IRVING, TX – It's the first week of February, which means it's not time to get worked up about the NFL draft.
There's still the NFL Combine to attend later this month, a bevy of Pro Days to follow. Things don't get genuinely interesting until April, when the Cowboys will begin hosting their chosen 30 players for in-house draft interviews.
And yet, it's hard to ignore the steady stream of draft thoughts and prognostications that are hitting the news cycle since the Cowboys returned from the Senior Bowl.
It started earlier this week, when our friend and contributor Dane Brugler mocked North Dakota State quarterback and Senior Bowl darling Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall to the Cleveland Browns. ESPN analyst Todd McShay upped the ante on Wednesday morning when he mocked Wentz right to the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 4 overall pick.
This is an extremely logical conclusion to come to. Wentz is widely-regarded as a first-round talent, and he just spent the better part of a week working closely with Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan at the Senior Bowl. For those expecting the Cowboys to draft Tony Romo's heir apparent three months from now, Wentz makes the most sense – especially given the popular opinion that Cleveland will set its sights on Cal quarterback Jared Goff.
It once again raises the all-important debate that has raged around the Cowboys since Thanksgiving, when Romo broke his clavicle for the second time in two months: with such a valuable draft pick, do you secure the future at quarterback, or draft a player that can make a more immediate impact?
This is the part where I remind everyone of how early it is in the draft process, but I have a hard time imagining the Cowboys selecting a quarterback fourth overall – and I'm even more confident that if they do so, it won't be Carson Wentz.
That's not a knock on Wentz, or any other quarterback in this draft class. Both Goff and Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch will wind up in consideration for the Cowboys at No. 4 overall before this is all said and done. As important as a good quarterback is in this game, that's totally justifiable.
One more time: it's early. It's so early in this process that we haven't seen how the free agency period will shake out. Think of all the roster questions that were unresolved at this time last year and how they were eventually answered.
Which is why I don't think the quarterback situation will look the same in late April as it does today. The Cowboys know that upgrading their quarterback depth is a priority, and they can't afford to wait for the draft to do so. There are several soon-to-be free agents that strike me as affordable improvements over Kellen Moore on this depth chart. And of course, there are the oft-rumored possibilities of acquiring another team's castoff – such as Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III.
Now, will the presence of another quarterback prevent the Cowboys from drafting another one? It shouldn't – assuming they genuinely think one of these quarterbacks is their best option at No. 4.
But that's the crux of this issue. I'm forecasting just a bit, but I just don't see them thinking that when all is said and done. There's too much uncertainty elsewhere, and there's too many question marks about this quarterback class.[embeddedad0]
One of these guys might become a future start, but I just don't see the can't-miss prospect like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston.
What I do see is a long list of readymade contributors at several other positions – Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Laquon Treadwell. I'll even toss Noah Spence and Ezekiel Elliott into the mix for argument's sake.
There are cornerstone-caliber players to be found at No. 4 who can help right away. There are months left to go, but that's the eventual conclusion I think the Cowboys will come to, as well.