The Dallas Cowboys had a bit of a perplexing draft strategy overall in 2019. While there were a couple of needs that were addressed in the draft, the question remains, what was the overall goal? Did the Cowboys achieve their goal? It seemed that at almost every turn a player likely seemed to be crossed off from the Cowboys draft board. The Cowboys came in needing depth in the secondary, at the running back position, and on the offensive line. Dallas certainly addressed those needs, but some of the moves made appeared to be filled with risk.
Jerry Jones was quoted as saying that he understood the Cowboys were not in a position to take a risk in the second round. That still didn’t stop the Cowboys from taking a first-round talent on the defensive line in Trystan Hill. Still, there were major question marks coming in surrounding Hill’s love of the game. Many had him graded as a third-round pick as a result of that belief. So why did the Cowboys front office pull the trigger in the second round? This sets up the five burning questions regarding the 2019 draft.
Was there a method to the “madness”?
Dallas could have taken a much safer pick at cornerback or safety like Taylor Rapp out of Washington with the 58th pick. Hill certainly was the superior talent. Still taking a very talented defensive tackle with legitimate concerns about his passion for football seems to be a bit of a risk. Especially with what was called the deepest defensive line draft in years. Maybe the pick of Hill and his developments will give us a clue as to the status of newly acquired pass rusher Robert Quinn going forward. The overall shape of the draft suggests, yes this may be madness, but there is method to it.
Why did Dallas not draft a Wide Receiver when it was clearly a position of need?
The past five or six years, the Cowboys have done an excellent job of building through the draft and addressing positions of need. The front office has done an excellent job of scouting talent and taking calculated risks. Nobody will likely argue that Amari Cooper proved to be worthy of trading their first round pick. Still, why not provide some depth and younger development? Do the Cowboys believe in a core of Cooper, Michael Gallup, and recently signed slot specialist Randall Cobb?
Maybe Dallas just got unlucky with the wide receivers taken in front of them. It’s no secret the Cowboys loved wide receiver AJ Brown, who was taken just a few picks ahead by the Tennessee Titans. There were also reports of interest in Deebo Samuel and Riley Ridley. Ridley would have been a major reach in the second round. Maybe Dallas would have taken Ridley in the fourth, had the Bears not sniped him two picks ahead of them.
Overall, what grade do the Dallas Cowboys deserve for their draft?
Dallas has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt after their excellent draft record the previous few years. The additions of running backs like Tony Pollard and Mike Weber to pair with workhorse back Ezekiel Elliott certainly make sense. Especially with the Cowboys recent commitment to pick up Elliot’s fifth year option.
Dallas will be put in a tough position with their secondary in 2020. Seven of their secondary players will be unrestricted free agents (UFA) and it isn’t likely Dallas will be keeping all of them. Drafting players like Michael Jackson and Donovan Wilson will certainly aid the depth positions.
Similarly, Dallas will have four defensive linemen that are UFA’s in 2020 and Dallas will not likely re-sign all of them either. Additions like Joe Jackson along with Hill and Jalen Jelks will keep plenty of young talent along the line for the next few years.
Overall, the draft deserves a high B, with the biggest knock being taking what likely is an unnecessary risk in the second round.
Did the Cowboys draft for 2020?
After looking at the breakdown above, the obvious answer would have to be yes. Dallas drafted this year with 2020 in mind. 2020’s draft will have a plethora of play making talent. The 2020 class doesn’t have nearly the tight end talent that this class has. Maybe this is a vote of confidence in the recent emergence of Blake Jarwin. That’s likely why Jason Witten was re-signed to a one year deal; to serve as a mentor to the raw, talented Jarwin.
If this theory proves to be correct, then Dallas will likely be aggressive in targeting positions of need. Look for them to also aggressively target game changing play making talent, particularly in the wide receiver and secondary.
Did Dallas draft to win now and/or in 2020?
Coming off of a successful NFC East winning season that also featured an elusive playoff win, Dallas is in a prime position to succeed. Dallas didn’t make any rebuilding moves, and yet still improved the quality of talent and depth on the roster. Looking at how the roster is shaping up, the answer is likely both.
The extensions of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper as well as key defensive players still loom. Regardless, Dallas is doing a great job of positioning themselves to compete for years to come.