Entering the first round of the draft, the Dallas Cowboys had several needs on the roster to address. With needs at linebacker, wide receiver, guard, running back, safety, and tight end, the team went to work in the draft. The team started the draft with 10 picks, and ended up selecting 9 players, while trading for 2 other players. Although the team was linked to All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, no trade was completed for the Seahawks’ safety. Here’s a quick recap of the weekend for the Cowboys:
1st Round (19th overall): LB Leighton Vander Esch
2nd Round (50th overall): OG Connor Williams
3rd Round (81st overall): WR Michael Gallup
4th Round (116th overall): DE Dorance Armstrong
4th Round (137th overall): TE Dalton Schultz
5th Round (171st overall): QB Mike White
6th Round (193rd overall): LB Chris Covington
6th Round (208th overall): WR Cedrick Wilson
7th Round (236th overall): RB Bo Scarbrough
The Cowboys had arguably their biggest needs at linebacker and wide receiver. They immediately addressed both by grabbing Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State in round one, and Michael Gallup from Colorado State in round three. Connor Williams fills the starting left guard position on the offensive line, and the team should expect these three players to be contributors from day one in 2018. Overall, the first two days of the draft went exactly as the team could’ve hoped it would.
Surprise Need and Trades:
The Cowboys entered day three with a surprise need. Friday morning, ESPN reported that legendary tight end Jason Witten is on the brink of retirement. Although no official announcement has been made, it is looking like the future hall-of-famer will be calling it a career. The team waited until Saturday to find the right value at the position. Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz gives the team needed competition and could be a surprise starter from this class.
The team used some of their draft capital to fill other needs on the team via trade. The Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys agreed to a trade of former first-round pick Tavon Austin. Austin was drafted as a wide receiver, but will be used as a running back, according to reports. Austin gives the team the change-of-pace back they were looking for behind Ezekiel Elliott.
After completing the Austin trade, the team didn’t sit still. With excess players at wide receiver, and a need at defensive tackle, Dallas began shopping. Shortly thereafter, 2017 draft pick Ryan Switzer was traded to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for DT Jihad Ward. Ward showed enough potential to be a second-round pick two seasons ago. The team will be hoping to unlock his potential and provide needed depth.
Overall, its hard to find fault with the Dallas Cowboys draft strategy. They executed their plan of addressing needs, without feeling pressure to sacrifice value in each round. The trades for Tavon Austin and Jihad Ward give the team depth at positions of need, while providing the potential for more if Austin and Ward can play like their draft pedigrees would suggest. Cowboys’ fans should be happy with the 2018 draft haul, and expectations for the rookies will be high entering the offseason.
2020 NFL Draft Recap
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