I try to be fairly optimistic after a draft, but I feel like the same questions exist at corner, safety and defensive tackle. Is Kelvin Joseph a penciled in started at corner? Did we get a true run stuffer at DT with the pedigree of an immediate NFL starter? The future at safety is still very cloudy. Aside from adding incredible depth at LB, do you feel like this team truly answered any of those concerns with this draft on paper? — ROB RIGGIERI / RUTLAND, MA
David: This is why I always say the Cowboys need to be more aggressive in free agency, because you aren't going to fix things through the draft alone. Any given draft class typically has one, maybe two immediate contributors. Getting three or four means you did an amazing job. Of the concerns you listed, I probably feel the best about defensive tackle. They're probably not going to start, but Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna may be good enough to rotate. Kelvin Joseph is definitely talented enough to compete for a starting job, but I'm not going to assume anything until he gets onto the field. All told, I think there's reason for optimism here. But there were always more issues than one draft class was going to solve.
Nick: Welcome to the NFL Draft. It's always cloudy both before and after. Just because 11 picks are made, doesn't make the uncertainty go away. You still have the same questions, only now, you've got some names and faces to attach them to. I do feel like the Cowboys made an attempt to fix some of the glaring issues, especially in stopping the run. They got some D-line help that should add to the depth. They've added some cornerbacks to the mix, although not one you feel ecstatic about starting right away. But this was a two-cornerback draft and they were gone before you picked. Safety is still a concern, but it has been for over 20 years, so what's new?
I am reading several "experts" criticize the Cowboys draft for the Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox picks. Starting LBs have missed significant time over the last couple of years, plus Sean Lee's retirement and run defense at times has really struggled. I'm no expert, but I loved the quality of the players the Cowboys picked. Cox is an intriguing player and Parsons could be the most impactful player of the draft next to Trevor Lawrence. Are these "experts" that uninformed? — CHUCK A. / ORLANDO, FL
David: I completely agree with you. I read several recaps over the weekend that suggested linebacker wasn't a need for the Cowboys, and if left me wondering if the writer had even watched the Cowboys in 2020. It's completely fair to say the depth chart is crowded right now – but that's a nice problem to have when Leighton Vander Esch has dealt with injuries and Jaylon Smith has underperformed his contract. I may have issues with some of the Cowboys' decisions during the draft, but addressing the linebacker situation isn't one of them.
Nick: Linebacker was the biggest need on the team. What the "experts" don't always look at is long-term needs. They see Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith and move on to a position that doesn't have former Pro Bowlers. But the truth is, LVE's future is uncertain now that his option wasn't picked up. Jaylon's future is uncertain especially if he doesn't have a bounce back year in 2021. The team lost Sean Lee and Joe Thomas and turned it into Parsons and Cox for this year, and perhaps they could both be starters by next year. But yes, most draft analysts are all uninformed about what the team is trying to do. And that's not by accident – teams aren't trying to give away their intentions.