A year after posting a 13–3 record and winning the NFC East, expectations were high for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys.
But "America's Team" struggled with consistency, especially when running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games for his role in a domestic violence incident. Dallas lost five games at home, finished 9–7 and missed the playoffs. The Eagles ended up winning the NFC East and ultimately the Super Bowl.
How will the Cowboys use their picks in the NFL draft? We’re breaking down every selection below.
Here's the full list of picks the Cowboys hold in the 2018 draft, which will be updated as each selection is made.
Round 1, Pick 19 (No. 19 overall)
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Andy Benoit's grade: C
Dallas’s biggest need is wide receiver, and every one of them was still on the board when they picked at No. 19. And yet, they went with linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, which suggests they believe that Sean Lee—injury prone, 32 years old in July and a contract expiring in 2019—is nearing his end. If they don’t believe that Lee is almost done, this pick makes no sense with Jaylon Smith on the roster. In today’s NFL, where nickel defense is on the field around 60% of the time, you only need two high-quality linebackers. Vander Esch is a classic three-down ‘backer who started only one year in college. Most likely he’ll learn from Lee and then replace him. Good player, but the glaring need at wideout going unaddressed can’t be forgotten.
Scouting Report: A lanky inside linebacker with the raw athleticism and speed to be a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine, Vander Esch needs to fill out his frame a bit more, but he could step in as an immediate starter as a 4–3 WILL or 3–4 ILB. Medicals, because of a neck injury, are a concern for some teams.
Round 2, Pick 18 (No. 50 overall): Connor Williams, T, Texas
Andy Benoit's grade: B
The Cowboys announced Williams as a guard, but considering that 2015 would-be first-rounder La’el Collins flashed there a few years ago and has since struggled at right tackle, don’t be surprised if Williams winds up playing outside. Either way, the Cowboys now have a fifth super-high-pedigreed offensive lineman. If Williams fulfills the first-round potential that many believe he has, this front five, which was already far and away the NFL’s best, has a chance to be impenetrable in pass protection and unstoppable in the ground game. With no immediate major needs on defense (save for maybe pass rusher), the Cowboys could afford to re-invest in an area of strength.
Round 3, Pick 17 (No. 81 overall): Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
Andy Benoit's grade: B-
Are we looking at a cheaper, younger 2017 Dez Bryant? For Dallas’s sake, let’s hope Gallup is more explosive. This scheme features a lot of spread formations and basic route combinations, and receivers must be able to win one-on-one.
Round 4, Pick 16 (No. 116 overall): Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE, Kansas
Round 4, Pick 37 (No. 137 overall) *compensatory pick: Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford
Round 5, Pick 34 (No. 171 overall) * compensatory pick: Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
Round 6, Pick 19 (No. 193 overall): : Chris Covington, LB, Indiana
Round 6, Pick 34 (No. 208 overall) * compensatory pick: Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
Round 7, Pick 18 (No. 236 overall): Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama