What are the key Cowboys draft needs in 2021?
No matter how you slice it, the 2020 season was not at all what the Dallas Cowboys had envisioned. On offense, they figured to be a juggernaut, with Dak Prescott playing for a long term contract, and weapons Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb lighting up the scoreboard.
On the ground, Ezekiel Elliott was expected to carve up defenses behind a still stout offensive line. On defense, the Cowboys were expected to frustrate teams with the play of athletic linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
Cowboys draft needs 2021
To say that nothing went according to plan would be a bit of an understatement. The good news for the Cowboys is, their subpar season landed them the 10th overall pick in this month’s NFL Draft. They’ll have an opportunity to select a blue chip prospect who can help get the franchise back on track.
There are a lot of directions Dallas can go with this pick, but who are the best options for them?
Patrick Surtain II
Among the Cowboys many problems last year was their inability to stop teams from throwing the ball on them. Dallas was tied for the third worst mark in the NFL last season in touchdowns allowed with 34.
In a league that emphasizes passing more than it ever has before, Dallas needs to sure up their defense through the air in order to stay in games and hold their own.
Dallas selected a cornerback out of the University of Alabama during the second round of last year’s draft in Trevon Diggs, who figures to be a good player in time.
The Cowboys may go back to the same school for additional help at that position, by drafting cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Surtain II is a physical corner who has excellent ball skills, and would be extremely valuable in Dallas.
It was believed that linebacker was a position of strength for the Cowboys coming into 2020.
As it turned out, the players that they relied on to carry them there did not perform as effectively as they did in 2019.
40-yard dash times | Top-10 prospects:
3. Justin Fields – 4.44
5. Kyle Pitts – 4.44
6. Ja'Marr Chase – 4.38
7. Micah Parsons – 4.39
2021 class can FLY🔥 pic.twitter.com/vDz77zft1q
— PFF (@PFF) March 31, 2021
Dallas’s front office has to be a little frustrated and confused at that development. Whatever the case may be, they cannot afford to have subpar production from that part of the defense again.
Even if Vander Esch and Smith bounce back, it would not hurt the Cowboys to have a third blue chip prospect playing alongside them. Penn State’s Micah Parsons is projected to be the top linebacker in this year’s draft, and was a tackling machine at Happy Valley.
In the 2019 season, Parsons recorded 109 total tackles in just 13 games. The main question with him will be his conditioning, since he decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season.
Could the Cowboys double down on what is already an explosive offense on paper and on the field?
They had the fortune of having wide receiver CeeDee Lamb fall to them in the draft last year, when they already were strong at that position.
Dallas certainly doesn’t need a tight end who can help block if their linemen return healthy, or one who is a dynamic pass catcher. But it could be incredible fun for them to select University of Florida’s Kyle Pitts.
At this juncture, it seems like Pitts has a chance to take the NFL by storm and be the complete package right away.
He’s drawn strong reviews for his blocking, which is an area young tight ends sometimes struggle with.
Pitts also profiles as a tremendously talented pass catcher, who can make athletic plays down the field and be a force in the red zone at 6’6”. It’s not a position of need for Dallas, but they would be downright frightening on offense if they took the Gators’ prospect.