The NFL draft is less than two weeks away and the Dallas Cowboys will be on the board with the 28th pick. Whether the team moves the pick or selects at that spot is anyone’s guess, but they will likely be taking a defensive player with their first selection.
Who the team takes with that pick is up for debate and there are a few schools of thought with Dallas. Some people believe they are just one defensive piece away from the Super Bowl because Jaylon Smith will be back and ready to play.
Others see the glass as half empty, Smith won’t be ready to go and the Cowboys need to add a few good defensive pieces in the draft to have a team worthy of a Super Bowl run.
Regardless of which side you’re on, there is an even bigger debate raging with the Cowboys. Which position is more important for the team to draft first, cornerback or edge pass rusher?
First things first, the defense needs help at both spots. They are also two of the premium spots, not only for a defense, but for an overall organization, that determine whether a team wins or loses. Quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and cornerbacks are routinely the biggest difference makers on a roster.
So which is more important for the Cowboys to place a priority on in the draft? There are cases to be made for each position.
The biggest need for the team appears to be at defensive end. Rod Marinelli has done some great work with this unit since he’s taken over as defensive coordinator, but his scheme works best with a dominant pass rusher. Dallas lacks a premier edge player, but they have a nice rotation of young players. Benson Mayowa, David Irving, and DeMarcus Lawrence are part of a healthy rotation, but the defense also has Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford and Charles Tapper, who they are very high on, to help get after the quarterback. Irving might be on the verge of stardom if he puts it all together in his third year. If Randy Gregory stays clean (for the future) and Jaylon Smith can rush the passer like Jerry Jones thinks he can, the team isn’t as desperate as many think to draft a pass rusher.
Then there’s the cornerback position, where the team might have a bigger issue. Orlando Scandrick can still play, but he’s getting older and remains the top player at the position for Dallas. The Cowboys also have second-year corner Anthony Brown and veteran Nolan Carroll to fill out the top three spots. Brown had a nice rookie year and should be able to build on it and Carroll fits the system, but the group needs help.
Luckily for the Cowboys, both positions have good depth in the draft. The NFC East has good quarterbacks and very good receivers, so disrupting the passing game is of the utmost importance. No position affects the quarterback more than an elite pass rusher, but at 28, can the Cowboys draft a premiere guy? It looks more likely that the team can pick a better cornerback at that spot and find the same kind of edge player later in the draft.
It’s all up for debate and the Cowboys will need to make their decision next Thursday (or Friday if they trade back), but corner looks like where they need the most help. It’s probably also the place where they can get the better player at pick 28. However, it’s hard to resist the temptation to draft an edge rusher when it’s what the defense is built around and winning games is predicated on disrupting the quarterback.
The Dallas Cowboys can’t go wrong by drafting either position; hopefully they select a player who plays up to his draft status. We’ll find out soon enough.
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