FRISCO - The NFL Draft is almost upon us, and the Dallas Cowboys - even after a 12-5 season - have many needs. Due to the quality and productivity of the players leaving the organization this off-season and a limited salary cap budget (maybe "limited'' by the choice and style of management), the Cowboys must score with their NFL Draft selections to remain competitive not only in the NFC East Division, but the entire league.
And we say they should try to "score'' ...
... while also avoiding risks.
CowboysSI.com, with the assistance of friend Dane Brugler from The Athletic, has identified three top NFL prospects who the Cowboys should avoid with their first-round selection.
1) Kayvon Thibodeaux - The first steer-away should be, Oregon edge-rusher Thibodeaux. This is more about "philosophy'' than it is reality, because chances are Thibodeaux - who has proclaimed himself to be the best player in this class - will be long gone when the Cowboys get on the clock at No. 24.
Nevertheless, for purposes of this evaluation, let's assume the Oregon phenom is somehow still there when the Cowboys go on the clock.
With the loss of Randy Gregory to the Denver Broncos, the Cowboys have needs here, despite having added to the roster former Atlanta Falcons edge (and pupil of Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn) Dante Fowler, Jr. That helps, but ...
A fully-driven Thibodeaux-style player would help even more.
But the player comes with questions concerning his motivation and drive. According to Brugler, Thibodeaux could be viewed as taking occasional plays off.
"He should improve the consistency in which he disengages but plays with high effort, motor, and emotional endurance,'' writes Brugler.
That's not a compliment.
Cowboys Worried? Eagles Brag: We’re an ‘Unstoppable All-Star Team’
The Philadelphia Eagles made some significant and impressive moves this offseason, but was it enough for them to win the East?
Cowboys Challenge: Can Micah Parsons Break NFL Sack Record?
The current record for most sacks in a single season is 22.5, which is shared by former New York Giants star Michael Strahan and last season’s defensive player of the year T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Trevon Diggs and Who? Cowboys Need CB Camp Competition
Will Jourdan Lewis remain the starter at slot corner?
2) Jameson Williams - According to Brugler and other NFL Draft experts, where the Alabama receiver Williams gets drafted is anyone's guess. ... though there is now word that he will be a top-10 guy, and that some teams (the Eagles?) are looking at trading up for him.
Williams was a sure-fire top-10 pick prior to tearing his ACL in the FCS Championship Game in January. Williams finished the 2021 season with 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The production cannot be ignored, but there is a question as to when Williams will be able to play.
With Dallas receiver Michael Gallup also on the mend, and his playing status currently undetermined - CowboysSI.com reported quite some time ago that Gallup should be expected to miss all of training camp and maybe more time after that - the Cowboys should take a pass on the uber-talent of Jameson Williams.
3) Derek Stingley, Jr. - Lastly, there is a question of how confident the Cowboys organization is with the current cornerbacks. (And that's not even counting the police-related issue with Kelvin Joseph.) The position room has some proven and some potential talent, but what if at selection 24, the Cowboys have the option to select LSU's Derek Stingley, Jr.?
Some may say this is a risk worth taking, but Brugler also mentions "lack of consistency" in addition to the injury concerns. Stingley, while a proven college talent at this position, has suffered two major injuries which rendered his 2020 and 2021 seasons suspect. His pedigree and production are undeniable, but injuries should have the Cowboys looking to others to fortify their selection while reducing the risk in the process.
The 2022 NFL Draft could be one where "team need'' and "best player available'' actually are one in the same. The names mentioned above are "nice" vs. "necessary," and/or represent risks that are unnecessary, and in 2022 "necessary'' must win out when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys selections.