Can the Cowboys afford to draft best player available again?

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Will the 2021 draft be a first-round repeat of last year for the Dallas Cowboys?

Entering the 2020 NFL Draft, the position of wide receiver was not viewed as a priority for the Dallas Cowboys. After all, America’s Team had just signed Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million deal the month prior. And 2018 third-rounder, Michael Gallup, was coming off his first 1,000-yard season as a receiver.

The Cowboys’ biggest needs were deemed to be defensive at this very same time last year. Early mock drafts identified the team’s potential draft targets to be defenders like LSU pass rusher
K’Lavon Chaisson, Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson, and Alabama safety, Xavier McKinney.

Despite the lack of defensive playmakers in Big D, the Cowboys’ war room faced a tough decision when Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, arguably the best wide receiver in the entire draft class, was surprisingly still on the board and available when their number was called 17th overall in the first round.

Choosing to draft the best player available rather than for team need, the Cowboys made Lamb their unexpected first-round choice. The talented Sooner would reward Dallas by racking up 74 receptions, 935 receiving yards, and a total of seven touchdowns. That includes a rushing score and a kick return for a touchdown.

The Cowboys would go on to spend their next three draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. But the defense would be historically bad in Dallas at times last season, ending the year ranked 23rd in total yards allowed, 11th against the pass, and 31st against the run.

With the top of this year’s draft class seemingly overflowing with offensive talent, the Cowboys might face another similarly tough decision with the10th overall selection in the first round. While the defense in Dallas is clearly in more need of an upgrade, the most talented college prospect available when the team’s number is called has a very good chance of being on the offensive side of the ball.

Must Read. Dallas Cowboys: Top 5 potential first-round draft picks in 2021. light

But can the Dallas Cowboys honestly afford to deny their defense yet another first-round playmaker and instead continue to stockpile more talent on their already uber-talented offense? That might seem like an easy question to answer right now, with the NFL draft over three months away. But coming up with the right answer will surely be much more complicated on draft night when you have a potential offensive superstar available, at the top of your draft board, and staring you in the face.