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Mailbag: "Is "Best Player Available" The Best Route?


Is the "BPA" strategy really best? Even if someone like Sauce Gardner, Nakobe Dean or Treylon Burks is there at the 24th pick, regardless of player projections, doesn't a top offensive lineman IMPROVE the Cowboys as a team much more than any other place (and especially for years to come)? — THOMAS NARRO / ARLINGTON, MA

David: The thing that makes the draft so fun is that the results unfold over the course of a decade. Ezekiel Elliott was drafted to improve the Cowboys immediately and help extend Tony Romo's window to win a championship. And that decision worked out perfectly for several years. But sitting here in 2022, it's hard not to notice that the guy they opted not to pick, Jalen Ramsey, is the best player at one of the most important positions in football. So yes, while I think a good guard would do wonders to improve this team in 2022, I also don't think you can afford to have a narrow viewpoint about these types of decisions.

Rob: I tend to agree with that because guard is really the one spot they haven't addressed in free agency. They do need somebody who could step in and compete to start right away. But if they didn't follow "BPA," Micah Parsons and CeeDee Lamb wouldn't be here. Lamb's production and potential gave them the flexibility, in their mind, to save cap space by moving on from Amari Cooper, and Parsons transformed the defense in one season. If you're not spending big to sign free agents, then you've got to find future stars in the draft, and you don't accomplish that by reaching too much for position needs.

With college offenses being pass heavy these days, I'm wondering if there are any running backs whose pass blocking stands out on tape, even if they don't jump off the film otherwise as a running back, that could be targeted Day 3 of the draft? — MARCO ASPAAS / VANCOUVER, WA

David: I think there are a lot of fun options starting on Day 3 of this draft. Obviously, no one you draft that late is going to be a finished product, but there are a lot of talented backs coming out of pass-heavy offenses that can hold their own in that regard. Brian Robinson Jr. is a physical dude out of Alabama, and I'm going to keep pounding the table for my guy Rachaad White. Homer alert, but I think Tyrion Davis-Price out of LSU is a physical runner who has plenty of experience staying in to help the quarterback. There are at least half a dozen backs I'd be excited to spend a fourth or fifth-round pick on, for sure.

Rob: I would mention Hassan Haskins (Michigan) as another productive pass blocker in college. Generally speaking, I guess I wouldn't rule out drafting a running back at some point in the middle to late rounds since Pollard is entering the final year of his deal. But Rico Dowdle was part of that backup conversation before injuring his hip last year, so don't forget about him. More than blocking ability, the Cowboys might need to look for a potential punt returner in the draft, whether it's from the running back or receiver position. Cedrick Wilson left in free agency, and maybe the team will cut back Lamb's reps there now that he's the No. 1 receiver.

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