What will the Dallas Cowboys do in the first round?

Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain II Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama defensive back Patrick Surtain II Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It has been five years since the Dallas Cowboys have been in a position to draft within the first ten picks of the NFL Draft. To say that making the right call when it comes to what to do is crucial would be an understatement.

Back in 2016, Dallas had a very difficult choice between Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. While neither would have been the “wrong” choice, there is at least some discussion as to whether or not the Cowboys made the “right” call.

That statement is incredibly difficult to type given what Elliott has already provided this team. In just five years, Elliott already has amassed more than 6,300 yards rushing, three Pro Bowl appearances, two rushing titles, and an All-Pro selection in his rookie campaign.

The problem is that a running back, no matter how great the player becomes, is never going to be considered as valuable as a premiere shut-down corner. Of course, that is precisely what Ramsey has become.

Ironically, the Dallas Cowboys should have another shot at a shut-down corner in this year’s draft. The decision to be made will come down to whether or not they address that position and, if so, which one they choose.

The 2021 NFL Draft appears to be the rare event where the talent available and the team’s drafting needs are a perfect marriage. The top two teams making selections are absolutely taking quarterbacks. The team choosing third gave up three first-round picks to move up to that spot, a clear indication they are looking at quarterback as well.

The next four teams do not need quarterbacks, but desperately need to augment their offenses with superior talent. It just so happens that a stud at left tackle, a generational tight end, and two amazing receivers will be there to fill those voids.

That makes the Carolina Panthers the first point of interest to the Dallas Cowboys. Despite signing free agent A.J. Bouye recently, it would not be shocking to see Carolina draft another cornerback.

They could also use this pick to get the best overall linebacker in this draft in Micah Parsons as they do need help at that position as well. In fact, only draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. over at ESPN has Carolina looking at offense. Next up is the Denver Broncos, who almost everyone has using this pick on a quarterback to challenge incumbent Drew Lock for the starting spot bringing us to the Dallas Cowboys.

In this seemingly likely scenario, if Carolina did choose a corner, Dallas would have two from the pool of Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Caleb Farley to select. They could also trade down as many project at least one team (cough New England, cough) to be in the market for a quarterback as well. Doing so would likely net the Cowboys either an additional top 100 pick in this draft or a second, first-round choice next year.

So what will the Dallas Cowboys do in this spot? If history is any indicator, the overwhelming likelihood is that Dallas will stay at the tenth spot and address the need at cornerback.

At that point, it comes down to what does it for you. Surtain has no holes in his game. Horn is probably the best cover-corner of the bunch, while Farley has the highest upside and also the biggest concern with his injury history. Surtain and Horn are soon-to-be second-generation professionals. All three played at big-time schools, honing their skills against top talent.

In my opinion, the selection should be Surtain. First of all, every day in practice, Surtain was going against the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, III, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. That’s four first-round receivers he was facing day in and day out. Throw in those LSU guys he faced once a year and he’s definitely NFL-ready.

Secondly, if Surtain is the choice, he will be reunited with his running mate in Trevon Diggs. Even though there were some bumps in the road during his rookie campaign, Diggs showed he’s on the way to being one of the top young corners in the league. Many other Crimson Tide defensive backs have translated well at the next level as well. Dre Kirkpatrick, Marlon Humphrey, and Kareem Jackson all have carved out stellar careers as NFL defensive backs.

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Two weeks from now, the conjecture will give way to reality. We already know that things are likely to break in a manner in which the Dallas Cowboys should land a talented defensive player at a position of need. Hopefully, they are able to make the “right” choice when it’s their turn to draft.