3 Potential Busts the Cowboys Must Avoid With No. 24

These 3 prospects shouldn't be on the radar for the Dallas Cowboys in Round 1
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Laiatu Latu / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Payton Wilson, LB, North Carolina State

Back in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys took linebacker Leighton Vander Esch out of Boise State in the first round. Initially, this move was met with skepticism from the fan base since LVE had concerns due to a lingering neck injury. Dallas felt good about his long-term health after he cleared medicals and he was excellent in his rookie campaign.

Then in year two, the injuries started to pop back up. He missed seven games in 2019 and six more in 2020. Eventually, the Cowboys elected not to pick up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract but once he proved he could stay healthy in 2022 (while playing on a one-year deal), he was re-signed to a multi-year deal.

Vander Esch lasted just five games, however, in 2023 before yet another neck injury. Now, there are reports his playing career could be over. While his health is far more important than any football game, the fact remains that his absence leaves a huge hole at linebacker. The Cowboys need to fill that and should look to the draft but they shouldn't do so in Round 1. Especially not if the target is Payton Wilson.

The North Carolina State product is an impressive prospect and teams with a need such as Dallas has would be tempted to bring him in. He's an excellent run defender and can play in coverage as well. Throw in his 6-foot-4, 243-pound frame and he appears to be the whole package.

Having said all of that, he comes into the NFL with a long injury list of his own. Wilson tore his ACL in 2020 and had a significant left shoulder injury in 2021. That's not the same severity as what Vander Esch was dealing with but the Cowboys cannot go after another player with injury concerns to replace someone who continually missed time with injuries. If they did try this, we can all probably guess how that will end.