No matter who you ask, the Dallas Cowboys definitely came away as one of the biggest winners of the 2020 NFL Draft, getting fans excited for the future.
Sometimes in life, people are afforded the luxury of going on heaters. Some heaters last for minutes or hours, some last for days. Consider the Dallas Cowboys organization part of the latter group.
Owner Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones, de facto general manager Will McClay, and head coach Mike McCarthy possibly just presided over the best draft in more than a decade. Heaters often include a myriad of factors, all working in your favor at the same time. The 2020 NFL Draft was one of these moments in time.
Maybe the first-ever virtual draft leveled the playing field. Maybe the necessity of relying on the scouting department more than in past years took some “human error” out of the equation. No longer allowing a 70-year old defensive line coach heavily influence selections certainly didn’t hurt either. Whatever the reasoning, the draft haul could go in the books as one of the best in a long, long time.
Look, it is suuuuuuper early. I get it. None of us know if we will even have football to watch in 2020, let alone who will actually perform the way we hope or expect. With that being said, it is hard to not be excited about what transpired from Thursday to Saturday.
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders and National writer Kevin Seifert, both proclaimed the Dallas Cowboys made the best pick in the entire first round. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter gave the Dallas Cowboys draft an “A” grade. Pro Football Focus and SI.com both one-upped that, giving the Dallas Cowboys an “A+” for the efforts.
In all honesty, it is really hard to argue with any of those evaluations. Even if you wanted to be extremely cautious in your optimism, you would have to agree that the Dallas Cowboys draft ended up doing the following:
- Drafting one of the three best receivers, arguably the best, in a very talented group without reaching or trading up to do so.
- Bolstering their cornerback depth, a huge area of need that I covered two weeks ago.
- Adding talent to both sides of the trenches, especially the defensive line, which was another necessary maneuver.
All of that, in of itself, ensured that Dallas Cowboys should earn at least a “B” grade in the 2020 NFL Draft. The combination of who they selected and when, however, was the true magic that put this draft class into its own unique stratosphere.
The Dallas Cowboys should send a huge bouquet of flowers to the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos. As the other two teams to draft a receiver before them, both chose Alabama products over Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. I’ll dive deeper into this pick on Tuesday, but anytime you land a guy from a big program who has back-to-back years of 60+ receptions, 1,150+ receiving yards and 11+ touchdowns, you’re ecstatic.
In round two, with the 51st overall pick, Dallas was able to select a cornerback who was rated as the fourth-best overall by NFL.com, the fifth-best overall by CBSsports.com. If that wasn’t impressive enough, they landed a defensive tackle with the 82nd overall choice who ESPN’s Mel Kiper had rated as the fifth-best overall at that spot. But wait, there’s more! According to Kiper’s evaluations, the Dallas Cowboys also landed the fifth-best overall defensive end… with pick # 179!
When you combine talent with value, that is what makes a draft truly special. Looking back at the 2016 draft, landing running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick was a great pick. Drafting Dak Prescott, 131 picks later in round four, however, is what will make that draft go down as one of the best in franchise history.
The Dallas Cowboys have drafted fairly well over the last decade. Those drafts, by and large, have been carried by their first-round selections. In ten years, only five players (Sean Lee – 2010, DeMarco Murray – 2011, DeMarcus Lawrence – 2014, Prescott – 2016 and Michael Gallup – 2018) that were drafted outside the first round would truly be considered as extraordinary choices.
The 2020 Draft has the potential to change that. Obviously, the seven players chosen over the past three days will need to prove their worth on the field before we can anoint this class in the pantheon of all-time groups. Still, with the value that the Dallas Cowboys received by making the choices they made at the time they did, it’s very easy to get excited about the prospects of the future.