The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2017 NFL Draft with a number of key positions filled in already. However, that doesn’t mean that there are holes that need to be filled with players selected over their seven picks. That is why I’ve set an alarm system that shows where Dallas needs to focus their attention.
It’s a simple format. One equals little to no need to fix. However five equals the house is on fire and Jerry Jones and staff need to fix the burning spot.
: QB, RB, K, P
These positions are of little to no need for the Cowboys at the draft. For starters, Dallas has their kicker Dan Bailey and punter Chris Jones under contract until 2021 and 2018. And, well, Dallas has that quarterback and running back positions pretty much locked up with the emergence of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
: WR, LT, RT, FB, G, C
This is an area that is fine, but couldn’t hurt with a depth pick later on in the draft. At wide receiver the Cowboys are locked in with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley. However, taking a WR late in the draft has proved to work in the past. New England Patriots Julian Edelman and, former New Orleans Saints Marques Colston were seventh round picks, and Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown was a sixth round pick.
With the offensive line, the Cowboys are loaded with talent. They have Tyron Smith as their anchor at left tackle..The same can be said with guard as Dallas has the role firmly in place with Zack Martin and La’el Collins. And, at center, the Cowboys have one of the best in the NFL, Travis Frederick.
However, it doesn’t hurt to fill in depth behind these roles, if there is value when their pick is up
And, full back, unless they’re going to sign Adrian Peterson, or run more I-formation while on offense, there’s no need to draft this position.
: TE, ILB, OLB
This is where it wouldn’t hurt Dallas to look at drafting the position in rounds 2-4. At tight end and Outside Linebacker they’re seeing their starters hit the back-half of their careers. Jason Witten did sign an four-year extension; however, he will be 35 when the 2017 season starts. It wouldn’t hurt the Cowboys to look for Witten’s replacement in the draft.
The same can be said about Outside Linebacker Sean Lee. He is entering into his seventh year with the team, and is coming off his best year statistically with 93 tackles in 15 games. However, with last years second-round pick Jaylon Smith’s injury history you aren’t sure what you’ll be able to get from the former Notre Dame standout.
Dallas should use the middle of the draft to look at Florida’s Alex Anzalone who can play both inside and outside linebacker. His draft preview shows that he can be an explosive pass rusher saying: “Anzalone was very impressive at times during the 2016 season, racking up 40 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and two passes broken up. He barely played in 2015 because of a shoulder injury that led to a medical redshirt. Anzalone was a backup and had injury issues during his first two years as well. Still, he can play inside linebacker and also is a dangerous pass-rusher off the edge or when blitzing up the middle.” (Walter Football)
: DT, LE, RE
This is going to be a high importance for the Cowboys in the draft. The team only had 36 sacks, which put them towards the middle of the pack in the league. Their in ability to rush the passer lead to Aaron Rodgers being able to pick apart the secondary in their NFC Divisional Round loss.
With someone like UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley projected to be drafted anywhere between the first and third round, it would be wise of Dallas to select this pass rushing specialist. McKinley ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and can get off of the edge with an elite level explosive speed.
: CB, FS, SS
This is where the Cowboys must spend their first-round pick. The secondary lost starters Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Barry Church to free agency. They need to fill in the holes for squad that gave up 25 touchdowns and picked only nine passes off in 2016.
Much like Rodgers wasn’t pressured during their playoff loss, he was able to throw for 355 yards and two touchdowns. With someone like USC’s Adoree Jackson, available to them in the first round, it could provide an instant fill for this gaping hole. Jackson has a: “feel in coverage has improved substantially from his freshman season. Shows greater pattern recognition and is able to maintain coverage around the field. Has necessary hip flip and foot quickness to recover from mistakes in press and lapses in coverage in space.” (NFL.com)
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