After all that work and preparation, the draft is over, just like that. What’s left for the Dallas Cowboys is nine brand new players and a veteran guy who brings some badly needed speed. So, how did the Cowboys do after a big three days?
First things first, do not read into draft grades, they are completely useless. No one has played a game yet and we need to see guys in action before rushing to any type of judgment. Ignore putting any stock in those grades.
Instead, look at what Dallas did in terms of executing their strategy. Heading into the draft, the team had three big holes on their roster: guard, linebacker and wide receiver. We can certainly argue they needed defensive line and safety help, but the other three were glaring problems that begged for solutions.
The Cowboys checked off each one of their boxes in each of the first three rounds. Leighton Vander Esch may not have been my first choice in round one, but his upside was too good for the team to pass up. His athleticism was exactly what Dallas was looking for and now the team has more speed on the field to match what creative offenses are bringing these days. LVE needs work, but if his best football is still ahead of him, the Cowboys will have hit on a stud. Vander Esch was the apple of the teams’ eye and they got their man.
Round two brought some tense moments; the Cowboys almost took a wide receiver they really liked but passed on him in order to shore up the gaping hole at left guard with Connor Williams. The former Texas standout was the last really good interior offensive lineman left (even though he played tackle in college, he’ll play guard in Dallas) and if the Cowboys didn’t pull the trigger on Williams, it could have been a major issue. By drafting Williams, a steal at 50, the Cowboys made two very smart picks in the first two rounds.
The gamble to let the wide receiver go in round two paid off, Dallas got their man in Michael Gallup in the round three. Gallup was the guy they almost took a round prior and were thrilled he was still available at pick 81. Gallup is a little underrated in this receiver class but does everything well and it may not take long before he’s the number one receiver.
After the first three rounds of the draft, the Cowboys addressed each of their major areas of concern with high-quality players. Each rookie should be big-time contributors this season, exactly what you want coming out of a draft.
Dallas spent the rest of the draft adding solid prospects with plenty of upside. Dorance Armstrong has the physical traits the team likes, Dalton Schultz has a ton of potential if Jason Witten retires and the Cowboys doubled up at need positions, linebacker and wide receiver. Sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson, in particular, was a steal late and someone to keep an eye on.
The team also made a smart decision in drafting a quarterback, perhaps they have learned the ‘draft one a year’ philosophy. You never know what that quarterback may turn out to be, and in a QB driven league, it’s always a smart move.
Finally, the Cowboys brought in a physical running back in Bo Scarbrough in round seven. The bruising runner can help hammer away games with the Cowboys, similarly to how he did in college at Alabama.
A big plus for many of their draftees is their age. Of course, most players in the draft are young, but the Cowboys got very young guys who are still blossoming. Vander Esch turned 21 two months ago, Williams doesn’t turn 21 until next month, Gallup just turned 22, Armstrong is 20 (21 for the season), and Schultz will be 22 for the entire 2018 season. That’s a young group of players and if they get second contracts, they would be in the prime of their careers during those deals.
The team didn’t get any help at defensive tackle and they surely needed a big bodied space eater, but you can’t fix everything in one draft. We probably would have liked to see them add a safety, however, they may still have plans to add one before the season begins.
The Dallas Cowboys did very well in this draft, they got players they targeted and executed their plan well. They appear to have hit home runs with their money picks and they will make the Cowboys better in 2018. And that is the whole point.
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