With free agency crawling to a halt, the focus for the Dallas Cowboys has shifted to the 2022 NFL draft. In recent years they’ve looked at the draft as their main way to build their roster and fortify any positions of weakness from any exodus in free agency.
That hasn’t changed this offseason, the franchise has done very little in the last month to replace what’s been lost. The Cowboys have re-signed their own players, but haven’t added much talent outside of the organization and it’s left the team with some holes on their roster.
The plan heading into the draft has been to fill any positions of need throughout these next few crucial days. Stephen Jones might not think they have any “musts” left that would force the team’s hand, but the Cowboys surely need to come out of the draft with some quality talent in at least five places.
(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
The Cowboys need to be honest with themselves, what once was one of the best units in the game has fallen on hard times.
Left tackle Tyron Smith is still among the best in the league at his position and while right guard Zach Martin remains an All-Pro, there isn’t much elite play besides those two. Unfortunately, Smith continues to miss games regularly, so help is needed.
It’s group that underperformed last year and then lost left guard Connor Williams in free agency and released right tackle La’el Collins. The hope has to be that Terence Steele continues to improve at RT and that Tyler Biadasz does the same at center. Even if both happen, Dallas still has a need at LG, and Steele can be upgraded at RT.
The Cowboys could also use a swing tackle, at the very least. Perhaps the team has faith in last year’s fourth-round pick Josh Ball, but he’s yet to play in an NFL game. Help is needed at each position on the Cowboys’ offensive line.
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Two big moves were made at the WR position this offseason thus far; the Cowboys decided Amari Cooper wasn’t worth the cost and traded him for some late round draft capital, and the team re-signed Michael Gallup to a long-term deal. Those moves left Dallas short on quality at the position.
To combat losing Cooper, the Cowboys signed former Pittsburgh Steeler WR James Washington, but he’s more of a depth signing and not a top-tier talent. The team also lost a clutch receiver in gadget-man Cedrick Wilson as well as lost Malik Turner, who seemed to have carved out a nice role on special teams. Re-signing WR Noah Brown is a plus and the team has to hope second-year WR Simi Fehoko can make a big jump after a bit of a learning curve in his rookie season.
As it stands right now, the Cowboys need another talented WR. CeeDee Lamb should be ready to takeover as the No.1 WR, but Gallup’s late season injury likely won’t have him ready for the start of the year. Even when Gallup comes back healthy the offense needs another weapon at receiver. Dallas should seriously be looking to add a WR with one of their premium picks in the draft.
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The botched negotiations with former defensive end Randy Gregory left a hole opposite DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Veteran edge rusher Dante Fowler was signed and the team brought Dorance Armstrong back on a two-year deal, but neither are the long-term solution. Dallas needs one of those war-daddy pass rushers and they currently don’t have it.
Last year’s third-round pick Chauncey Golston flashed some potential, and he might be part of the solution, but he doesn’t look like the solution. This draft is an ideal place to find one; it’s rich in edge rushing prospects, including some who can be found outside the top 10.
The Cowboys need to address their defensive end position, preferably one with an elite pass rusher potential. It’s one of the biggest needs on Dallas’ defense.
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Linebacker could be one of the biggest holes on the Cowboys’ roster. There’s a big three at LB on defense, and then not much else. All-world LB Micah Parsons is joined by veteran LB Leighton Vander Esch and last year’s fourth-round pick Jabril Cox, who missed the last half of the season with a torn ACL.
Behind that, there isn’t much talent and yet the Cowboys don’t see a glaring need?
Even with the Cowboys using safety Jayron Kearse as a hybrid LB at times, the positions needs bodies. Also considering Parsons is sometimes used as a DE, things can get even thinner.
The first round might be a bit rich if the top two LB options are gone, but the Cowboys desperately need to find a quality LB somewhere in this draft.
Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jeremy Ruckert (88)
This is another position where the Cowboys are starved for talent. Starting TE Dalton Schultz has worked himself into one of quarterback Dak Prescott’s favorite targets, and is a solid player. Behind Schultz, however, sits just 41 career receptions between Sean McKeon and Jeremy Sprinkle. If something should happen to Schultz, the Cowboys would be in trouble.
Schultz is also only currently signed through the 2022 season on the franchise tag, that could change with a long-term deal before July 15, but Dallas needs another quality tight end on the roster. For now, and for future years, the Cowboys need to select a TE in this draft.
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