21 October 2020

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Draft Preview: Dallas Cowboys

Going into the 2019 season the Dallas Cowboys were going all-in on making the playoffs and had no choice but to make the playoffs as many players would become free agents after the season as many players signed in the off-season were on a 1-year deal. Most notable players set to become free-agents were quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper,  cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Sean Lee, and receiver Randall Cobb Dallas knew this was their year to go big or go home as they would not have the cap space to resign all key players.

The Cowboys started off the season with an impressive record of 3-0 and looked like they were in for a promising year, but in old Cowboy fashion, things turned bad quickly as they would end up at 3-3 by week 6. The Cowboys were terrific in games against teams with losing records but when it came down to beating a team with a winning record they just couldn’t pull it off. Dallas missed the playoffs as they finished off the season with a record of  8-8, and with many players leaving in free agency they must fill many spots in their team. The Cowboys have a total of 7 picks in the 2020 draft here are some positions they could look to address with them.

Defensive End 

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The Cowboys desperately need some help up front as they had trouble taking down the quarterback as they finished the 2019 season with the 14th fewest sacks recording 39 sacks. The Cowboys lost defensive end, Tyrone Crawford, after he underwent season-ending hip surgery early in the season forcing Dallas to go out and trade for defensive end Michael Bennett in hopes of filling the hole Crawford left.

The turnout was pretty good considering the Cowboys only gave up a 6th round pick for Bennett as he would go on to record 4 sacks and 1 pass deflections in 9 games for the Cowboys. Bennett was one of the many players who were on an expiring contract and with him still being a free agent it looks like the Cowboys won’t be bringing back Bennet for another year.

The Cowboys d-line took an even bigger hit when they lost defensive end Robert Quinn who was their 2019 sack leader with an impressive 11.5 his first time hitting double digits sacks since 2014. Quinn also had 3 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 13 tackles for loss, and 22 QB hits, is one of Dallas’s most productive d-line players his departure from the team will be felt next year.

A prospect the Cowboys could look to add to boost up their d-line is K’Lavon Chaisson who is a versatile player as he played defensive end and outside linebacker for LSU last year. Chaisson is a player who can develop into a dangerous pass rusher recording 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass deflections in 2019 and showed his toughness as he dealt with an ankle injury throughout the season. Chaisson showed off his speed and athleticism as he was able to cover receivers when LSU lined him up at outside linebacker boosting up his stock for the draft. Chaisson can become a starter by week 1 and turn into the Cowboys next bright star on the defensive side of the ball. 

Cornerback

Dallas took another big hit in free agency when they let their best cornerback Byron Jones sign a deal with the Miami Dolphins that would max him a top paid corner. This was a tough decision as the Cowboys knew they couldn’t pay Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott and Jones big money and all signs pointed to letting Jones walk in free agency. Jones recorded 6 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble with only a few stats Jones was still considered a top corner as his coverage was one of the best in the league as he was targeted 53 times and allowed 30 completions.

Jones’s current replacement is Anthony Brown who was targeted 22 times and allowed 13 receptions on his few minutes of playtime in 201, but on the bright side, he did have 5 pass deflections only 1 less than Jones. The Cowboys failed to land another top cornerback in free agency making it a must to draft a cornerback in this year preferably in the 2nd round.

A prospect to look out for is Jaylon Johnson who is a solid corner when playing in zone coverage which fits the Cowboys defensive scheme as they usually like to run a cover-3 zone in the secondary. Johnson is a little underweight and may have to bulk up for the NFL but it didn’t stop him from having 11  broken up passes and 2 interceptions for TCU last year. He displayed his good instinct and a decent set of ball skills in a matchup vs Washington having his best game of the season where he came up big with a few pass deflections.

Wide Receiver

The Cowboys had another loss as wide receiver Randall Cobb left in free agency to go sign with the Houston Texans where he would have a bigger role on the team. Cobb was a solid veteran for the team and the Cowboys may have wanted to move on from him after he was targeted 79 times and had 55 receptions, but he did put up 828 receiving yards his most since 2015 and had 3 receiving touchdowns doing that while being the #3 receiver.

With Cobb gone the Cowboys need a player to line up at slot receiver to be the new #3 receiver as they currently have Cedrick Wilson as their #3 receiver, Wilson had 5 receptions on 8 targets for 46 yards in 6 games for Dallas last year.

The Cowboys could look to draft a receiver who can potentially become their #3 receiver and fill in that slot position and a player who can do just that is Michael Pittman Jr who is coming off his best season at USC. Pittman had an impressive 1,275 receiving yards with 101 receptions after missing most of the 2018 season due to injuries Pittman showed his potential in 2019. Despite his impressive stat sheet and decent 40-yard dash time, his draft stock has drastically dropped due to many teams’ concern with his lack of speed. Pittman would have to take a step back in receptions as he might not be getting anywhere close to the 101 receptions he had at USC but his skill level can add to the solid receiving core that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

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