Dallas Cowboys Draft Capsule: Will Cowboys target Dez’ replacement?
19. DALLAS COWBOYS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Cowboys slid from NFC-best 13 wins to out of playoffs for several reasons, some likely to be addressed in draft. QB Dak Prescott couldn’t match numbers from NFL Offensive Rookie of Year season in 2016. Offensive line was inconsistent because of injuries, and left guard is need with Jonathan Cooper leaving in free agency. Star WR Dez Bryant had third straight subpar season since signing $70 million contract and was released to avoid big salaries and cap hits in final two years. Team didn’t get many big plays from receivers. Because Prescott and OL weren’t as good, Cowboys couldn’t overcome star RB Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension for domestic violence allegations. Cowboys were playing their best when 2016 NFL rushing leader’s legal options ran out eight games into season. Dallas lost first three without him, couldn’t recover to make postseason. Defense was again solid but lacking dynamic playmakers beyond DE DeMarcus Lawrence, second in NFL with 14 1/2 sacks.
THEY NEED: WR, LB, S, OL, DT, TE
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, CB, QB
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; G Will Hernandez, UTEP; S Derwin James, Florida State; T Kolton Miller, UCLA; WR D.J. Moore, Maryland; WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama; WR Courtland Sutton, SMU; DT Vita Vea, Washington.
OUTLOOK: If Cowboys don’t go WR in first round, they will be counting on free agent Allen Hurns to replace Bryant as No. 1 receiver. Hurns flashed potential in four years at Jacksonville, but never big numbers. With Sean Lee‘s history of injuries and lingering uncertainty over Jaylon Smith‘s recovery from bad college knee injury, LB remains priority. Cowboys let steady, versatile Anthony Hitchens go in free agency. Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith‘s injury issues exposed lack of depth on OL, so fourth first-rounder in eight years wouldn’t be shock. Could be tackle or guard because Cowboys might consider moving La’el Collins back to LG from RT. If Prescott and Elliott find rookie form again, outlook brightens considerably with right help in draft. If not and Cowboys miss playoffs, franchise could end up in transition with firing of coach Jason Garrett and cloudy future for Prescott two years after Dallas turned to him by releasing Tony Romo, who retired.
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