense in 2020 and in the future for the Cowboys to draft what would, in essence, be a luxury selection.

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. I think it depends what they do free agent wise between now and the draft. I also don’t think they have that many wholes to fill on defense.

    If they sign a good free agent DE, i don’t see how you pass on a top 3 WR in round 1. Then grab a CB round 2.

  2. I agree!! Hopefully Xavier Mckinney is the best player available for us in the first round!! He’s obviously my first choice for us in the first round of this year’s draft!! There are some corners I like in the 1st round too, but I just think that we have over looked the safety position for far too long now and it’s time for us to get a game changer for once!! I know we need a number 1 corner, but if we can get Xavier Mckinney…. He can play anywhere in the secondary for us!! He can play the slot, he can cover the tight ends he can play SS or he can play FS…. He can even rush the passer!! That’s why I’d rather pick him in the 1st round and then go corner in the 2nd round!!

  3. It would be nice to see the Cowboys use common sense and select the best player available, whether on offense or defense, but I do agree that if there is a player to fill a hole in the defense is better, then adding a receiver. The band aid approach doesn’t always work.

  4. What if the best player available is one of the top receivers? I know it has been addressed, but it needs to be empathized that best available is always the smart decision, let’s remember the reach pick of The Taco!!
    I just hope we can ad thenpieces we need to be competitive!!

  5. What if the best player available is one of the top receivers? I know it has been addressed, but it needs to be empathized that best available is always the smart decision, let’s remember the reach pick of The Taco!!
    I just hope we can ad thenpieces we need to be competitive!!

  6. If Lamb or Judy are still available at 17 you have to take which ever is there. Although there’s no way either of them are available at 17. I would be amazed if Ruggs is available either

  7. I agree we need to pick defense. But if Jerry judy or lamb is there and they are the best available then we need to get them. We could potentially trade cooper next year or the year after to get out of that contract and still still have Two top receivers on the cheap. We can always trade up in the 2nd and get two quality players on the defense

  8. Rex “ton of turd” ryan is a disgrace. just like his chicken sh*t father and slob brother. What a J.O. why did anyone give that pile of dog crap a microphone. ESPN has been on a downward spiral for years, now they are scraping the manure heap.

    • Agree, Rex is an a-hole. But he is not he only one on ESPN and other sport shows. AND sick of politics being brought into these shows. Stick to SPORTS, A-HOLES. You can barely get that right!

  9. The ONLY player we take at 17 IF Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs are gone is the CB from Florida, Henderson. We need a safety, but there’s 6 of them that are all about equal. Adding a Ruggs to our WR core makes us the most dangerous offensive team in the league.

  10. If the a receiver is there, pick him. If he happens to pan out, trade Amari the following year and free up cap space for three years. I also have another option. It seems to me that the team is not as high on Dak as some of the analysts are, I say try to trade him to a team like the dolphins, get 2 first rounders, pick your receiver, your QB of the future and your CB or SS, then go out and sign Cam Newton for two years and let QB heal or develop for less money. Cam still has juice and something to prove.

  11. If the a receiver is there, pick him. If he happens to pan out, trade Amari the following year and free up cap space for three years. I also have another option. It seems to me that the team is not as high on Dak as some of the analysts are, I say try to trade him to a team like the dolphins, get 2 first rounders, pick your receiver, your QB of the future and your CB or SS, then go out and sign Cam Newton for two years and let QB heal or develop for less money. Cam still has juice and something to prove.

    • The team is very high on him. They’ve stated that he’s their quarterback. From Jerry, to Stephen, to Will, to Mike McCarthy. They all expect he’ll be their quarterback for the next ten years.

  12. Delton April 5 2 47 am the Cowboys for sure need another Qb This is getting ridiculous about this contract with Dak If Cowboys want to have a salary cap in years to come need to start thinking about what’s best for team not one individual Dak has to realize he will get paid but he doesn’t play on the defense side of the ball he’s hurting this team We lost Quinn because of this contract

      1. The Cap is going to explode over the next several years.

      2. Dak’s money doesn’t keep you from doing what you need to do to fill out the roster. We didn’t lose Quinn because of his contract. We lost Quinn because they didn’t want to sign Quinn. They still have money on the Cap that they could have used for Quinn, but they chose not to.

  13. If there was anyway to trade dak and zeke to cincy for 1st pick and Joe mixon in return. That would be a dream scenario that could sculpt the cowboys franchise towards a fun handful of years.
    One can wish right?

    • I wouldn’t do that. You have Zeke who you just gave a $90 million deal to and you have Dak who has proven to be a franchise quarterback. Only one team has won more games in the NFL during Dak’s tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.

  14. Pick a multiposistion player that can contribute 100 plus every play! A guy with the ability to win games and boost moral for the whole team and fans.a man with something to prove and refuses to quit till his dreams come true!
    The results of that kind of player will be SUPERBOWL BLING RING FOR THE TEAM AND J.J.GETS THE LOMBARDI TROPHY WELL DESERVED DONT YA THINK?

  15. THE LAST 2 PICKS FOR THE COWBOYS THE TACO AND HILL HAVE BEEN BUSTS
    LET GET A RECIEVER AND BE A DANGEROUS OFFENSE BECAUSE POINTS WINS GAMES
    SPEEDY RUGGS FOR ME

  16. Please no more corners drafted in the first 2 Rounds. They suck at drafting them. Claiborne, Jones, Awuzie all rot fkn shit.They get no fkn interceptions year in and year out. A fkn disgrace. Take an impact Edge Rusher in the first, wr in 2nd and corner in 3rd round.

  17. CB seems to be a definite need in the draft, maybe in the 1st Rd WR class is very good and deep, so getting a good one after the 1st round is very possible. So where does a safety pick come in. Can we find a DB who has the flex to play both CB and S positions?

    YES. Someone like Antoine Winfield Jr is a player who has the FLEXIBILITY to play Safety AND CB. He has GREAT INSTINCTS, is a good blitzer, is a TAKEAWAY MACHINE, and has great bloodlines. We know the Cowboys need more TURNOVERS. I think he would be a great pick in 2nd or possibly 3rd round.

    So here is my mock right now:

    1 CJ Henderson CB, Florida
    2 Yetur Gross-Matos DE, Penn State
    3 Antoine Winfield Jr S, Minnesota
    4 KJ Hill WR, Ohio State
    5 Rashard Lawrence DT, LSU
    6 Darryl Williams C, Miss State
    7 Evan Weaver LB, California

    • I think this would be a great draft for The Boys. Although I would be surprised if Gross-Matos made it 51 and Winfield made it to 82.

  18. One of the areas I believe that the Boys have to address is a back up QB than can step in and not miss a beat if Dak was to go down ! Everybody that knows anything about football knows that CR is not going to preform at a level to win in the NFL! I honestly would rather have Tim Tebow than Rush! Remember when Troy was injured and Steve stepped in ? Every championship team doesn’t have a quality backup QB but those that do increase their chances greatly !! With this said I’m not saying we should take a QB high in the draft but we need to add a backup that can come in and win!

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