Dallas Cowboys can’t afford to draft out of desperation


Despite being thin at the defensive end position, the Dallas Cowboys must not let desperation dictate next week’s draft strategy.

With news that starting defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is likely to be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season breaking this week, the Dallas Cowboys seem to be put in a place of sheer desperation when it comes to the defensive end position. The team’s other starting defensive end, Randy Gregory is also suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy (as is rumored to be the case with Lawrence.)

Though the Cowboys will be thin at defensive end to being the season, drafting from a place of desperation is a mistake. Furthermore, drafting to fill an immediate hole can have long-term negative consequences on a franchise.

After the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to land the first two picks in the draft, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be in a great position. It is assumed by virtually everyone that the first two picks of the draft will be quarterbacks meaning that when Dallas picks at No. 4, it could have its choice of any defensive player in the draft.

This situation could be thwarted if the San Diego Chargers take a defensive player (most likely Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey) at pick No. 3 but many do not see the Chargers going in that direction. So what should the Dallas Cowboys do if the organization has its pick of any defensive player in the draft?

Fans and many media experts simply assume that Dallas will select Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa at pick No. 4 to help offset the team’s lack of depth at the position. However, this logic is flawed.

The NFL Draft is a long-term proposition. Making the wrong pick, for whatever reason, can force a team to spend years trying to cover one draft mistake.

For example, look at the Cowboys’ recent history of drafting corner backs. Since 2008, the Dallas Cowboys have selected a corner back with a first round pick on three separate occasions.

Furthermore, the team has spent a total of 10 picks during that time trying to fill the position. When those picks did not pan out, the Cowboys overpaid current corner back Brandon Carr by giving him a five-year, $50.1 million contract in 2012.

Because the team was desperate to find a corner, it allocated too many resources for one position on the field to the detriment of the rest of the roster. Now, it appears the Dallas Cowboys are in danger of repeating this mistake again at the defensive end position.

In each of the previous two NFL Drafts, Dallas has spent second round picks on defensive ends (Lawrence and Gregory). Now, because of poor decisions made by each player the team is likely to spend a top 70 pick on the defensive end position for the third consecutive draft.

However, Dallas should look at this situation long term. Sure, the loss of Gregory and Lawrence leaves the team thin to being 2016 but a team should not make a pick to fill a four-game need.

Rather, pick No. 4 must be a pick that turns out to be a Pro Bowl player for the foreseeable future. It is such near sighted thinking that has cost the Cowboys numerous times under the leadership of owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

If the team truly feels Bosa is the best player available at pick No. 4, the Dallas should select him. Though the team must beware because Bosa was suspended on game last year for refusing to take a drug test at Ohio State.

If both Ramsey and Bosa are on the board at pick No. 4, Dallas must decide which pick is most likely to be a long-term cornerstone of the franchise. The team has not picked this high in the draft in over two decades and it must emerge from this draft with a future star.

It would be a shame if Dallas drafted Bosa because of a four game situation in 2016 only to see Ramsey become the next superstar safety like former Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens while Bosa tops out as a nice player but not a potential Hall of Fame Inductee. Dallas must look past the immediate and focus on what is best for not only the 2016 team but the 2022 team as well.

Plus, keep in mind that rookie defensive ends rarely record more than a handful of sacks as they learn the NFL game. Both Gregory and Lawrence failed to record a single regular season sack as rookies so assuming that plugging Bosa into the starting defensive line week on will cure the team’s ills is flawed logic.

Far too often, the Dallas Cowboys have reasoned like fans in that the organization has made draft decisions based merely on instant gratification. Fortunately, in recent years the franchise had made better decisions such as drafting offensive guard Zach Martin rather than former Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel.

If the team’s leadership continues to build for the team’s long-term future, rather than drafting out of mere desperation then this year’s first round pick is likely to be a star for many years to come. But, if panic and overreaction rule the day in the Dallas Cowboys’ war room come draft day, it is entirely possible that the team will be making a selection out of desperation again in the 2017 draft.

Next: Cowboys Top Three Draft Picks - Best Case Scenario

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