With the 2020 NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys top need seems clear. Byron Jones will play with the Miami Dolphins next season, and the Cowboys defense lacks a clear-cut number one on its defensive backfield. A top cornerback is needed to replace Jones, who's risen to the top tiers of the NFL in the last couple of seasons.
This year's cornerback class is fairly interesting. It's a crowded room, for sure. A lot of cornerbacks will be drafted in the first three rounds of this year's virtual Draft. However, the first round might not feature as many “worthy” prospects as one would imagine. Especially for pick #17.
However, can the Cowboys risk waiting until the second round to draft one?
Let's not underestimate how urgently the team needs a cornerback. Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie have yet to prove they are reliable starters in the NFL and they're both set to hit free agency in 2021. Anthony Brown signed an extension in March, but he hasn't been consistent enough in the outside to consider playing him as a starter. Brown will likely compete for snaps as a nickel defender but nothing else.
The Cowboys don't need a rotational player or a solid contributor that can develop into a starter. No, they need a week 1 starter.
The ideal scenario for Stephen Jones and Co. is finding C.J. Henderson on the board with the 17th pick. If the Florida prospect is still available, they'll have their guy. If he isn't, things can get complicated. Drafting a guy like Alabama's Trevon Diggs or TCU's Jeff Gladney will likely be considered a “reach.” Not by much, but the Cowboys could be passing on better players at other positions.
What if LSU's EDGE K'Lavon Chaisson is still there? What about addressing another position of need such as safety with Bama's Xavier McKinney? Often, we discuss the BPA (Best Player Available) as the go-to strategy in the Draft for NFL teams.
But we know better, don't we? We're not so naive. We know teams don't follow this philosophy entirely and they're maybe right.
After all, what will the cornerback position in 2021 look like for Dallas if they don't draft one early this year?
If the Cowboys decide to wait until the second round, where they own pick #51, they'll be aiming at the likes of Utah's Jaylon Johnson, LSU's Kristan Fulton, or Auburn's Noah Igbinnoghene. However, with so many cornerbacks projected as second-round prospects, a run at the position is likely to take place before Dallas as a say.
It all comes down to how much the Cowboys can afford to wait on drafting other positions versus waiting on a cornerback. At EDGE, they have Aldon Smith and Tyrone Crawford as they're still waiting to hear on a possible Randy Gregory reinstatement. At safety, they signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for insurance. Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe have us feeling good about the interior defensive line.
But cornerback? The Cowboys don't seem to have anything resembling a backup plan. Regardless of who's on the board at pick 17, the name they send in will likely be a cornerback. Even if it's considered a “reach.”