Dallas Cowboys: Why this draft class won’t help or hurt 2021 season

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not breaking news to say the Dallas Cowboys had a somewhat controversial draft haul this year. The Cowboys 2021 draft class was loaded with perceived reaches and high-risk picks throughout, making it one of the more of the most boom-or-bust drafts Dallas has had in years.

Some love the newest draft class and think it’s just enough to push the Cowboys over the top. Others hate the class and think it was a missed opportunity to take the next step. Well, I got news for you – both sides are wrong.

The 2021 draft class will likely do very little to either help or hurt the Dallas Cowboys this season.

That may sound like good news to some and bad news to others, but however you happen to take it, it’s the reality of the situation. Why you ask?

Timo Riske at Pro Football Focus recently ran the numbers and found that rookie draft classes rarely produce much in Year 1. Good or bad. The biggest gains aren’t usually made until years two and three.

If you’re hoping for young players to raise the Cowboys to the next level you should be looking at the 2019 and 2020 class.

This isn’t entirely surprising when you consider the massive leap rookies are making from college to the pros. Even first round picks from the Power-5 have a tough time making an instant impact in the NFL. Rookies are replacement level players, at best.

Nearly all prospects need to get stronger when entering the pros. It usually takes a full year in the strength and conditioning program to do that. Even longer if they’re a lineman. The intricacies of the game take a giant leap as well. Assignments, schemes, reads, etc… all get exponentially more complicated. It takes film study, coaching, and practice to go from liability to asset.

Rookies are replacement level players, at best.

Sure, certain positions can survive more on instinct and natural skills/abilities than others, but generally speaking, rookies struggle to stand out in a positive manner their first year in the NFL.

That’s why Dallas Cowboys fans shouldn’t adjust their expectations much based on the most recent draft class. Yes, guys like Micah Parsons and Kelvin Joseph will be expected to log significant snaps, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be big-impact players right away. That comes one or two years down the line.

The draft class Dallas Cowboys fans should be excited about is the 2020 haul and the 2019 class. Those are the years that are primed for a breakout.

That should be seen as both good news and bad news since 2019 was a colossal stinker. The headliner of that class, Trysten Hill, only has 333 snaps to his name. He’s not just competing for the rotation this summer, he’s competing for a roster spot.

Connor McGovern, Dallas’ second pick of 2019, isn’t on much better ground. He has 606 snaps in his two years as a back-up lineman and he’s expected to resume that role of back-up again here in 2021.

After those two, the Dallas Cowboys selected RB Tony Pollard, CB Michael Jackson, DL Joe Jackson, SAF Donovan Wilson, RB Mike Weber, and DE Jalen Jelks. Most of those kids aren’t even on the roster anymore.

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About the only player from the Cowboys 2019 class we’re banking on to make a big impact is Donovan Wilson at safety. Because, no matter how much we like Pollard, he’s stuck at RB2 in this offense, and as such, his impact is limited. Sadly, the 2021 Dallas Cowboys are about to face the consequences of their poor 2019 draft.

Luckily for them, they seemed to hit the lottery in 2020. CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Tyler Biadasz have only scratched the surface on their potential. I think we’re all expecting huge things from them in 2021.  Neville Gallimore also stands to see gains this year. All in all, this appears to be a highly productive class that should make up for the debacle of ’19.

But for as optimistic (or pessimistic) as we are about this years draft class, chances are we won’t feel their impact much in 2021. Based on the numbers that won’t happen until 2022 or 2023.

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Next. The Cowboys 2021 NFL Draft Grades. dark

Based on historical data, the 2021 season will only minorly be impacted by the Dallas Cowboys rookie draft class. If you’re hoping for young players to raise the Cowboys to the next level you should be looking at the 2019 and 2020 class.