Phillips: Corner Or Pass Rusher At No. 28? I'd Go This Route For 2 Reasons

FRISCO, Texas – Interesting hypothetical on Talkin' Cowboys this week:

If your draft board says there's a toss-up between an edge rusher and a cornerback at No. 28, what would you do?

If there's a dead-even grade between a player who can help you cover the upgraded receiver talent across the NFC East, or a guy who can deliver more pressure against the likes of Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz, who's your pick?

The most pragmatic answer is actually a question:

Which position, defensive end or corner, is deeper in this draft? Which spot can you more afford to wait on for a round or two?

If you ask Bryan Broaddus, host of The Draft Show, he'll tell you there's more talent at corner than defensive end, top to bottom. That educated info helps me form my answer.

I say, draft me the pass rusher, for one other simple reason:

Aaron Rodgers, who, by the way, is on the 2017 list of regular-season opponents once again.

The Cowboys missed two of the last three NFC Title Games by an eyelash because the Green Bay Packers' star quarterback made them pay with his arm and his feet.

This is not to discredit the current Cowboys pass rush. Their perceived woes have been exaggerated. Here's why:

  • The Cowboys produced 36 sacks last season, well within the top half of the NFL (13th) and the franchise's highest total since the 2011 season.
  • There's reason to believe young players such has Benson Mayowa (25) and David Irving (23) will improve.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence (back) and Tyrone Crawford (shoulder), if he stays on the edge, should return healthy following offseason surgery.
  • There's optimism last year's fourth-round pick Charles Tapper will rebound from a back injury that wiped out his entire rookie season.
  • And perhaps free-agent signing Damontre Moore will find a permanent home in Dallas after stints with four teams in four years.

Based on sheer numbers, you might say the Cowboys are better off at defensive end than corner, where Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne have departed through free agency. And at No. 28, you might not find the "war daddy" pass rusher Jerry Jones has referenced as a pressing need.

Then again, you might not find Deion Sanders at No. 28, either.

Of course you expect a first-round pick to develop into a starter soon, if not right away. But here's the thing about defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's rotation: a rookie pass rusher doesn't need to be a walk-in starter. Coach Rod is going to play all eight, nine guys on his defensive line every week.

In the short term, the Cowboys just need another piece to the puzzle for 2017, a player who can help nudge this pass rush into the top 10. If the best available option is the right fit as early as No. 28, draft him.

Look at it this way: Remember how much optimism Randy Gregory created in December coming off a 14-game league suspension (which now will continue for at least another year)? If he were eligible, he probably wouldn't have played 60 snaps against the Packers in the playoffs. Maybe he would have played 30 – but that was enough to think he could be a real difference maker against a guy like Rodgers.

Look, this entire conversation is predicated on how the Cowboys will ultimately set their board and which needs they feel are most important. Only they know that.

The general consensus outside the war room is pass rusher and corner should rank near the top of their wish list.

Under that scenario, draft me a rushman as early as possible.

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