The NFL draft is less than one month away and for the Dallas Cowboys, it serves as the primary building block for the team. We focus on the draft in this chat…
Every team has their own rules and guidelines when building their draft board for the NFL Draft. Some teams see running backs as replaceable parts. So they may prefer to pick them in the mid-to-late stages of the draft.
Some teams, like the Cowboys, devalue nose tackles. As a non-playmaking position, the 0 or 1 technique defensive tackle can usually be filled by just about anyone. Most teams devalue SAM linebackers since they have been reduced to a part time player in today’s pass-happy NFL.
Since capable bodies can be found on the scrap heap, teams avoid using a top-100 pick on them in the draft. To some teams these may be rules to live by and to others they are just guidelines to generally follow. Everyone has them and you and I are probably no different.
If you can’t rush the passer or defend the pass, you’re a liability.
Are the Cowboys wrong to rule out certain positions in the draft?
Rod Marinelli likes to avoid pure 1-technique defensive tackles and I tend to agree with him on this.
You can only fill so many positions with Day 1 or Day 2 talent, it would be a shame to waste a top-100 pick on a position like the 1-tech.
But this season may be the exception. I was on the Vita Vea bandwagon early and while the momentum of that slowed around Cowboys Nation, I’m still on board. I think Vea is the single best way to immediately fix the Cowboys defensive line in 2018.
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Are there any other positions to generally avoid early in the draft?
With the way the league has been trending the past decade, I’d avoid players poorly suited to stop the pass. If you can’t rush the passer or defend the pass, you’re a liability. Most teams run predominantly out of the 11 personnel group (meaning three receivers) so most defenses adapt and play out of a nickel defense. That’s why SAM linebackers are losing value and nickel cornerbacks are gaining value.
But in-the-box hard-hitting safeties should also join that group. If they are a “project” in coverage, they should be avoided early in the rounds.
Derwin James, like Vita Vea, may be the exception to that since both are considered other worldly in athletic terms.
But generally speaking, you can find a decent strong safety just about anywhere in the draft. One of the first things I do in draft preparation is identifying who is a coverage safety and who’s a run-stopping safety. And I avoid anyone who can’t cover well through roughly the first five rounds.
Joining those one-dimensional safeties on my avoid list are two-down linebackers. If the prospect has to come off the field on 3rd down, leave him for Day 3. Coverage is so important these days you have to be able to drop in coverage at any time or you will get exposed.
A top-100 pick on a player who can’t defend the pass is probably a poor investment. But again, these should be seen as guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.