By now, just about every player other than a quarterback has been linked to the Cowboys and this No. 10 overall pick.
If you look at the mock drafts – and there's plenty of them out there – the majority of them have the Cowboys taking a cornerback with their first pick. Most of those picks include Alabama's Patrick Surtain, who is undoubtedly the favorite to land in Dallas.
As we get closer to Thursday's draft, we're passing on the question of "what will the Cowboys do" and focusing more on what they would do instead.
So the writing staff of DallasCowboys.com has weighed in with their own strategy, and it's pretty different than what we think will happen.
Kyle Youmans: For anyone who watched, covered, and were around the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, the idea of drafting an offensive player may sound like a joke. Well as a firm believer in the "let the board fall to you" and "best player available" mentality, it is not a joke to me if Rashawn Slater is available at the tenth overall selection. The three-year starting tackle at Northwestern was one of the highest graded players at the position since he stepped on campus in 2017. His size, athleticism and awareness allow him to play every position on the offensive line and because of this versatility, could be a prime candidate to take the issue of offensive line depth and turn it into a strength of the team again. While I don't think it will happen, the Dallas front office could avoid wasting all of the investments made on the offensive side of the football just by picking Slater at 10.
Nick Eatman: First of all, the only trade I would make is to move back a little bit. But I'm not trading up at all and losing out on my 10 picks. I need all of them. But at No. 10, if I've got my choice of defensive players, I'd start with Micah Parsons. He's the guy that jumps off the tape. Sure, he had some off-field issues that questioned his maturity. But if that's under control like it appears to be, bring this guy over on my team. I'd be fine with a cornerback but I think linebacker is more of a uncertain position so give me the best one in the draft. But if Parsons is gone and I have to pick a cornerback, I'll take Horn.
*David Helman: *The Cowboys are very likely going to draft a defensive player with their first pick on Thursday night, and it won't be a bad decision. But let's be very honest and admit that this is why "Best Player Available" is usually a myth. The odds are very good that a better player will be on the board – a wide receiver, as a matter of fact. No, the Cowboys don't "need" Alabama's Jaylen Waddle, but he is an absurdly good football player who could take this offense to an unprecedented level. Waddle is a route-running phenom, and he has better speed than any player who has played here in recent memory. He'd be a threat to go the distance on any given snap, and he'd be a more dynamic return man than even CeeDee Lamb. The natural response is going to be "what about Michael Gallup?" I get it. But Michael Gallup is on the last year of his contract. Jaylen Waddle would secure the future in a big way. It could even allow the Cowboys to trade Gallup for a draft pick or a defensive starter, if they wanted to. The draft is about finding the best players, not pigeonholing yourself for need. I don't think the Cowboys will draft Waddle, but I don't think it would be a bad idea if they did.
Mickey Spagnola: Here is what I can't get past. The Cowboys finished the 2020 season ranked 31st in run defense, giving up 158.8 yards a game, including mind-bobbling sums of 306 yards to Cleveland and 294 yards to Baltimore. And since there doesn't seem to be a defensive lineman worthy of a Top 10 pick bolster the run defense, and not sure how much a cornerback helps the Cowboys biggest problem, or an offensive tackle or tight end, if it were me, my pick for the Cowboys at No. 10 is Penn State uber-versatile linebacker Micah Parsons, 6-3½, 246, runs a 4.39 40, equipped with a nasty nature. End of discussion.
Rob Phillips: Hey, I'm easy. If the Cowboys draft a defensive player at 10, any position, and tell me he'll make an immediate impact, I'm good. We've gone round and round debating their biggest needs these last few months, but the bottom line is they need another playmaker, period, at any of the three levels. I probably lean toward cornerback and Patrick Surtain II because he reminds of me a little of Terence Newman coming out of college: productive, steady, very high floor. I think he'll play in the league a long time and play well. But again, just focus on defense. We spend so much time talking pre-draft that I think we start talking ourselves into less logical moves. The offense was averaging well over 30 points a game before Dak Prescott got hurt in Week 5 last season. The defense has talented players, but after allowing the most points in franchise history in 2020, the focus should be that side of the ball. Early and often.
Jonny Auping: I've stayed pretty firm on my opinion of what the Cowboys should do with the No. 10 pick, and I'm not budging now. I see a guy like Rashawn Slater and I draft him. He might be a foundational offensive tackle in the future. He might be needed this season if La'el Collins or Tyron Smith don't come back at full-health. And he might even be able to play a high level immediately at guard alongside those two players. This offense could be historically great, to the point of making up for a defense that will take more than one player to improve anyway. All of that will vanish if the offensive line can't protect Dak Prescott, who they just invested their entire future in. If you want a great offensive linemen, you should plan on using a top-10 pick to get him, and if you don't plan on picking in the top-10 again soon then this is your chance. Learn from the success of drafting Smith with the No. 9 pick in 2011 instead of using him as an excuse not to draft another offensive tackle.
Gut Feeling Recap:
- Jonny: Rashawn Slater
- Kyle: Rashawn Slater
- Rob: Patrick Surtain
- Nick: Micah Parsons
- Mickey: Micah Parsons
- Dave: Jaylen Waddle
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