The Dallas Cowboys headed into his offseason with a plethora of needs that were heavily skewed towards the defensive side of the ball. Particularly, the team is in dire need of help in their secondary. The unit was one of only seven that allowed opposing passers to throw for a passer rating of 100 or better last year.
Needless to say, the safety and cornerback position are both among the, if not the, most pressing needs the Cowboys had heading into this offseason. The team was able to reach a blockbuster deal with its starting quarterback Dak Prescott and still managed to head into free agency with roughly $20 million in cap space.
It has been a characteristically quiet start to free agency for fans of America’s Team. However, many fans (and some analysts) matter-of-factly suggest that this lack of activity in free agency should be seen as a good thing. Let other teams’ overpay for players in free agency, they say.
However, what these fans and analysts fail to appreciate is just how bad the Cowboys have been at drafting certain positions over the past decade. These fans take comfort in the fact that Dallas has been relatively good at drafting offensive lineman (Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick), wide receivers (CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Dez Bryant), and quarterbacks (Dak Prescott).
(Correction: Tony Romo was originally mentioned in the above paragraph. He was in fact an undrafted rookie free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003. We apologize for the error.)
These fans seem to conveniently ignore how awful the organizations’ recent track record has been at drafting cornerbacks, safeties, and defensive tackles. These are three of the biggest needs the team has heading into 2021.
Over the past eleven NFL Drafts (since 2010) the Dallas Cowboys have selected 13 cornerbacks, seven safeties, and seven defensive tackles. Those 13 cornerbacks have combined for a whopping one Pro Bowl appearance (Byron Jones in 2018) which is one more than the 14 combined drafted players at the safety and defensive tackle position.
That track record certainly should not inspire confidence in fans of America’s Team, yet many fans seem to want to bet the future of those positions on another player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, why? The Cowboys had the resources to pursue good players at these positions like safety John Johnson III, cornerback William Jackson III, and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, but instead allowed those players to be picked up by other teams at a cost they could have afforded.
Fortunately, there are still a handful of good free agents at these positions still remaining in free agency (read about some of them here). Even with a relatively strong, albeit top-heavy, draft class for the cornerback position the team should still consider pursuing a proven player in free agency. Meanwhile, the dearth of talent in this years’ safety and defensive tackle class should prompt the organization to try and address these needs in free agency.
The Dallas Cowboys’ recent track record at drafting players at these positions should convince fans of America’s Team as well as the organization itself not to bet it all on the upcoming NFL draft. Even with the teams’ whopping eleven draft picks, with five in the top 100, the organization should still be active in free agency to address some of these pressing needs. Anyone who says differently should really be given a history lesson.