A fall to earth last season meant the Dallas Cowboys were in for some changes in 2018. It didn’t help that the NFL saddled Ezekiel Elliott with a ridiculous suspension. Still, all that’s behind them now.
The Cowboys have a talented roster and made up for cutting wide receiver Dez Bryant by adding Allen Hurns as a free agent. Now head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones must plug in a few more pieces in the draft to compete with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Here’s what they should do.
Round 1, Pick 19: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
2017: 37 tackles, two for a loss, two interceptions, 15 passes defended (5-10, 191 pounds)
The Cowboys were already weak at corner before they started cutting players and letting free agents walk. There’s no way they can avoid taking Ward if he falls to them here. He’s a Day One starter and could form one of the more talented young secondaries in the league with Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie.
Round 2, Pick 50: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
2017: 38 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, five sacks, two passes defended (6-3, 250 pounds)
I’ve seen Landry pegged to go all over the place, from the middle of the first round to the third. He’s really small for what the Cowboys need in a pass rusher, but he knows how to use his body and would be an immediate performance upgrade over Tyrone Crawford.
Round 3, Pick 81: Quin Blanding, Safety, Virginia
2017: 136 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, two passes defended (6-2, 210 pounds)
There’s a good chance second-year safety Xavier Woods could be the long-term answer for Dallas at their other safety position. Still, it doesn’t hurt to add talented back ups like Blanding. With the trouble the Cowboys have had fielding five healthy and NFL-ready defensive backs in recent years, they shouldn’t be afraid to load up.
Round 4, Pick 116: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
2017: 58 catches, 734 yards, six touchdowns (6-1, 210 pounds)
Right now the Cowboys are looking at a starting three of Hurns, Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley. It’s not horrible, but they need help, especially downfield on the outside. Cain is used to playing with a playmaking, mobile quarterback and could develop a rapport early with Dak Prescott when he’s forced into making sandlot plays.
Round 4, Pick 137: Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
2017: 25 catches, 376 yards, five touchdowns (6-5, 248 pounds)
How much longer is Jason Witten going to play? My guess is, one more year. Thomas probably isn’t the guy that can take his place, but the Cowboys need to roll the dice and bring in tight ends for the future.
Round 5, Pick 171: Christian Sam, ILB, Arizona State
2017: 127 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, three sacks, one interception, one pass defense, one forced fumble (6-2, 237 pounds)
Sam was a tackling machine for the Sun Devils and has the ability to move outside if the Cowboys need him to.
Round 6, Pick 192: Godwin Igwebuike, Safety, Northwestern
2017: 78 tackles, one for a loss, two interceptions, eight passes defended, one fumble recovery (6-0, 212 pounds)
We’re still adding defensive backs. Iqwebuike is solid in pass coverage and isn’t afraid to lower his head and tackle at the line.
Round 6, Pick 193: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
2017: 48 tackles, four for a loss, one sack, one interception, eight passes defended (6-0, 185 pounds)
Averett has starter potential and could end up alongside Ward and Awuzie as Dallas’ nickle guy before season’s end.
Round 6, Pick 208: Van Smith, Safety, Clemson
2017: 49 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, one interception, one pass defense, one fumble recovery (5-11, 195 pounds)
Smith is underrated coming out of Clemson. While he likely won’t compete with Woods or Jones for a starting spot, he can contribute on special teams and develop down the road.
Round 7, Pick 236: DeQuinton Osborne, DT, Oklahoma State
2017: 44 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, six sacks, one fumble recovery (6-0, 305 pounds)
Dallas finally found a semblance of a pass rush last year. It’s time to keep adding to it with a value pick in the final round of the draft.
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