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Eatman: In The End, Cowboys Couldn't Overlook Their Most Pressing Need

FRISCO, Texas –The Cowboys had a need, and they filled it.

It's really that simple when you break it down. Let's not try and overcomplicate the situation.

Whether or not this was the highest-rated player on their board is irrelevant. The team will always tell you this was the guy they targeted all along. And in the case of Leighton Vander Esch, maybe he was.

So in terms of BPA … Best Player Available … I'm sure he was right up there.

But if you're talking BAN, which to me is always more appropriate around draft weekend, that's exactly what Vander Esch is.

Best Available Need. They needed a linebacker and Vander Esch was the guy that fills that void more than anyone else.

Trust me, I'm right there with a lot of Cowboys fans who were scratching their heads on this pick. I've said on our podcast shows that I question him having just one good season for Boise State. I wondered about the injury concerns and his somewhat lack of physical presence on tape.

But we all have to trust the guys in the War Room more than the highlight clips we see here and there.

Just go back five years and remember how you felt about the trade back to land Travis Frederick. People were downright irate about that one. Turned out to be arguably the best value pick the Cowboys have ever made in the first round.

But then again, it doesn't always turn out that way either. Mo Claiborne wasn't a good move. The jury is still out on Taco Charlton as well.

So figuring out if this is a good pick right now is pointless. We really can't tell for a while.

But what we do know is that this fills a need. And sometimes, picks are made more about the depth at the position and the lack of depth at others.

Remember last year when the Cowboys drafted Taco in the first round but passed on cornerback Kevin King. To me, that was all about knowing they could get Jourdan Lewis and Chido Awuzie in the next couple of rounds, but didn't like the lack of depth at end.

Same thing with the linebackers. After Vander Esch and then Rashaan Evans, who I'm hearing wasn't even close to the same grade as the Boise State standout, it drops off dramatically.

I think the Cowboys knew they couldn't walk away from getting a linebacker now, knowing there are some good receivers still on the board for Friday.

The Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber and only signed veteran Joe Thomas. When you add Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, along with Damien Wilson, the Cowboys were rather thin at linebacker, and that's assuming both Lee and Smith will be healthy.

If they're banged up next year, then covering themselves with Vander Esch makes sense … as long as he can play.

None of this matters at all if he can't contribute on the field. Yeah, it 's easy to say Bobby Carpenter because the Cowboys drafted him. But he'll be coached by Rod Marinelli, who is relating him more to Brian Urlacher, a guy he definitely coached in Chicago.

Hey, I'll even take somewhere in the middle of those two, but hoping it's closer to the Hall of Famer and former Bears All-Pro.

Whether he turns out to be great remains to be seen. But there certainly was a great need at this position, and that is what the Cowboys simply couldn't ignore.

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