As the NFL Draft gets closer and closer, fans around the world start thinking long and hard about the prospects who could potentially interest their favorite team and whether or not they'll be available when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell states they're on the clock.
When teams have one of the top selections, the anticipation is very fun. The Dallas Cowboys held the fourth overall pick in 2016 and everyone was super excited to see who Dallas ended up with. Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalen Ramsey and even Jared Goff were in the Cowboys Nation discussion.
Holding the 19th overall pick, though... is different.
At times it's stressing to think how likely it is to see a wiped-out board with players who'd qualify as a reach on that spot. It's an awkward place to draft, especially in a Draft class that's very thin at different positions.
So naturally, it's time to talk about the possibility of seeing a trade. Last week I wrote about whether or not the Cowboys should seriously considering trading up. My fellow writer Kevin Brady wrote about a very interesting trade scenario just a few days ago.
Today, let's dive in to which players could the Dallas Cowboys target if they decide to trade down from 19.
In the Trenches: Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez
The Cowboys need help at their offensive line. Despite counting with three All-Pros in Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith plus a talented La'el Collins, help is needed in the interior. Personally, I was pretty disappointed by the front office letting Jonathan Cooper walk, for I'd dare say he did a decent job when he took over Chaz Green's spot as the starting left guard.
In February, I wrote about why the Cowboys shouldn't draft a guard at 19. However, now that the first waves of free agents have come and gone, it feels more like a need now than it did a couple of months ago.
Both of these guards could be long gone before the Joneses are on the clock, but they also could be available past their pick. Listen, as much as we hate to admit it, the truth is there actually exists a positional value in this league. Guard is a position that's rarely taken in the first round of the Draft.
If the Cowboys look to trade down, their priority should be landing either Georgia's Isaiah Wynn or UTEP's Will Hernandez to have the most dominant line in the NFL by far.
Linebacker Help: Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans
Many people are convinced when they say linebacker isn't a first round need for this football team. I beg to differ. I won't deny that Sean Lee is very talented and easily one of the best (if not the best) player on the roster. Neither do I forget the existence of Jaylon Smith, who's health is reportedly improving even more and should be ready to breakout in 2018.
Even though, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens in free agency and we shouldn't overlook what he meant to this defense in 2017.
Although Lee and Smith could make for one of the best LB duos in the NFL, Dallas could find a little more certainty in the position by taking either of these linebackers.
Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds will be long gone, but Alabama's Evans and Boise State's Vander Esch could still be found if the Cowboys trade down a few spots.
Another One: Wide Receivers...
The wide receiver room will be undoubtedly one of the most intriguing to watch once the season arrives. The Cowboys have many well-known names with a lot of talent there, yet a lot of uncertainty after a very disappointing season.
The Allen Hurns signing does calm down the team's need for a receiver, but after hearing about all the WR prospects the Cowboys are looking at, it may be too early to rule the position out of the first round.
Many could be available when the Cowboys are set to pick. Calvin Ridley should be gone by then, but fortunately, it's a deep WR class.
Maryland's D.J. Moore (who has become one of Cowboys Nation's favorites), SMU's Courtland Sutton, Texas A&M's Christian Kirk and even Oklahoma State's James Washington could all be in the Cowboys' sights.
Safety: Jessie Bates, Ronnie Harrison and Justin Reid
Safety is one of those team needs that seem to have been overlooked by many fans. Especially with talk of Byron Jones moving to CB, Dallas might be in a tough spot in their defensive backfield, and there's definitely reason for concern.
There were rumors surrounding a trade for Earl Thomas, mentions of Kenny Vaccaro as a potential signing, but nothing happened.
Now, the Cowboys could look for a safety in the first round of the Draft. The question is, which safety is worth the 19th overall pick? After Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick, there doesn't seem to be a lot of value.
Ronnie Harrison, Jessie Bates and Justin Reid could be guys who interest Dallas, but it does seem like drafting any of them at their original spot will be a reach. If the front office is able to get some later picks by trading down a few spots, call it a win for the Cowboys.
The funny thing, is that a lot of these players are guys who have been linked to the Cowboys at the 19th spot. A trade down might just be the way to go come Draft Day. Unless the draft pick compensation is strong though, they'll have to be very careful not to climb down a bit too much, because they could end up with no one worth drafting.
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should Cowboys DT Jihad Ward Be Getting More Attention?
Star Blog3 days ago
ESPN Proposes Trade Offer To Bring Earl Thomas To Dallas
Star Blog6 days ago
Cowboys Trade For DT Jihad Ward Already Paying Off?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Could Connor Williams Actually Define the Cowboys’ Season?
Star Blog5 days ago
Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?
Star Blog1 week ago
Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
5 Winners from Dallas Cowboys OTAs and Minicamp
Player News2 weeks ago
Report: Cowboys Sign OL Zack Martin To 6 Year Deal