Dallas Cowboys: Why Dan Quinn should get priority in the draft

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys need to improve their offense. Last season they saw their defense take a step forward in it’s development while the offense took a huge step back (I guess that’s what happens when you try to start a season without 3 of your top-4 WRs from a season before).

Dallas’ season predictably ended by getting out-gunned in the playoffs so it’s understandable improving the offense is Priority No. 1 this offseason. Yet, a case can be made it’s Dan Quinn and his defense who deserve first crack at the highest draft resources this year.

The Dallas Cowboys must keep in mind, Dan Quinn has needs on defense and he always seems to get the most from his guys

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is a polarizing group. From John Fassel, to Mike Solari, to Brian Schottenheimer, to Mike McCarthy; some think the world of them, while others think very little of them. They’ve all had their coaching ability recently called into question and 2023 appears to be a critical season for their Dallas Cowboys futures…every coach except Dan Quinn, of course.

Quinn walks on water in Dallas. He’s beloved by all and after rebuking head coaching opportunities two off-seasons in a row, he may transcend football in north Texas and be the most beloved current coach in any sport in the DFW area.

McCarthy’s first hand-picked defensive coach, Mike Nolan, proved to be a nightmare of epic proportions. Not only did he clash with players but he clashed with the modern advances of the game. Nolan sank the Cowboys defense to historically bad levels and was out of Dallas as quickly as he came in.

Quinn came in and fixed things. The former Legion of Boom coordinator and Super Bowl head coach knew how to change with the times. He altered the Cowboys defense to fit their personnel and delivered immediate results.

In 2021 he turned the Cowboys into a takeaway machine, leading the NFL in the all-important category and boosting the defense into top-10 status. In 2022, he did the unthinkable, repeating his takeaway success and improving the unit as a whole along the way.

He revitalized old players and developed young players and now looks to take the Cowboys defense into dominant levels in 2023.

So why exactly should he get the top resources if his unit is doing to well?

Because openings at some of the most important blue-chip positions are about to open up and if the Dallas Cowboys want to continue to be strong defensively they need to proactively address those positions.

The most premium positions on defense are cornerback and pass-rusher. Defending the pass is the most important task of a defense and the easiest way a defense can shift the balance of a game.

The Dallas Cowboys may look strong at both of these blue-chip positions in 2023, but in 2024 things look thin and history suggests teams do not want to lean on rookies to fill these all-important roles at once.

Stephon Gilmore is a free agent in 2024 (as is Trevon Diggs) and since Dallas will likely be setting the market with Diggs’ new deal, they will want to fill the spot opposite him with a player on a rookie deal. The top of the 2023 Draft is loaded with future CB1s and CB2s so if one falls to them in the first or second round, drafting one now could pay off enormously down the road.

As we learned last season, you can never have enough CBs and even bottom of the roster guys get snaps so this pick would be as useful today as will be tomorrow.

Pass-rusher is another position that can be loaded up a year early. Quinn rotates and develops pass-rushers often. Sam Williams is last season’s project player expected to make a jump in 2023. Pass-rushers take time and rarely enter the NFL as double-digit sackers.

Over the next two seasons both Dorance Armstrong and DeMarcus Lawrence are expected to leave. Dallas will need to replace their production with inexpensive players on rookie deals (Parsons will break the bank). Giving Quinn another weapon to develop with Williams will be critical to the Dallas Cowboys success. It will create big plays and prevent teams from doubling Micah Parsons every down.

Don’t force it!

The key is not to force it. If good pass rushers and/or cornerbacks are available in the first two rounds Dallas should pounce. Positional value and need insist upon it. But if the value is WR that long-term need likely trumps the defense.

The Dallas Cowboys also need help at guard, running back, and tight end, but those are positions that can easily get filled later in the draft. Day 3 players routinely fill starting TE and RB positions and guard is something that can get get filled outside of the first round quite easily.

Dan Quinn gets the most from his players and the needs on defense are at some of the most valued positions in the game