Talk of the Dallas Cowboys loving LSU pass rusher K'Lavon Chaisson as a 1st-round pick is heating up as the 2020 NFL Draft draws near. But is this really their greatest need, and would taking Chaisson or another edge player on Thursday night potentially leave Dallas too weak at another position?
This isn't a knock on Chaisson, who seems like a great pickup for any team with a need for a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. But while the Cowboys do need some help there, it's arguably not even one of their top three issues heading into the draft.
When I ranked Dallas' draft needs a week ago, defensive end was fourth on the list. The top three were cornerback, wide receiver, and safety.
It's a simple matter of what the Cowboys have now and going forward based on contracts. The CB position is a clear problem there with Byron Jones already gone and both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis becoming free agents next year.
And what's more, neither of those young player have shown enough yet to be relied on as a true top corner for this season.
The WR position may have Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup locked up for a while, but the #3 spot is open and that is really a starting job in the modern NFL. Randall Cobb played way more snaps last year than the second TE, backup RB, or fullback. It's a key offensive role.
Safety Xavier Woods is set to be a free agent next year and newly-signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has just a one-year contract. The Cowboys could be looking for two new starters next offseason without some investment now.
Sure, defensive end has its own problems for 2020 and beyond. But the Cowboys already have some interesting solutions in place.
There's no question that the Cowboys will miss Robert Quinn after his great contributions in 2019. But there's considerable upside in the combined potentials of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith as replacements.
With DeMarcus Lawrence still around as the franchise player on one side, Gregory and Smith are both looking at opportunities to reenter the NFL and resurrect their careers. While there's no definite answer yet on their reinstatements, all signs point to both getting another chance.
The Cowboys already have decent DE depth with Tyrone Crawford, Dorance Armstong, and Joe Jackson. But as long as just one of Gregory or Smith can find his groove again, then that guy should be able to replicate the impact Quinn had on the defense last year.
Sure, there's risk in that statement. But the odds are highly improved with both of these players making their comeback attempts on the same roster.
Despite all this, it would hardly be crazy for the Cowboys to invest in a guy like K'Lavon Chaisson. They'd have 4-5 years of his rookie contract to enjoy after and he might have more upside at this point than either Aldon or Randy.
But loading up at defensive end may leave you too weak elsewhere. And K'Lavon's presence just might stunt the maximum potential that Dallas could get from their other DE options.
Unless the Cowboys clearly think Chaisson is on a grander tier of talent to other CB, WR, or S prospects that might be available at the 17th pick, I think that draft capital could be better used elsewhere.