The Dallas Cowboys can’t focus on cornerback in the NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys have a tremendous need at cornerback this offseason but it would be foolish for them to focus on that or any other position early in the NFL Draft

It’s clear the Dallas Cowboys are honing in on the cornerback position heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. After letting go of Byron Jones, for reasons that can’t be logically explained, the Dallas Cowboys have done essentially nothing in free agency to fill their massive void at CB1 (also something that can’t be logically explained).

As such, drafting a cornerback early in the 2020 NFL draft feels like a forgone conclusion. With no legitimate options left in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys have basically painted themselves into a corner. Look at all the mock drafts, it’s cornerback or bust heading into the first two rounds of the 2020 draft, right?

Have we learned nothing from our mistakes?

The inescapable drive to win-now has been consuming the Dallas Cowboys front office for too long. This short-sighted approach has led to far too many questionable decisions and has come at the exorbitant cost of the franchise’s long-term health.

What is Best Player Available According to Need?

For years scouts have touted the merits of drafting “best player available (BPA)” rather than drafting “according to need”. In recent years, we’ve found compromise in the idea that responsible drafts are Best Player Available according to need. But rather than appreciate some vague discipline of BPA, we’ve bastardized the idea completely and simply re-branded need-based drafting into something that sounds more digestible.

It’s one thing to avoid drafting a quarterback high when you have a franchise QB already locked up. But it’s quite another to target a specific position or two. The whole “according to need” part is supposed to eliminate a position or two, not focus in on a position or two. Otherwise it’s just need-based drafting.

Short-sighted Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have been short-sighted in two major ways:

  1. Deviating from BPA because they have a specific need
  2. Deviating from BPA because a position group happens to be shallow

The Cowboys have some great examples of each (many of which happen in the same draft). Last season, Dallas drafted Trysten Hill even though there were multiple players higher on their draft board. Why?

Everyone’s so focused on drafting for need they’re ignoring there’s more than just this year to think about. Wouldn’t everyone love to have the best players who were available from the ’17 and ’19 Drafts?

Because the 2019 NFL Draft was shallow at 3-technique (under tackle), and with DT such a big need for that coming season, Dallas felt it was now or never to get one. They were so focused on the 2019 season they didn’t think about picking the best player for them in the long-term. “Need” is why we have Trysten Hill today. And two years before that, Dallas had needs at both defensive end and at cornerback. They let both of those needs cloud their decision-making that year…

Remember back: Dallas had just let their two starters go (Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne) and needed starting caliber cornerbacks in a pretty bad way (Byron was as safety up until that season). They probably would have forced a CB pick in the first round that season if they hadn’t have felt so nervous about the DE spot. That particular draft was fairly shallow in edge talent, so Dallas felt compelled to draft a defensive end before his actual appraisal value dictated they should have. This got them Taco Charlton.

Of course they followed it up with two cornerbacks: Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, further ignoring the BPA philosphy.  At no point did they deviate from their short-sighted goals. They forced Taco because they needed an DE immediately. They forced Chido and Jourdan because they didn’t know what they had with Byron Jones and Anthony Brown.

They were so focused on competing in 2017, they passed over talent that could have made them better in 2018 and beyond. The same story as last year. And it looks like it’s about to be the same story this year.

Don’t you wish Dallas drafted the best players available the last few years? Don’t you think they’d be in better shape today if they had?

Everyone is so focused on drafting for Dallas’ immediate needs, they’re ignoring the fact there’s more than just this year to think about. Wouldn’t everyone love to have the best players who were available from the 2017 and 2019 Drafts? Dallas would be in a lot better shape today, that’s for sure.

If the Dallas Cowboys are all-in on this season, then they’ve undeniably painted themselves into a corner at cornerback. But with so many significant needs to fill and so many questions across their roster, why would they be all-in? Not to sound overly pessimistic but this team took major hits to the roster this offseason. I don’t care how much better the coaching staff may be, they are going to need a lot of things to fall their way to make 2020 a championship team.

Something I proposed a couple weeks ago – what if WR Jerry Jeudy falls to Dallas at 17? Should they pass on someone they may see as a future All-Pro in order to grab a cornerback who may never even be a CB1? What about Round 2? If Dallas sees Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, or Justin Madubuike as future Pro Bowlers, should they skip them over so they can pick up a pedestrian starting cornerback or safety?

Need sometimes helps in that first year but best player available always helps in the subsequent years.

Mock Draft Challenge: Pretend you’re drafting for the team to win in 2021 rather than 2020. See how much different it looks when you’re not forcing picks to help the team this year?

Next: Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft: Trading Way Back (v4.0)

It’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to start thinking about the long-term. Best player available according to need means they can eliminate one or two spots, not focus on one or two spots. Don’t you wish Dallas drafted the best players available the last few years? Don’t you think they’d be in better shape today if they had?

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