Try as you'd like, but this will be one of the more difficult drafts to predict for the Cowboys because of their stellar work in free agency — meaning nothing is off of the table in KC
FRISCO, Texas — Don't look now, but the 2023 NFL Draft is just over a week away and the Dallas Cowboys are putting the final touches on their big board. With the 26th-overall pick on Day 1 and nine selections total, fans are clamoring with speculation over what the team might do starting Thursday, April 27.
They might've just given a bit of insight into their thought process on Tuesday, a glimpse at best, when Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones took to radio to answer a few questions.
Considering the departure of veteran tight end Dalton Schultz in free agency and the decision to release former two-time rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott, could one of those two positions get the first nod from the Cowboys in Kansas City?
It's entirely possible, so don't go ruling Bijan Robinson out quite yet.
"I'm sure when that first day is over [of this year's NFL Draft], he's certainly gonna have a team, and you never know," said Jones, leaving the door wide open for the former Longhorn should he fall out of what many believe will be a top-10 scenario.
And while it's unlikely Robinson falls, considering he's far and away the best running back on the board and also one of the best athletes in the entire draft class, it's not impossible, lest everyone forget how CeeDee Lamb ended up in a Cowboys uniform in 2020. Robinson is an absolute specimen that, like Elliott in 2016, has the ability to take Dallas' rushing attack to an entirely different level.
That is especially true when considering a tandem with Tony Pollard (as you saw with the Elliott-Pollard dynamic). That said, they did sign two-time Super Bowl champion Ronald Jones as veteran insurance for the upcoming season, meaning they're set either way, but Robinson falling to the back half of the first round for any reason would likely spark a ton of conversation in the Cowboys' war room.
And what of tight end??
"Obviously, you lose a [player like] Dalton Schultz," said Jones. "We drafted [Jake] Ferguson last year, and ended up with great value with [Peyton] Hendershot. We feel good about that position."
Good, but not great, and that's because there is no answer on the depth chart behind Ferguson and Hendershot from both the standpoint of added impact and top-shelf insurance against potential injury.
Bottom line: entering the 2023 season with only two dependable tight ends, and both of whom are in only their second season, isn't a tantalizing thought.
Jones and the Cowboys front office is keenly aware of their situation at the position.
"Certainly, the draft is heavy [at tight end]," he explained. "There are quite a few players in those top 3-4 rounds that we think can be like Ferguson or Hendershot, and come in and really help us."
That's saying the least, and the team did due diligence on several of them over the course of their pre-draft scouting process — names like Darnell Washington (Georgia), Payne Durham (Purdue) and Cameron Latu (Alabama) meeting with the club as Official 30 visits. And then there's Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan), Luke Musgrave (Oregon State) and others who drew formal interest at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
And you can bet if Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) or Dalton Kincaid (Utah) are available, they'll make the Cowboys pause before sending in a card for their respective pick.
So, to Jones' point regarding tight end, there are a lot of options to mull over.
Of course, these two positions aren't the only ones that need attention — e.g., interior offensive line — making it impossible to ascertain who will get a phone call from the Cowboys next weekend; but Dallas has set itself up nicely to make the right call regardless of what they choose to address and when they choose to do it.