Dallas Cowboys Draft Forecast
After a disappointing four-win season riddled with injuries and poor performance, the Dallas Cowboys will be slotted for the 2016 NFL Draft’s fourth overall pick. This is a rare opportunity for the Cowboys to grab a highly-coveted prospect on Draft day, sitting with a top-five pick for the first time since 2003. Team owner and self-appointed GM Jerry Jones will not be satisfied with another underwhelming year as he looks to find a way back to the recently elusive Super Bowl for the first time in two decades.
In order to get there, the team has some work to do and some additions to make, but addressing some of the following positions come draft day can possibly be the start of a move in the right direction. Here is what the Cowboys need to target with their nine total picks late April in Chicago:
With an already dynamic offense anchored by a burly offensive line, it means the focus needs to turn towards the defense. One position on the Cowboys that has been constantly plagued by the injury bug is linebacker. Lead by Pro Bowler Sean Lee and former first-rounder Rolando McClain, the position has some decent talent, but it lacks depth. Outside of those two, who have missed a combined 22 games over the past two seasons, there are not a lot of bodies to step up when inevitably needed.
Cowboys should address this immediately and snag UCLA LB Myles Jack fourth overall. He is a guy who has uber-athletic abilities and can hold his own in coverage. Jack may the best defensive player in the draft and can help out the Cowboys immediately, but after the Bruin missed most of his junior season due to injury, it may wave some reasonable red flags the team may want to avoid.
After the circus that was Greg Hardy and the current incompetence that is Randy Gregory, the Cowboys have some work to do at the defensive end position. Once again the position may be the deepest in the draft and at the top of the list is Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, who couples a solid football pedigree with undeniable talent to make him one of the draft’s most sought-after prospects. The biggest knock on him is his character, but that has not stopped the Cowboy’s from bringing in some of football’s most controversial characters in the past.
The squad might be looking in the other direction, however, as Stephen Jones gets increasingly more involved in team decisions, moving towards level-headed players and financial conservation. When factoring in the depth of defensive ends that will still be available in the second round, look for the Cowboys to pass on the Buckeye and shoot for someone like Emmanuel Ogbah, Kevin Dodd or Shilique Calhoun later depending on where they fall.
Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy, boasting the league’s third-best passer rating in history at 97.1. But of course, the key word there is healthy. Romo will be 36-years-old by draft day and the team may be looking for the next guy to man the helm.
There does not seem to be a lot of franchise quarterbacks this year, but in the middle rounds taking a flyer on a guy like Christian Hackenberg or Dak Prescott may not be a bad idea. Then again, Romo went undrafted in 2003, so maybe there will be a diamond in the rough whose name will not even be called in Chicago.
The Dallas secondary has always been one of the most questionable components of the team. The Cowboys have tried to make improvements there with two first-round cornerback selections in the past four years and the signing of Brandon Carr to a giant deal in 2012. Unfortunately, not many of those pickups have paid off; Carr has not come close to showing he was worth the $50 million he was paid and Morris Claiborne had to sign a one-year deal in a last chance effort to prove why he deserves a spot on the team.
In the first round sits another high profile secondary prospect in Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey. He may not fall to the Cowboys at four, but would be a solid fit at either safety or cornerback opposite of Byron Jones. They will most likely have to settle for help in the mid-to-late rounds and look for guys to plug into the defense, but most likely will not find any guys who can immediately jump on the field as a starter.
Star Alabama running back Derrick Henry has his name thrown around as a potential second-round pick for the Boys in several mock drafts, but at this current moment it is not so certain that is the direction they want to go in. Inking Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar in the offseason does not leave a lot of room for opportunity there and several other teams have a great interest in picking the Heisman trophy winner.
Having said that, this guy is massive and has game-changing ability neither of those other two have, meaning the Cowboys may see him as the final piece to the puzzle.
Ryan Berti is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @RBirdman7