Despite having major needs on the defensive side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys believe it’s a mistake drafting purely for need over talent.
The Dallas Cowboys had one of the best offenses in the NFL last season. Ranking fifth in total offense in 2016, the Cowboys were led on that side of the ball by two very talented rookies. Finishing the year with a 13-3 regular season record, fourth round quarterback Dak Prescott and first round running back Ezekiel Elliott represent Dallas’ future offensive success.
So naturally, one might believe the Cowboys front office would now turn their gaze to the defensive side of the ball in the upcoming draft. Despite Dallas’ defense ranking first in the league against the rush, allowing only 83.5 rushing yards per game, their passing defense came in at a disappointing 26th. And with three of the Cowboys starters in the secondary currently free agents, Dallas has some major questions to answer concerning the unit this offseason.
And in what may be the most repetitive narrative in the NFL, Dallas still struggles when it comes to pass rush. That’s despite spending several high to medium draft picks to address the issue in the past three seasons.
Clearly, defense is America’s Team biggest need. But according to their front office, that doesn’t mean they’ll look that direction early. In fact, they seem to believe drafting based purely on need is a major mistake.
"“I can’t tell you how the draft’s going to turn out,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told the Dallas Morning News this week. “I think that’s how you make your biggest mistakes, is to say ‘We’re going to pick for need. We’re going to take the best defensive end in the draft, not the best player in the draft when our pick comes.’ So we’ll just have to see how all that plays out. But obviously it’s something that goes without saying: We’re very focused on trying to improve our pass-rush.”"
Although the Dallas Cowboys draft intentions certainly make sense, their defensive unit needs an injection of youth and talent. Getting 2016 second round selection linebacker Jaylon Smith and fourth round pick defensive end Charles Tapper for the first time this upcoming season will absolutely help. But neither address the Cowboys secondary problems. And for a front office that seems dead set in building their team through the draft, defense absolutely needs to be addressed early and often.