In the next few days, you will hear the term "Best Player Available" many times, both by the Cowboys and other teams as they prepare for the draft.
But for the Cowboys, this year and with this team, there needs to be a word included into that phrase.
Best Defensive Player Available.
Yes, the offense might have some questions on the offensive line or with a third receiver. But the biggest holes on the team are on defense.
The Cowboys must fix the defense and when it becomes time to pick at No. 17, they need to make sure they get someone who can tackle, who can cover – and preferably, both.
Here are six defensive players that make sense for the Cowboys either at No. 17, or a little later in the first round if a trade is involved.
C.J Henderson, CB | Florida
- He needs to gain some strength in order to improve as a tackler, but his height and athleticism makes him a great prospect in the draft.
- He has very good speed and instincts. Fast feet but smooth. He doesn't give up on the play, he knows how to make adjustments.
- He's a smart guy and can easily recognize routes. He's agile and has good vision, he can chase the ball.
- He also has good body control, can make good cuts, and his size allows him to cover tall receivers.
Why He Fits
The Cowboys need a cornerback who can play right now, especially after losing Byron Jones to the Dolphins. Henderson is player with a good discipline. He focuses on doing his job. I think his personality would fit very well with the group dynamics that the Cowboys have in the secondary. He is a player who can contribute immediately and given his experience and success playing against top-tier receivers, the transition to the NFL shouldn't be too difficult for him. Although he needs to improve as a tackler (something the Cowboys have struggled with), Henderson is a very willing player and seems like someone who can easily learn and observe.
Grant Delpit, Safety | LSU
- Delpit has a very good combination of size and speed. He is versatile, physical and super athletic.
- Runs very smoothly. He's got good vision and is good with his hands - he knows how to intercept balls. He lacks consistency as a tackler but is someone who isn't afraid of contact.
- He also has very good instincts.
- He is good in coverage and can make plays anywhere on the field.
- He's impressive at defending the passing game, but he can also help stop the running game and even hit the quarterback.
Why He fits
Despite the fact the Cowboys signed veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency, there is a need for a long-term fix. Delpit has all the qualities necessary to create an impact from the day one.
Part of the problem that the Dallas defense has had comes from poor tackling and failure to create takeaways. Although Delpit is not known for being the best tackler, his overall talent outweighs that flaw. I believe he can improve his tackling technique as he gains experience and undergoes some good training. Outside of that, he is a player who can help elevate this defense and create mismatches against the opposing team. He's someone who can be very disruptive... Just what the Cowboys need at the safety position.
Trevon Diggs, CB | Alabama
- He has the strength and size to compete against tall receivers.
- Despite his weight and length, he has good foot agility and can move fast. He has good vision and is good with his hands - he can chase the ball and intercept it. He has good instincts, but sometimes he isn't patient enough to analyze the situation well.
- When he loses control, he reacts without thinking and ends up making mistakes where he tries to hold or pull the receiver.
- He lacks a bit of discipline and has to improve his tackling technique, but he still has the talent necessary to become a good NFL player.
- He's also had some success returning kicks on special teams.
Why He Fits
With good training, Diggs is someone who can definitely help you elevate your game. Cowboys need someone who doesn't have a huge learning curve. And I think this is the type of player who learns fast. Due to his past experience as a wide receiver, he understands and knows how to identify routes. On top of that, his size and length is something that automatically helps him have a presence in the field. He can help the Cowboys in covering big receivers and create disadvantage in man-to-man coverage.
Xavier McKinney, Safety | Alabama
- He's a super smart and versatile player. He has good instincts and knows how to make quick adjustments.
- Good coverage, although sometimes he allows a little separation between him and the receiver.
- He has good feet and has the necessary speed to attack and seal the play. He knows how to anticipate the ball and makes good cuts. He's strong and does not fear when attacking.
- McKinney can also make plays against the run (an area the Cowboys had trouble with last season). He's also a safety who can get interceptions and take it all the way to the end zone.
- He's a playmaker, someone who can help change the game and create momentum.
Why He Fits
In recent years, the Cowboys defense has struggled with tackling and creating takeaways. McKinney has the ability and talent to become a starter. He is a player who can help make a difference and contribute right away… something that the team needs at the safety position, despite landing Clinton-Dix in free agency.
Javon Kinlaw, DT | South Carolina
- Kinlaw is an explosive player with a lot of potential. His best quality is his physique, his body type.
- He's a big guy with good frame - which makes him very strong, especially in the hands. His arm length helps him a lot at the moment of attack. He has power and can move his opponent.
- The thickness of his legs helps him with balance, creates posture and makes the opponent have to work harder in order to stop him. A lot of times he's had to deal with double teams.
- Despite his physical qualities, Kinlaw has not been a super consistent player. He lacks instinct and needs to improve on his technique.
- Sometimes it's very noticeable that his movements / reactions are out of step with what is going on. He's not always quick to adjust.
- Obviously he still needs to develop as a player, but one of the key things that he needs to learn is how to observe the field.
Why He Fits
Last year the Cowboys drafted defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second round. But while he didn't contribute much during his rookie the year, the Cowboys should continue to strengthen the position through the draft. Ideally, your first-round pick should be someone who can contribute immediately. Kinlaw has the potential not only to become a starter but also a player who can help the long run. He has more than the ability to compete for playing time and despite his need for growth, he's someone who can definitely help in the rotation. The Cowboys' defensive line did not have a good season in 2019. They didn't manage to put a lot of pressure and weren't effective in stopping the running game. Kinlaw's size / physique can go a long way.
Kristian Fulton, CB | LSU
- He's got a good frame for a cornerback along with a good mix of agility, flexibility and body control.
- He doesn't have the best speed and (burst), but he's a player who doesn't like giving up plays. He strives to finish the play. He's not the best tackler but isn't afraid of the contact.
- He's versatile, can play in different coverages. He's got good vision and can chase the ball.
- Fulton is a good competitor, looks for opportunities to make plays.
Why He Fits
Fulton is coming off an undefeated season at LSU where he contributed and was part of the best college team in 2019. He has the ability to become a starter, although he still needs to clean up his game and work on his technique. Regardless, he's still one of the best cornerbacks in coverage and he could be the one to help fill the void that was left after Byron Jones' departure in free agency.