The Dallas Cowboys have completed their selections in the 2017 NFL draft, and only time will tell whether the team made the right selections or the angst shown by many fans in online message boards was valid. Each pick had the fan favorites, which are listed along with the actual pick.
Round 1, Pick 28 – Taco Charlton (DE)
As the pick neared, fans were clamoring for Takk McKinley, who was then swiped by Atlanta after they traded up to pick 26. Jerry Jones may have been too open about his desire for a War Daddy pass rusher, but the Falcons may have traded up anyway considering that there were several teams between picks 27 and 30 that had a need for a pass rusher.
Dallas ultimately selected Taco Charlton. Charlton has great size and length for a defensive end, but lacks the quick twitch get off that Rod Marinelli typically covets in his rush men. Charlton looks like a player that can threaten offensive tackles with power and length while having enough agility to keep them from stonewalling him by focusing on anchoring against a bull rush. He has the skills to succeed at setting the edge in the running game. He could also be an option to move inside to defensive tackle in nickel situations, where his long arms and decent lateral quickness could provide a mismatch against shorter-armed interior offensive linemen. Think of Joey Bosa without the outstanding quickness and hand usage. Cowboy’s safeties coach Greg Jackson coached at Michigan prior to last season and therefore has some familiarity with Charlton.
Rationale for the Pick – Watt could end up being very good, but is slight for a DE. McDowell has tremendous physical talent, but his effort and work ethic have been questioned. Ramczyk played great in his one season at Wisconson but has injury concerns after hip surgery along with questions about his commitment to football. As mentioned above, the depth in the draft at CB lowered the need to get a CB like King or Awuzie. Njoku could end up being great, but TE wasn’t a strong need for the team. Foster was one of the best players in the draft but apparently dropped due to injury concerns with his shoulder and possibly due to reported attitude issues.
Message Board/Twitter Fan Reaction (Unscientific) – Slightly Disappointed
Unqualified Personal Grade (B): Total agreement with targeting a DE in the first round due to the draft’s great depth at cornerback and the team’s need for an upper level talent at DE. Would have preferred that Derek Barnett (very unlikely), Charles Harris, or maybe Takk McKinley made it to 28, but Charlton was probably the best combination of player and need available. Draft experts ranked Charlton most often in the 20’s, so the perceived value matched the draft spot.
Round 2, Pick 60 – Chidobe Awuzie (CB)
Dallas’ decision to pass on a cornerback in the first round appears to have paid off. Awuzie was typically projected in the early 2nd round and draft experts at times mocked him in the late first round. Awuzie has the position flexibility to play on the outside, in the slot, or at safety.
Other Notable Players Available – Jordan Willis (DE), Josh Jones (S), Taylor Moton (OT), Dion Dawkins (OL), Fabian Moreau (CB)
Rationale for the Pick – Best player available at a position of need. Todd Archer wrote than he was the top ranked player on the team’s board at the time.
Message Board/Twitter Fan Reaction (Unscientific) – Ecstatic
Unqualified Personal Grade (A+): The best player available ended up being at what was by far the biggest position of need.
Round 3, Pick 92 – Jourdan Lewis (CB)
Dallas doubled up at cornerback to complete the two holes that existed at that position. Lewis was thought of as a second round value prior to being accused by his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend of domestic abuse. Lewis has denied the allegations and stated that his girlfriend grabbed his legs and wouldn’t let him leave and that all he did was move her away from him so that he could leave. With two of the first three picks being Michigan Wolverines and particularly with the questions surrounding Lewis, the team likely leaned heavily on Greg Jackson’s knowledge of the players. It appears that the team is softening on its prior focus on corners that are 5’11” or taller.
Other Notable Players Available – Cam Sutton (CB), Cordrea Tankersley (CB), Rasul Douglas (CB), Carl Lawson (DE), Josh Reynolds (WR)
Rationale for the Pick – The team needed two cornerbacks in the draft, the value was there, and Greg Davis had coached Lewis in the past. Todd Archer wrote than he was the top ranked player on the team’s board at the time.
Message Board/Twitter Fan Reaction (Unscientific) – Mostly very positive
Unqualified Personal Grade (A-): If you disregard the domestic violation accusation, Lewis may have been the best player available, and cornerback was still a position of need. Pro Football Focus loves this guy’s play and feels he is under-valued due to his height and that his skills playing the ball compensates for his lack of height.
Round 4, Pick 133 – Ryan Switzer (WR)
Of the first four picks, this was the closest to a surprise because of Switzer’s similarity to Cole Beasley. However, the team’s actions have made it clear that they are looking to replace Lucky Whitehead, which I was hoping for last off-season. Switzer is very small at 5’9″ and 181 pounds, but he is also very quick when changing directions and reports indicate that his commitment to football and being the absolute best he can be is outstanding. Jason Garrett probably loves this pick. His production as a receiver and punt returner at North Carolina were top notch. Jerry Jones said the team was arguing over whether to pick Switzer or Donnell Pumphrey when the Eagles traded to the spot ahead of Dallas to take Pumphrey.
