Where do you see Leighton Vander Esch playing this season? He could always return to the weak (Will) side, but Dan Quinn seems to like smaller sideline-to-sideline linebackers for that spot. — Keith Peavy / Lumberton, TX
Nick: I think what we're going to see on defense is something very unusual, not just for the Cowboys, but even for the NFL. It'll be a unique blend of talent and positions, and I think that's a good thing, especially since the offenses have become so dynamic. Defenses can't just be predictable and vanilla like always. Just like you seem to have a read on Dan Quinn, I would imagine the OC in Philly or Washington might be even better when it comes to trends. So I would think you'll see LVE, Jaylon, Neal and maybe a drafted rookie, all mix into the linebacker spot this season in a way we haven't seen before.
Jonny: To be honest, I'm just as curious as you and I think it's a good question. I could see there being some shuffling around at linebacker. If Keanu Neal does indeed play linebacker, there's a world where he can randomly drop into coverage like a safety, confusing the defense and allowing for some different things from LVE, but McCarthy also implied that they tried to change too much in the defense last year, so maybe simplicity is the plan. If you were to make me bet where LVE starts Week 1, I'd probably say the weak side.
I know you can draft "for need" and for the "best available player," but what about drafting to keep a player like Kyle Pitts away from another NFC East team? If Kyle Pitts falls (not likely) and goes to another NFC East team, it could hurt the Cowboys for 10 years. Your thoughts? — James Jordan / Converse, TX
Nick: Let's not forget, the reason the Eagles and Giants are down there by the Cowboys, is because all of them were right there about the same – and none of it was very good. Washington was actually a lot closer in talent than the draft spot it sits in currently. So worrying about what player they're going to get is silly because of course they're going to get someone good, just like the Cowboys. And although Pitts seems to be amazing, I don't recall any tight end that carried a team to the playoffs or the Super Bowl. Sure, Kelce and Kittle are great, and Witten was one of the best ever. But he wasn't the reason they were winning the NFC East, in my opinion. Would I rather Pitts be in the AFC? Yes I would. But if the Eagles or Giants don't draft him, they'll get someone else you have to deal with.
Jonny: I don't know if that's a realistic reason to draft a tight end. There are too many better reason to draft a player and too many reasons why that logic would be unnecessary. He might not be THAT good (doubtful, he seems great). He also probably wouldn't end up on another NFC East team. And if he did, I think you still have to be confident enough to beat a team with a great tight end. As great as Travis Kelce is, I don't think the AFC West has deep regrets about letting Kansas City get him. I think they probably feel that way about Mahomes.