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Mailbag: Best Position Battles, Post-Draft? Why Take Taco Over T.J. Watt?

JAMES MITCHELLINDIANAPOLIS, IN
Before the draft I wasn't sure what to expect.  Seeing the class as a whole has me excited to see the 2017 Cowboys. I recognize that although they got five of their top 68 players they won't all pan out, but there should be some intense competition at a lot of positions this year. Which position battles are you looking forward to the most and how do you expect them to turn out in the end?

Rob: Every defensive spot the Cowboys addressed now has more competition. I'm very interested to see how the right defensive end spot shakes out between Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, DeMarcus Lawrence and Benson Mayowa. At cornerback, how much will Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis play right away? At safety, can Xavier Woods, a sixth-rounder whom the Cowboys thought about taking as early as the fourth, beat Jeff Heath for a starting spot? The Cowboys are young on defensive but suddenly a lot deeper.

David:Rob handled the defense, so I'll throw the obvious one out there – wide receiver. The Cowboys spent a fourth-round draft pick on a guy that has the exact same skillset as Lucky Whitehead. They also drafted a big-bodied guy who can block and go get the ball in Noah Brown. The intent is obvious. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley all have roster spots, but there's going to be a battle for the fourth and fifth spots. It's going to be interested to watch Ryan Switzer and Lucky Whitehead at training camp – not to mention the three-man battle between Brown, Brice Butler and Andy Jones.

BRYCE WELLSWACO, TX
Just a simple question. Why Taco over T.J. Watt?

Rob: Watt played 3-4 outside linebacker at Wisconsin, and the Cowboys might have thought that was his best scheme fit. One thing that must be emphasized about Charlton at Michigan: no, he didn't become a full-time starter until his final season at Michigan, but he also got to play as a true rusher in a 4-3 scheme. His senior year was the best indicator of his potential here in Dallas, and he had 9.5 sacks playing with a high ankle sprain. They see a high ceiling for the young man.

David:If you look at the Cowboys' picks this year, I think you can see a bit of a theme. In the hope of fixing their defense, the Cowboys didn't want to project – they wanted to know exactly what they were getting. Nowhere is that more evident than Taco Charlton. He's not the most physically gifted pass rusher in this class. There's even a chance T.J. Watt blossoms into a better player. But this team feels like Charlton can come in and contribute as a 4-3 end right away, and develop from there. I think that was a big part of the appeal.

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