Dallas Cowboys: How the 2021 Draft already saved Dallas’ season

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

I’m not one for hyperbole or overdramatization but the Dallas Cowboys 2021 draft class may have very well saved their season. After finishing at or near the bottom of the NFL in most major defensive categories in 2020, the Cowboys dedicated their most recent draft to fixing the defense.

Will McClay and company targeted defense early and often, using 8 of their 11 picks on the defense. Dallas didn’t go offense until the last day in the draft, using all of their premium picks to upgrade their talent-starved defense. And it may have saved their season…

The Dallas Cowboys rookie class has been instrumental in their early season success.

For being a contending team, the Dallas Cowboys have given their rookies an abnormal amount of responsibilities. When most postseason-hopeful teams try to draft and slowly develop their rookies, Dallas unabashedly threw their rookies right into the deep end.

Rookies Micah Parsons and Osa Odighizuwa have both been key starters on defense from Day One this season. They are team leaders in pressures and in snap counts (for their respective position groups). On a defense decimated by injury/unavailability, they have been cornerstones and high caliber performers. Both rookies lead their draft class in pressures, despite the former being just a third round pick.


But it doesn’t end there. Chauncey Golston, who missed nearly all of camp and two regular season games, has been a huge part of the rotation as well. His 30 pass-rush snaps led the unit on Sunday and his two pressures and half-a-sack did not go unnoticed. Like Osa, Golston was a third round pick. It’s abnormal for a third rounder to receive this heavy of a workload, let alone make this big of an impact.  But here we are – with two third round “steals” in the making.

Sixth round pick (192 overall), Quinton Bohanna, has played an abnormally big role as well. He’s averaged roughly 30% of the snaps on defense this season which is impressive given his fairly one-dimensional skill-set and role. He’s been one of Dallas’ best pluggers at DT this year, rookie or otherwise.

These four players alone have single-handedly saved the Dallas Cowboys defense this season and should continue to play enormous roles going forward. The best part is – it probably won’t end with them.

The Dallas Cowboys No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, CB Kelvin Joseph, has yet to play this season. A preseason injury put him on IR but he’s expected to return within the next couple weeks. As we know, the starting cornerback role opposite Trevon Diggs is wide open, so it’s safe to say the rookie Joseph will likely be given ample opportunity to lay claim.

Jabril Cox is having a hard time seeing the field but that is likely a product of a crowded position group more than it is an indictment on him as a player. There’s an excellent chance Cox is a starting linebacker as early as next September. And a good one at that.

Israel Mukumamu and Nahshon Wright also have undetermined futures ahead. Like linebacker, the safety position is log-jammed with veteran players. Izzy probably won’t get much of an opportunity this year based primarily on that.

By my count Wright has only seen five defensive snaps this year and that’s a good thing. He’s raw and more of a niche player right now. He’s the type of developmental guy you expect from Pick 99 (although I still contend that pick was a reach).

The point is, Cox, Mukumamu, and Wright are what you expect from picks made in the 99-227 range. The production Dallas is getting from Parsons, Osa, Golston, and Bohanna is not. These players are far exceeding expectations and have taken on the kind of roles and responsibilities rookies rarely see.

Must Read. The Cowboys are missing just one key ingredient. light

It’s ok to be impressed. Even for a great drafting football team like Dallas, this is not normal

  • Published on 10/04/2021 at 16:09 PM
  • Last updated at 10/04/2021 at 16:09 PM