When considering who might be the biggest winners and losers of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Dallas Cowboys, it becomes evident just how much of a failure in execution the draft was for this team’s front office and war room.
While judging the actual players drafted by Dallas will come years down the road, the actions and, at times, inaction by the Cowboys brass and their decision-making were unquestionably lacking no matter how you spin it.
While last year’s draft was an example of perfect execution, America’s Team always seemed to be one step behind in this year’s version. Despite suspecting the top two cornerbacks in the draft class, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, could be taken just ahead of their selection at No. 10, the Cowboys brass opted to stand pat.
That allowed Horn and Surtain to be drafted right under their noses at No. 8 and No. 9. And while they saved face by dropping back two spots and getting an extra third-rounder, the Cowboys ended up drafting a controversial player in Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with maturity and off-the-field concerns and who is still developing at a position where the team already has two Pro Bowl defenders in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
The Cowboys again seemed to be a step behind when they allowed the Las Vegas Raiders to leapfrog them in the second round and draft TCU safety Trevon Moehrig. Dallas again stood pat and drafted another player with maturity and character concerns in Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph.
In fact, when it comes to the position of safety, a legitimate need for the Cowboys for years, Dallas failed to address it until their sixth-round selection of South Carolina’s Israel Mukuamu. He’s the fourth sixth-round safety the Cowboys have drafted since Kavon Frazier in 2015. The other two being Xavier Woods (2016) and Donovan Wilson (2019).
But the team’s biggest misstep may have come in the third round. Remember, this is a round where the Cowboys have found players like wide receiver Michael Gallup, cornerback Jourdan Lewis, offensive guard Connor McGovern, and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.
Owning three third-round selections offered the Cowboys brass a real opportunity to land some very impactful players. And while the jury is out on whether they did so or not, the initial feelings of the results are very underwhelming.
UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa seems to be a carbon copy of the team’s other two young, highly-drafted defensive tackles in Trysten Hill and Gallimore. As for the other 2021 third-rounders, NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein had defensive end Chauncey Golston projected as a sixth-to-seventh round selection and cornerback Nahshon Wright as a possible undrafted free agent.
The most head-scratching and disappointing selection by the Cowboys is the fourth-round addition [correction] of Marshall’s Josh Ball. The massive 6-foot-7, 308-pound offensive tackle had a reported 11 incidents of aggressive behavior including physical harm against a victim cited against him in an alleged case of dating violence that resulted in a suspension from Flordia State. And how he addressed those concerns during an interview on The DallasCowboys.com Draft Show following his selection had some analysts wondering if he truly deserved a second chance.
While the selections of LSU linebacker Jabril Cox and Kentucky defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna on day three of the draft offered some redemption for the Dallas Cowboys’ brass, it’s in a sea of puzzling moves that saw them consistently overreach for players, add prospects onto their roster with serious character and maturity concerns, and not use their vast draft capital to move up to obtain higher-rated players in positions of need.