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Mailbag: Assessing Draft Needs In The Secondary


If the Cowboys have two non-cornerbacks they can't pass up in the first two rounds, are there any options after Round 2 to land a starter opposite Trevon Diggs? — PETER METZGER / LAKE GENEVA, WI

David: I think you're asking for trouble if you're expecting a guy drafted outside the second round to be a Day 1 starter. This is a tough league, and the learning curve is steeper the further you go in the draft. Take Michael Gallup for example. The guy is a fantastic player, and his arrow continues to point upward. But he wasn't ready for a starting role at the outset of 2018, and it took him most of that season to get comfortable. You could say something similar about Neville Gallimore this past year. If the Cowboys want a starting-caliber cornerback out of this draft, they should probably find him with their first or second-round pick.

Rob: Yeah, I agree that it's tough to bank on a third-rounder instantly starting and contributing. Gallimore did join the starting lineup at midseason and showed promise. Maliek Collins did it in 2016. DeMarco Murray did it in 2011. So it's certainly possible, though on paper, it doesn't look like a super-deep cornerback class this year. That's why I wouldn't just assume that both Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie won't be back next season.

I really like what I saw in Garrett Gilbert's gutsy performance as a backup quarterback. With a full offseason, can you see Garrett Gilbert as the Cowboys' backup quarterback in the future? — KENNETH JACOBS / DENVER, CO

David: I think you're on a very smart track. It's hard to imagine the Cowboys can afford to keep Andy Dalton, unless he's willing to take a pretty severe discount to stay here. If the Cowboys need a cheaper option to handle the backup job, Gilbert is already in-house and he has already shown he can perform well when called upon. It's hard to predict how the open market shakes out, but if Dalton leaves, then Gilbert would be my bet to fill that role.

Rob: I definitely can see that if Dalton doesn't return. And due to the cap situation, there are a couple positions where I wonder if they'll have the luxury of paying as much as they did last year. Backup quarterback is one. Backup swing tackle is another. We'll see, but I imagine Dalton would like the opportunity to start again somewhere if the fit is right. That's not possible here with a healthy Dak Prescott. Gilbert is under contract for next season and you're right, he did play pretty well in one start on short notice against (at that time) an undefeated Steelers team.

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