Sep 17, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Texas A&M Aggies lineman Myles Garrett (15) tackles Auburn Tigers quarterback Sean White (13) during the first quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
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It may have been said halfway in jest, but this is Jerry Jones and this is the Dallas Cowboys. Trading is an NFL business they helped perfect.
One thing that is clear about this team is it’s close to a Super Bowl. They went 13-3 in 2016 despite fielding rookies at both quarterback and running back. In the end it was their defense that let them down, allowing 34 points to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. A big issue? As always it was the pass rush. The stat line will show Dallas sacked Rodgers three times, but what it won’t show without a closer look is that all three sacks came from defensive backs.
That means the Cowboys were only able to get home when they blitzed. Not ideal for a team that wants to win a championship. They still badly need a pass rusher who can bring it all together. Perhaps the time has come to think big. Really big.
Their latest mock draft reflects just how much.
1st Round (via CLE)
Cowboys get #1 pick
Browns get #28 pick, 2nd in 2017, 3rd in 2017, 1st in 2018, 2nd in 2018, QB Tony Romo and OL La’El Collins
DE, Texas A&M
Is it a lot? Absolutely. Giving up two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, a 3rd round picks and a promising young offensive lineman is a ton. Not to mention the security blanket of somebody like Tony Romo at backup quarterback. Fortunately the team has ways to navigate the problems. Losing the picks is difficult, but they’re mostly a young team who can survive for a time. Re-signing Ronald Leary would cover up the loss of Collins as well.
The big question of course is whether Myles Garrett is worth such a massive price tag. Given his talent level, fit to the Cowboys scheme, Texas background and filling of a need? Yes he is. Garrett is a generational talent. Big and strong but also a supreme athlete who can explode of the snap and make every rush seems almost effortless at times. He is good for double digit sacks every year, especially under the watchful eye of Rod Marinelli.
Dec 3, 2016; Laramie, WY, USA; San Diego State Aztecs cornerback Damontae Kazee (23) waves to the crowd after game against the Wyoming Cowboys at the Mountain West Championship college football game at War Memorial Stadium. The Aztecs beat the Cowboys 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
CB, San Diego State
Free agency really threatens to gut the cornerback position for the Cowboys. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will both be hitting the market. Not to mention Joshua Thomas as well. It’s not like the position was overly strong to begin with too. That means they have to address that position in the draft at some point. Though the trade limits their ammunition in this regard, the presence of a strong class helps out.
Damontae Kazee will be pigeonholed by some for being a “zone” corner only. In other words he might not live well in man coverage. Then again his playmaking skill is hard to miss. Few were better at the Senior Bowl play off coverage and making hard breaks to the football. He has instinct, quickness and ball skills. Best of all the Cowboys run a 4-3 system where zone corners can often thrive.
Improving the defensive line doesn’t have to end with Garrett. There are other options in this draft class if one knows where to look. Tanzel Smart was a name that popped up a few times at the Senior Bowl. Though he’s somewhat undersized at 6’1″, his quickness and explosion make him a classic three-technique interior pass rusher. At worst he’ll make good depth but there is enough upside to become a starter.
7th Round (via BUF)
Terrance Williams is going to be a free agent. This will put pressure on the Cowboys to keep the wide receiver position bolstered around Dak Prescott during a vital development period. K.D. Cannon is far from polished as a pass catcher with a limited route tree and average size. However, he has game-breaking vertical speed that could become devastating if cultivated properly. In the meantime he could be lethal off play action in that run-heavy system.
OG, Tennessee State
Don’t expect the Cowboys to go the entire draft without at least trying to bolster the depth along the offensive line. Retaining Leary will keep the left guard position intact, but they will still need a body behind him. Jessamen Dunker showed a lot of intriguing promise at the Senior Bowl. He’s quite an athlete for that position but it became clear his core strength isn’t there yet. Given some time, this could end up being a hidden gem.