View from the Cheap Seats-Cowboys Draft
The annual NFL draft, otherwise known as the NFL's talent meat market is always a bittersweet day for football fans. On the plus side, every NFL team sees the hope of the future, not unlike college football signing day, where the team adds new talent to help take them to new heights. The bitter side, we have entered the 4 month desert without real football. 31 August seems so far away from today. This year's draft from Nashville set records for both viewership and attendance.
Anytime the future of the staff is uncertain, the draft takes on a different tone which impacts draft decisions. Jason Garrett is working on a very short leash and wants players to help him win NOW. Steven Jones/Will McClay have taken a longer view over the past 6 years. Cheap Seats opinion is that there should have been more focus on winning now and Dallas made a big mistake trading back not up. Additionally, if JG is gone, no idea what type of offense Dallas wants to run. Now if JG does get replaced, in the Cheap Seats perfect view, Kris Richards becomes the new HC and Kellen Moore still runs the offense. While we would love Sean Payton, he's not free till 2021 and don't want to give up a pair of #1s for him. But that issue still impacts the way Dallas has to view the draft.
The Dallas Cowboys started the weekend already having hit a home run with their 1st round pick. Not only is Armani Cooper better than any WR in this year's draft, he also was the catalyst for Dallas' playoff run in 2018. 2nd best trade in Dallas history after the famous Hershel Walker trade that produced 3 Super Bowls. In an odd irony, Oakland would use the 27th pick traded from Dallas to draft a Dallas Safety target in Johnathan Abram. Personally we're glad Armari helped add another division crown to Dallas' storied history.
Let's face it, Dallas is pretty loaded and clearly a team "in the hunt" for a playoff spot with expectations of returning to the promised land. The point, there are not lots of holes to plug new guys into. So while all drafts are about building for the future, this year should have been about adding some 2019 key pieces. With picks #1 and #2, Mission Accomplished. After that, mixed bag
Full disclosure, Dallas has been one of the very best teams in the NFL in drafting since Will McClay arrived and clearly knows LIGHT YEARS more than the Cheap Seats but we'll counter that we think, Dallas tried to get "too cute" this year by trading back to gain what we see as career backups at best instead of trading up to acquire talent that can contribute beyond special teams or back up roles in 2019 and 2020
Armani Cooper, Tyerstin Hill Conner McGovern and Tony Pollard
Trading back (should have traded up), Donovan Wilson &
Reports are Dallas was not high on CGJ or the Bama S Thompson but were high on Thornhill, Rapp and Nassir Adderly as potential picks at 58. All would be gone by 90. And it should be mentioned, Dallas has talked for years about focusing on Best Player Available at a position of need. Not the same as BPA. For example, this year, zero need at QB.
In summation, we think Dallas whiffed badly on available players at S and TE who could be key pieces in the future but we also think Dallas addressed some of the other needs such as DT, back up/change of pace RB, CB, WR and OL depth. We rate the draft a B, leaning to B+.
So let's break it down round by round 1st then we'll talk some UDFAs cuz we think there could be some players there.
Round 1-Amari Cooper. WR For a 2019 draft pick, he was the catalyst for a playoff run. This might go down as the 2nd best trade in Cowboy history after Hershal. Dallas picked up a Pro Bowl caliber WR in the prime of his career and a WR far better than any WR in the 2019 draft. Had they not made the trade, they likely are drafting about 15-20. The downside, they have to pay the man right away but he'll be worth it. Dallas will lock up a Top 10 NFL WR in his prime and have him for 6-7 years. Dallas has their #1 WR. Rank: A+
Round 2-Trysten Hill. Flat love this pick. Many think it was a reach and he'd have been there at 90 but not sure. Dallas viewed this as making the secondary stronger by bringing in a player who can be disruptive up front and Trysten is a very athletic 3 with a strong motor. Rod Marenelli loves him. Keep in mind, Dallas lost to the Rams because they gashed our Front 4. Historically the 2 positions Dallas undervalues is DT and S on defense. When you love a player at a position of need, you don't worry about drafting him a round too early. PS, not sure outside of Tyrone Crawford Dallas has a DT who isn't on a 1 year contract today. Rank: A
Round 3-Conner McGovern. No question the highest rated player left on their board so from the BPA stand point, a very good pick for 2020. They passed on 3 safeties they were interested in, Hill from MSU, Hooker from Iowa and Redwine from Miami. Since McGovern projects as a 2020 starter at OG (assuming Williams slides to RT and Collins is allowed to walk), while the move does not help 2019, a tough but the right call. Rank: A-. and the minus only because he's likely a 2020 guy not 2019.
