FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys said all along that defense would be the primary focus on draft weekend, and indeed, seven of their nine picks went to that side of the ball.
The team jumped at the opportunity to select Michigan pass rusher Taco Charlton at No. 28 on Thursday night, and by the time the draft ended on Saturday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said they had selected five players ranked in their top 68 overall prospects.
Which rookie was the best value pick in the Cowboys' 2017 draft? The DallasCowboys.com staff debates.
Nick Eatman: I might not be able to correctly pronounce Chidobe Awuzie just yet, but I know he brings a ton of versatility to the table. For me, that makes him the most valued pick of this class because we're talking about three, potentially four positions he could play. Now, I've said before that versatility can sometimes be a curse to young players, especially if the coaches end up moving him back and forth too much and they never develop their own craft with one spot. But in this case, since the secondary was in such need of playmakers, I think Awuzie can be a nice fit. Not only does he play outside corner, but he can line up in the slot as well. If safety is his best spot, he's got the tackling ability for that. And he might be the best gunner on the special teams units of anyone else in this draft. That's four different spots he could play. And that is the definition of good value.
Rob Phillips:This one's easy: anytime you're strongly considering a player in the fourth round and you get him in the sixth round, that's value. The Cowboys nearly took Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods at No. 133 overall and went with North Carolina receiver/returner Ryan Switzer instead. Shocked Woods was still around at the top of the sixth round, they traded next year's fifth to the Jets to take him at No. 191 – 58 spots after the Switzer pick. Woods was a ballhawk in college – 14 career interceptions – and can play strong or free safety in addition to special teams. Maybe he's not a starter this year, but he has that type of potential. Last year the Cowboys had a fourth-round grade on cornerback Anthony Brown and got him in the sixth. That worked out pretty well.
Bryan Broaddus: When the draft was rolling through the fourth round and Scott Linehan along with Rich Bisaccia made an appearance on the Ford Center War Room Cam, I thought that San Diego State running back D.J. Pumphrey was going to be the selection. When Pumphrey was selected by the Eagles the pick before they went on the clock and the group didn't flinch – it was Dane Brugler that said this discussion is about North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer. What makes sense about Switzer is his ability to help the team as a special teams performer. The Cowboys averaged just 7.1 yards per punt return and 20.5 per kickoff return which was 23rd in the league in both categories. They went back-and-forth between Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead looking for some type of juice but it just wasn't there. If you look at Switzer's history, he came to North Carolina as a running back and then moved to wide receiver. He cut his teeth early in his career as the team's primary punt returner and became one of the nation's best. It is clear when you watch him play that he still processes those running back skills and traits in the open field with the ball in his hands. He is dynamic in the way he can make tacklers miss. Where Ryan Switzer will be most valuable to this team is a special package player on offense but more importantly a weapon in the return game that can flip the field and set up some short field situations for the offense.
David Helman: I believe Jourdan Lewis when he says he thinks he'd be a first-round talent if not for the domestic violence allegations he's facing. If not a first-round pick, then he'd assuredly have gone in the top 50 of the 2017 NFL Draft – which is 50 spots higher than he wound up going. I don't want to appear to make light of this, because Lewis is facing misdemeanor charges after a dispute with his girlfriend. It's a fact that can't be ignored, and it'll reflect really poorly on the Cowboys if their third-round draft pick is convicted on charges he was facing before they selected him. Having said that, it's hard to believe the Cowboys haven't done their due diligence on the matter, with their legal team looking into the situation. On top of that, Lewis himself has insisted several times on his innocence and his confidence that he'll be exonerated in time. If that's the case, then the Cowboys may have just landed a far more talented player than his draft slot suggests. Lewis is capable of playing both inside and outside, and I wouldn't put it past him to win a starting job quickly. In that regard, the whole thing reminds me of the La'el Collins situation – which has worked out rather nicely for the Cowboys.