Other Notable Players Available – Jake Butt (TE), Desmond King (DB), Xavier Woods (S), Nathan Peterman (QB), George Kittle (TE), Chad Hansen (WR), Carlos Watkins (DT), Will Holden (OT), Roderick Johnson (OT)
Rationale for the Pick – The team really needed an upgrade at punt returner and the team can use two slot receivers at a time to spread out defenses. As I wrote in an article a few weeks ago, this is the type of receiver that the team could target based on Dak Prescott’s passing tendencies. Switzer can also provide a strong backup to Beasley and protect the team if Beasley is lured away after his contract expires after the 2018 season.
Message Board/Twitter Fan Reaction (Unscientific) – Mostly negative.
Unqualified Personal Grade (B+): Prior to the pick and based on the CBS list of best available players, my focus was on Jake Butt, Desmond King, and George Kittle. However, Switzer is a very good player and a great fit with the team. If James Hanna returns from injury and Rico Gathers has progressed as well as has been reported, adding another tight end would force the team to either keep four tight ends or trade/release a good one. Adding Switzer should be a much needed upgrade from Whitehead. Based on his commitment and work ethic, Switzer and Prescott could be the players that set an example for others after Jason Witten retires. One area of concern noted by Todd McShay that will need attention is his penchant for fumbling. This is something that Beasley struggled with early in his career that he has improved at – hopefully Switzer can also overcome the issue.
Round 6, Pick 191 – Xavier Woods (S)
The Cowboys made a move to trade up for Woods, trading their 2018 5th round pick. This is a great value move considering the historic depth in this draft. The 2017 6th round talent will likely equal of exceed the talent in the 2018 5th round. Woods is a player that has been linked to the Cowboys for awhile and he fills one of the two primary remaining needs, with OT being the other. Woods had 14 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles over his last 3 seasons. Adept playing single high or in the box. Weaknesses are a higher missed tackled rate and being susceptible to being beat as a result of taking chances.
Other Notable Players Available – Brad Kayaa (QB), Adam Bisnowaty (OT), DeAngelo Henderson (RB). Kayaa and Henderson haven’t been linked to Dallas and don’t play positions of particular needs, but were favorites of mine at this stage of the draft.
Rationale for the Pick – Safety was the last remaining position that had a significant need, and Woods was a highly ranked player who had also met with Dallas. His ability to create turnovers is a trait that is needed on a team that hasn’t created turnovers despite the coaching staff making creating turnovers a priority. Todd Archer wrote than he was the top ranked player on the team’s board at the time.
Message Board/Twitter Fan Reaction (Unscientific) – Ecstatic
Unqualified Personal Grade (A): I hadn’t done much research on Woods, but all of the reports and video I subsequently reviewed indicates that he is a good team fit and a good value in the 6th round.
Round 6, Pick 216 – Marquez White (CB)
Dallas traded down from pick 211 and picked up a 7th round pick from New England. According to Mel Kiper, White played very well in 2015 but struggled in 2016. As the #6 corner, White is the first draft pick that I don’t expect to make the opening day roster. Now if Orlando Scandrick is traded, that would open up a spot. This was an interesting pick with Jalen Myrick, who visited with the team, still on the board. Interestingly, David Moore wrote that the Cowboys were ready to draft Brad Kayaa, but the Lions snagged him at pick 215. Kayaa would have been a good fit. He is a good downfield passer but struggles when pressured and isn’t particularly mobile, which was a problem due to the weakness of the offensive line at the University of Miami. Going to a team with a great offensive line could have allowed him to develop into a decent backup.
Round 7, Pick 228 – Joey Ivie (DT)
Ivie is a penetrating nose tackle who has good speed and quickness. He comes out of his stance high rather than keeping his pads low. With the defensive tackles on the roster (Maliek Collins, David Irving, Cedric Thornton, Stephen Paea, Tyrone Crawford), barring injury, he might have to settle for a spot on the practice squad. One thing to keep in mind is that Dallas has two DTs in the final year of their deals (David Irving and Stephen Paea) and another two who have so far under-achieved their contracts and who the team might want to move on from after this season (Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton). So the only fairly sure thing at DT for 2018 currently on the roster is Maliek Collins.
Round 7, Pick 239 – Noah Brown (WR)
High upside pick, which is what picks this late should be about. Brown is a big receiver at 6-2, 222 who has good ball skills, but is raw with limited experience. Played with and against top competition at Ohio State. Good candidate for the practice squad who could replace Brice Butler in 2018.
Round 7, Pick 246 – Jordan Carrell (DT)
Another DT and, as mentioned above, this might be a guy that will be stashed for a possibility to contribute in 2018.
The Cowboys appear to have done a very good job of getting good value while still filling needs, which is difficult when there are several needs going into the draft. Of course we don’t have any true idea of how the class will work out.
Work Left to be Done
The Cowboys didn’t add anyone at OT, and that may signify that they have confidence in Chaz Green and Byron Bell. As weak as this class was at OT, what are the chances of getting lucky with an undrafted free agent (UDFA)?
Other positions with little depth that may attract interest are quarterback and running back.
Question of the Day
How would you grade the Cowboy’s draft?
As always … comment below!