With the 2017 NFL Draft only three weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys are busy making final adjustments as rumors of their plans start to make the rounds.
It’s been an interesting offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. Coming off a 3-13 campaign, they knew a slew of moves wasn’t necessary to retain this team’s contender status. However, the losses they suffered during free agency were likely more than owner Jerry Jones had hoped for.
That’s why making of the most of their picks during the 2017 NFL Draft is all the more imperative. The Cowboys have a number of holes in their roster in need of addressing, and only have seven current picks to work with. While not the worst scenario to be in, it means Dallas has to be smart with who they use their picks on.
Based on what the rumor mill is churning out, there are a number of directions the Cowboys could go in come draft weekend. Even in the first round, there have been a handful of players mentioned as possible targets for America’s Favorite Team. Unfortunately, all we can do until April 27 is speculate on what the future may hold for Dallas.
So that’s what we’ll do—speculate. With that in mind, here are the latest rumors surrounding the Cowboys’ plans during the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s going to be a wild ride, with a significant piece of the 2017 season riding on whether or not Dallas gets the job done in Philadelphia.
I know this doesn’t directly impact the 2017 NFL Draft, but it seemed noteworthy for Dallas fans. The draft has been bouncing around for the last few seasons after nearly five decades in New York. It spent two years in Chicago before jumping to the City of Brotherly Love in 2017.
Now it appears Dallas could be the next home for the annual graduation ceremony of the NFL’s brightest young prospects. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Cowboys are making a push to host the party next season at the Star, their new facility in Frisco, TX. Philadelphia and Kansas City are also seen as contenders for the honor.
Yates also mentioned that the decision on the 2018 venue isn’t expected until after this year’s draft, which is set to take place April 27-29. However, chances are it’ll be difficult for anyone to turn down Dallas with their shiny new facilities and the area’s unquenchable thirst for all things football.
Unless Philadelphia knocks it out of the park this year, don’t be surprised if the 2018 NFL Draft is held in Dallas. That should come as no surprise considering Jones almost always gets what he wants.
As great as the Cowboys were in 2016, their defense definitely could have been better. While they finished as the No. 14 defense on the year, they struggled at times against the pass and continued to be haunted by an inconsistent pass rush.
So you would figure they’d focus largely on defense during the 2017 NFL Draft, right? Well not only is that assertion correct, but it may be a bit understated.
Based on this list of prospects from Albert Breer, the Cowboys are focused almost exclusively on defense. The list breaks down 18 prospects who visited or will visit Dallas this week, and only one of them is an offensive talent—USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rest are all defensive players, which makes it reasonable to assume most of their picks will be spent on that side of the ball.
Especially with lingering injury issues, depth concerns and free agency losses, the Cowboys must reload on defense. If that means spending most (or all) of their picks during the 2017 NFL Draft on defense, then so be it. Whatever it takes to get this team over the hump and back to the Super Bowl, right?
As you’ve already seen, the Cowboys appear invested in finding a new playmaker at cornerback. The losses of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr left the position light on starting-caliber talent. Luckily for Dallas, the 2017 draft class is loaded with high-upside cover men.
One who seems to be getting a large amount of interest from the Cowboys and their fans is Kevin King. The former Washington star has quietly worked his way up draft boards during the pre-draft process. Despite the class’ plethora of quality cornerbacks, King stands a decent chance of hearing his name called on Day 1.
It just so happens Dallas could be the perfect landing spot at No. 28. They’ve obviously shown significant interest in King, and their draft position fits perfectly with his current stock. His intriguing mix of size, speed and athleticism would give the Cowboys a big boost on the boundary.
Early in the process, King seemed like a mid-round talent with some skills to build upon. Especially with the rash of injuries at the position, it appears he’s primed to hear his name called during the first two rounds. He may even get a call from Jones on April 27 delivering the good news.
The Cowboys are obviously set atop the quarterback depth chart with Dak Prescott. He enjoyed a historic rookie year as Dallas’ signal caller, and heads into the 2017 campaign as one of the NFL’s most exciting young gunslingers. The depth behind him, though, is a concern.
The recent release and subsequent retirement of Tony Romo only accentuated that fact. If that isn’t bad enough, a quick glance at the roster shows us that the Cowboys are in trouble if something happens to Prescott (*knocks on wood*). Kellen Moore is the only other quarterback on the roster, which shouldn’t provide much comfort for fans.
The Cowboys could call upon Jameill Showers in case of an emergency, but he recently transitioned to safety for a reason.
A couple of mid- or late-round options for Dallas are Jerod Evans and Josh Dobbs, both of whom could use a couple of years of development. Either way, look for the team to bring another quarterback into the mix before May.
As has been the case essentially since the departure of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys need a pass-rushing upgrade. They’ve tried different tactics unsuccessfully for years, and can’t seem to crack the code when it comes to fielding quality edge rushers.
Thankfully, there should be a number of worthy candidates when Dallas is on the clock at No. 28. Two that seem to be garnering a lot of attention from the team are Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley. Both have already visited with the Cowboys, and could realistically be available at the end of Day 1.
The brother of the Houston Texans’ elite defensive end, Watt has seen his stock soar over the last couple of months. A strong showing at the Combine certainly helped his case, which has elevated his status to a potential first-round selection. The Cowboys are obviously interested (via NFL.com), especially when you consider the upside he possesses.
As for McKinley, he’s a bit more of a question mark. While considered by many as one of the best athletes of this draft, the former Bruin is undersized and is coming off a recent shoulder surgery. Still, depending on who’s available, the UCLA product could hear his name called by the Cowboys on Day 1.