We're less than two weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft and more and more things are becoming clearer:
- The first three picks will all be quarterbacks, with only the uncertainty being what the San Francisco 49ers will do at three overall.
- Penei Sewell's ceiling is fourth overall and won't fall any lower than eighth overall to Carolina.
- Ja'Marr Chase will likely be the first receiver off the board, taken between picks five and seven overall.
- DeVonta Smith will be the next receiver taken after Chase.
- The Cowboys are guaranteed an elite prospect with their draft pick.
As the draft process has gone along, names have fallen and risen among the rankings, but the Cowboys are going to have their pick of great talent. At this point, we can safely start to assume realistic targets with the pick, both in terms of skill, need, and how they rank above others in the draft.
These are the likely players who the Cowboys will be looking at with their first overall draft pick.
Kyle Pitts is arguably the best overall player in this draft, regardless of position. He's also likely to go as early as four overall to the Atlanta Falcons.
However, if the reports are true, the Cowboys might not be waiting for him to fall in their laps with the 10th overall pick.
COWBOYS BEING THE COWBOYS- Rumor is that Jerry Jones and the #Cowboys are in love with Kyle Pitts and may try to trade up for him in the #NFLDraft. @GottliebShow thinks that’s the most Cowboy thing the Cowboys could do.
Crazier things have happened. CeeDee Lamb should have been gone before the 17th overall pick last year but he was there, ripe for the picking. Whether the Cowboys trade up to obtain Pitts or they stay put and he falls in their laps, Pitts is likely the unquestioned number one player on the Cowboys draft board.
Patrick Surtain II
There's been no player more mocked and attached to the Cowboys than Alabama Cornerback Patrick Surtain II. It's easy to see why.
He's arguably the best overall cornerback prospect in the draft and fills an obvious, major need on the defense. He's got the size (6'2″ 208-pounds) that Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn loves and had an excellent pro-day where he ran a 4.42 40, a 10'11” broad jump, 39″ vertical, and 18 reps of 225-pounds on the bench press.
He's a favorite among writers, analysts, and fans to be the Cowboys pick if he gets there at 10. If he's gone, then our next cornerback could easily be who they take instead.
Jaycee Horn is the best overall man-coverage cornerback in this year's draft and has gone from a potential trade-back candidate to a realistic option to be taken when the Cowboys pick.
Measuring in at 6'0.75″ 205-pounds, his size is very similar to Surtain's. He even tested better at the 40 (4.39), broad jump (11'1″), and vertical (41.5″) than the Alabama prospect. One of the most elite prospects in 2021.
Jaycee Horn is a CB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.99 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 2 out of 1784 CB from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/TJ155mkgJd #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/HxPslQWrGd
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 15, 2021
Horn is a great tackler and is as sticky in coverage as you can ask for. If it comes down to Surtain over Horn, Cowboys fans will be just fine.
— fishsports (@fishsports) April 15, 2021
Rashawn Slater might not be the sexiest pick but he's a long-term investment that the team could play anywhere. Whether he's insurance for Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, or if the team wanted to put Zack Martin back at tackle like they did some last season and put Slater in his place.
In either case, Slater would be a smart, solid pick that would benefit the team for a decade.
This pick is a combination of insurance, planning for the future, and keeping a prospect out of reach from the other NFC East teams picking at 11 (Giants) and 12 (Eagles).
Assuming he's fully recovered from his season-ending ankle injury, Waddle is the speed threat that could fill the role Michael Gallup could leave behind if he leaves in free agency next offseason that could make Dallas's vertical game almost impossible to stop.
He might be the least likely player taken on this list, but we shouldn't be surprised if he is. After all, so was their first-round pick last season.
Crazy to think that months ago, some people thought Caleb Farley was the best overall cornerback prospect in this year's draft. His size (6'2″ 197-pounds), athleticism, and coverage skills were elite despite opting out of the 2020 season.
Now, he's seemingly switched places with Jaycee Horn, going from a realistic option at 10 to a trade-back option due to his back issues.
The agent for Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, @DrewJRosenhaus, said a “bunch of team doctors and trainers” told him after today’s medical recheck in Indianapolis that Farley “did well with his physical regarding his back and is still expected to go in the first round.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 9, 2021
However, with the reported news of his back issues maybe not being as bad as people have speculated, he should return to where he was in the discussion for the Cowboys pick.
Understandably, this pick is going to agitate some people. Micah Parsons has great tape and was arguably the best defensive prospect going into the 2021 season after winning the Butkus Award in 2019 and was a unanimous All-American before opting out of the 2020 season.
The problem lies with what he's done off the field with his reported accounts of hazing and fighting a teammate while in school.
Regardless of if that had any part in him opting out of last season, his red flags have made it near impossible to pinpoint where he'll end up.
The reality is that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have been known to take players with red flags and attempt to mold them into professionals, not only in the draft but in free agency as well with players like Randy Gregory, Greg Hardy, Aldon Smith, and Rolando McClain.
The Cowboys need players on defense who can tackle and make plays, especially at linebacker after last season. With Sean Lee gone and possibly retiring, Leighton Vander Esch having constant injury issues, and Jaylon Smith – the team's leading tackler – having a down season last year, the linebacker position has become a major need despite signing Keanu Neal who's intending to play the SAM role.
The Cowboys need help at the position and Parsons is going to be a player they'll need to at least consider.