The Dallas Cowboys had high expectations entering the 2020 NFL season. That changed rather quickly. Quarterback Dak Prescott played only five games due to a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle in Week 5 against the New York Giants. Not only did the Cowboys have Prescott’s injury to deal with, but there was the distraction of his contract situation. Before the season started, the Cowboys signed both running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper to contract extensions totaling 11 years for $190 million.
The Cowboys still have numerous needs while their win-now window remains open. Their rushing offense finished in the bottom half of the league, with Elliott accounting for a mere 979 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Tony Pollard was next in line with 435 rushing yards. They also need to address the offensive line. The Cowboys gave up the seventh-most sacks with 44 (23 in 2019) and only mustered 4.2 yards per rush (4.8 in 2019).
Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys finished the 2020 season with one of the worst defenses in the league. They were in the bottom third in allowing rushing yards and touchdowns in addition to giving up a staggering 5.0 yards per carry. They also face the possibility of losing four defensive backs to free agency this year, putting a sizeable hurt on their secondary. Head coach Mike McCarthy replaced defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
Owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have plenty on their plates this offseason and this is one look at how they will fill their needs in the draft.
Round 1, Pick 10: Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina
With the pending loss of four defensive backs, the Cowboys need to snag a top cornerback to play opposite 2020 first-round pick Trevon Diggs. Horn has been rising up draft boards and pushing Patrick Surtain II for the honor of being CB1. Horn has played both as a slot corner and outside corner, which is where he will fit better in the NFL. He possesses the ideal height and weight to play against the top receivers in the league and should be one of the top three cornerbacks drafted in 2021.
Round 2, Pick 44: Dillon Radunz, Tackle, North Dakota State
We were only able to watch Radunz play in two games in 2020 against Central Arkansas and in the Senior Bowl. However, in those games, he was excellent. A 6-foot-5 and 304-pound tackle, Radunz has the ideal size that will translate well to the next level and he showed that he could hold his own in one-on-ones with top-level prospects. Radunz is spectacular at run-blocking, fits right in how North Dakota State operated on offense and how the Cowboys can run with Elliott in the offense.
Round 3, Pick 75: Baron Browning, Linebacker, Ohio State
Browning is one of four senior Ohio State linebackers (Justin Hilliard, Pete Werner, Tuf Borland) in the 2021 NFL Draft and could have entered the 2020 draft, but decided to hang around for his senior season and boost his draft stock. Browning has excellent field vision and can sneak between the tackles and get into the backfield and disrupt plays. His speed off the line can be a killer for offensive linemen. Browning can be used as a run defender or drop into coverage and be a three-down linebacker in the NFL.
Round 4, Pick 106: Jacoby Stevens, Safety, LSU
Stevens is a swiss army knife and will be a weapon for any NFL team. Mostly, he is a strong safety that can play any position. While at LSU, Stevens has played inside and outside linebacker, slot corner and safety. Coming in at 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins, Stevens possesses perfect size for playing that versatile rover in the NFL. Stevens would fit right in with the Cowboys and could be a steal in the fourth round.
Round 6, Pick 168: Osa Odighizuwa, Defensive Tackle, UCLA
Labeled as an interior defensive lineman, but coming in at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins at 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, Odighizuwa may see more playing time at the next level as a defensive end. He has impressive speed at the snap and has a solid repertoire of moves to beat offensive linemen to make plays. Gaining a few more pounds could push Odighizuwa to be one of the top interior defensive linemen in the draft. Whether he ends up in the interior or on the outside, he would be an asset for the Cowboys.
Round 7, Pick 202: D.J. Daniel, Cornerback, Georgia
Another Senior Bowl attendee, Daniel, impressed during Senior Bowl week. He was stuck behind Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell at Georgia, so he didn’t get to show his skills. The Cowboys need defensive back help and there will be none better than Daniel in the seventh round. He might not be there, but if he is, the Cowboys need to snag him. Depth at the defensive back position is valuable and can pay dividends down the road.
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