Dallas Cowboys Draft: Home Run, Base Hit or Strike Out?

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Micah Persons (Penn State) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the number 12 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Micah Persons (Penn State) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the number 12 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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For football fans across the country, this is festive-like time of the year. The NFL and Dallas Cowboys rumor mill alike are buzzing like beehives. NFL Insiders are posturing with their cell phones anxiously trying to be the first to the major draft trade stories. Mock drafts have fans either brimming with hope in their team or in an uproar at the thought of drafting some person they’ve never heard of.

For the draft process, this at times also marks the beginning of the end for some general manager, personnel guy or scout who stood on the table for a player who didn’t make it past their rookie contract. Not every team’s brass is built quite like the Dallas Cowboys. Their general manager’s contract is lifetime.  That bodes well for the Will McClay and Stephen Jones of the world.

Thee first round options for the Dallas Cowboys…

For clarity, let’s add some context to this metaphor I’m using throughout the article. The homerun pick is the wish list pick – I’m ecstatic if that pick happens. The base hit pick is what I believe will most likely happen – Overall, I’d be content. The strikeout pick is what I wouldn’t want to see happen in the first round – that’s a tough start to the draft.

Joey Porter, Jr.,

Defensive Back,

Penn State

Lamar Jackson, DK Metcalf and our very own, Trevon Diggs. What do these three players have in common? All three are perennially top players at their positions who took a tumble in their respective drafts either later in the first, second or third rounds and became value picks for their teams.

It is very possible that two or three players in this upcoming draft go through the same slide no different than what those players went through. With the Dallas Cowboys sitting there waiting at 26, a big slide would have to occur, but it wouldn’t be the first time and they wouldn’t be the first team this would have happened to.

It’s baseball season so it seemed appropriate to use baseball terminology in this article. The ‘homerun’ is that connection that doesn’t happen on every swing but when it does fans hop out of their seats to cheer. Joey Porter, Jr. from Penn State University comes to mind when thinking about a homerun pick. For the record, my hope is that players get drafted as high as possible to secure as much financial stability as they can in their rookie contracts. Unfortunately, not every rookie will get that story.

Let’s start here – what has to happen for Joey Porter, Jr. to land at the 26th pick in the draft? There are three factors that typically occur to adjust positioning in drafts:

  • Quarterbacks getting drafted high will push down talented players. Five quarterbacks may go in the first round. So, Hendon Hooker, you are on the clock.
  • Teams will overvalue offensive linemen and push them up the board because of need, i.e., Steve Avila, O’Cyrus Torrence and Joe Tippmann.
  • There are three or four other defensive backs, while not likely, may be picked before him – Christian Gonzales, Devon Witherspoon, Brian Branch or Deonte Banks. It’s all dependent on what teams are looking for.

Not an apples-to-apples scenario, but the 2021 draft panned out in similar fashion. Four quarterbacks (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields) were picked which helped push Micah Parsons down the board. Dallas was able to snag the home run hit that draft.

What’s the appeal with Joey Porter, Jr.? Defensive coordinators search high and low for prospects that have that ‘it’ factor. His dad years ago played with that edge and junior has a similar play style. He embraces the physical side of the game that many cornerbacks shy away from. His ability to tackle in the open field makes him a dream pickup for the Dallas Cowboys.

He is a press corner that wants to be up in the receiver’s grille. He didn’t get his hands on the ball as much as you would like but he’ll get more chances at the professional level. He is known for playing nose to nose with receivers on the collegiate level and doesn’t give up many touchdowns. He’s a game changer and a plug-in-play prospect that solidifies Dallas’ backend.

Porter is type of defensive back made in a Dan Quinn laboratory. He is 6’2″ 193lbs with 34″ arms. Those are ridiculous measurables. His athletic testing hit the mark in just about every area (40-yard dash, 10-yard split, vertical and broad jump).

Why would the Dallas Cowboys consider this a homerun? Have you seen that rotating door of cornerbacks opposite of Trevon Diggs. There were a laundry list of guys auditioning for that role especially after Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis injuries (Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Xavier Rhodes and Treyvon Mullen).

Fortunately, Stephon Gilmore is in place now and what a great acquisition that was. But he’s still a 1-year player for Dallas and the team would be revisiting this problem yet again next offseason.

Having Porter as the Ying to Diggs’ yang for years to come is just too enticing to pass up. His athleticism is transferable to the field. What do I mean by that? He plays like he is a good athlete rather than a poor football player just testing well in a controlled setting.

Porter would allow Daron Bland to continue to build his resume up as that slot corner. Those bigger, stronger receivers like A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuels would still be a test for the young defensive back, but it would limit the opposing offense from targeting the other cornerback. He’s the final piece to a defense that is at the brink of something special. It’s farfetched idea that he would drop this far but if he does home run pick for the Dallas Cowboys.