FRISCO, Texas – They entered the NFL Draft on Thursday with 10 picks.
When the smoke finally cleared Saturday evening, the Cowboys came out of the three-day event with a total of 11 draft picks, including eight defensive players.
Now that's how you respond to having one of the worst defenses in franchise history.
The Cowboys knew they had to address their needs on that side of the ball and that's why they did, taking linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th pick on Friday, followed by four defensive players on Friday in the second and third rounds. Then on Saturday, they kicked off the day with another linebacker, LSU's Jabril Cox, marking the first time in Cowboys history to begin one draft with six defensive players.
The Cowboys finished the day with three offensive players – two offensive linemen and a wide receiver – but make no mistake – the emphasis was defense all the way.
That was the plan and they more than executed it.
Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones made sure to have senior VP Will McClay on the podium following the press conference, dubbing him "the man behind the board."
McClay said the Cowboys had a clear goal heading into the draft.
""We came in looking to make us a bigger, longer, stronger, faster defense – and a team," McClay said. "So when we looked at the process and looked at all the prospects, we're looking at how they played the techniques and all those things and seeing how they tie in to what the coaches want and what we were looking for positionally and how we wanted to do things. So that was a big part of it, was spending time with the coaches. The best part of our process is being inclusive – not only just the scouts, but ownership and coaches. We all get in there and do this together and figure out what we want to do."
And the Cowboys did that at every defensive position.
At linebacker, the Cowboys drafted Parsons and Cox, solidifying a spot that had question marks after Sean Lee's retirement, coupled with the uncertain futures to Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. Cox was a player the Cowboys initially targeted as a possible second-round pick but passed on him several times after taking Parsons in the first. But when Saturday's fourth-round rolled around, he was too talented to pass up.
The Cowboys entered the draft figuring to land a cornerback in the first round. But instead, they picked up three corners in Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright and then Israel Mukuamu in the sixth round. While Mukuamu apparently told Jerry Jones he was "going to be the corner" on the team, the Cowboys sound like they're going to start him out at safety, given his 6-4, 212-pound frame.
Defensive line was also addressed on Friday and Saturday. UCLA's Osa Odighizuwa is a quick-twitch defensive tackle that can get up the field. Kentucky's Quinton Bohanna is the opposite, a run-stuffing nose tackle type that can clog the middle. Pass-rusher Chauncey Golston is the only edge player the Cowboys picked up in the draft.