Round 4-Dallas made 2 moves in the 4th, one that we are warming up to the choice, the other we believe a mistake. Tony Pollard RB Memphis. Dallas needed a backup to Zeke but they drafted a gadget player with outstanding speed/quickness. He is versatile enough to line up in the slot. Kellen Moore gets a pretty talented toy. This pick has the potential to be really special depending on how he is used. Not to mention one of the top return guys in college the past 3 years. Frankly he might take Tavon Austin's roster spot/role. Grade: B+
Round 4 Comp: This is where we really begin to disagree with Dallas' strategy. Dallas traded back to land more picks. We would have packaged this pick to trade up to the #7 pick in this round, Willis MSU, #14 Hooker Iowa or #17 Redwine Miami. 2 of those 3 rated as potential NFL starters by NFL.com All players with the talent to not only make the team but contribute on more than special teams Not one of the additional picks grades as a potential NFL starter. Grade: D
Round 5-(trade down pick) Michael Jackson CB Miami A project for Kris Richards. Has the size Richards likes but lacks athleticism. Odd for Dallas that places more weight on athletic guys. Rated a back up/special teams guy by NFL.com. don't see the value trading down for him. Grade: C-/D
Round 5-Joe Jackson DE Good value in the 5th. Jackson has NFL size but needs to polish technique. Very productive in college and known for being a strong effort player which masks his lack of elite athleticism. DE room is crowded but we see him making the team and being a rotational guy going forward. Grade: B-
Round 6-Donovan Wilson S Aggie. (trade down pick) A liability in coverage, not even on the radar on several draft sites. Not very athletic, which is odd as Dallas really likes athletic guys. Bit shocked Dallas did not pick a player like Jimmy Moreland from James Madison (he would go 5 picks later) who was very athletic and productive in college albeit at Division II levels. Another trade up option would have been going up to #8 in this round to take Jaquan Johnson S, Miami who had significantly better college production and far more athletic. Not sure DW is even a true "backup" at the NFL level, special teams guy. Grade: D/F.
Sorry, Dallas screwed up trading down and would have been better off trading up for a player who can contribute and make an impact this year and next. Would not be shocked to see 2 of the 3 trade down prospects fail to make the team.
Round 7-(trade down pick) Mike Weber RB, the Ohio State. Drafted to be a back up, projects to be a back up. Insurance if Zeke goes down. Clear need identified by Da Boys though RBs pretty easy to find in the NFL. Grade: C+
Round 7-Jalen Jelks DE Oregon-Dallas again lands a guy projected to go higher who was productive in college (2nd team All Pac 12) and played both outside DE and inside 3 Tech so offers some position flex. Outstanding speed off the edge. Lacks ideal size and more pass rusher than run stuffer, clearly needs to get stronger but has the tools to be molded. NFL.com ranks him as "chance to be NFL starter". If he pushes someone off the roster and simply plays a rotational role, home run in the 7th. Grade: B
Undrafted Free Agents:
Dallas is one of the better NFL teams at identifying UDFA talent. See Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Cole Beasley to name a few. Will focus on the guys we see having the best chance to make the team:
Mitch Hyatt, OT Clemson. 4 year starter. Frankly shocked he wasn't drafted. Consensus All American last year and 4 year starter. We expect him to make the roster
Chris Westy, S/CB Kentucky. 6'4" so he has great size (which Richards loves in his DBs) great speed (sub 4.4) works best in press coverage and his length is a nightmare. While he made All Freshman SEC, he spent the next years coming off the bench. Kris Richards might be the best thing that happened to him
Daniel Wise, DE/DT Kansas. Athletic and productive player (All BigXII). Crowded DT space but another "position flex" guy. Keep in mind, outside of Hill, everyone else on a 1 year deal
Jaylen Guyton, WR UNT, Kid can fly and has good size plus WR skills. Another who fell into the "should have waited a year". Crowded WR room but he has a shot to make the club.
Jon'vea Johnson, WR, Toledo, another kid with outstanding speed and athletisim and 3 years worth of production. Lacks great size.
Dallas picked up 4 LBs as UDFA. The least crowded position group on the team with a real chance for at least 1 of the 4 making the squad. Today's best guess would be either Andrew Dowell Mich St or Jason Phillips from Okie Lite has the best shot.
The most interesting signing might be Larry Allen Jr of Harvard, the son of Hall of Fame OG Larry Allen, potentially the best OL in NFL history.
Making no bones that Will McClay and company are far more well versed and talented at this than some fan posting from the Cheap Seats, we still believe a couple opportunities were missed which could have added more "win now" talent. Give us 1 more quality starter over 3 back ups anyday, still more to like than dislike about this year's draft.