The Dallas Cowboys don’t have many glaring weaknesses for a team whose offseason was dragged through the mud. That’s a testament to the front office’s exemplary track record in the NFL Draft.
While fans would’ve liked to see Dallas show more urgency in free agency, the sheer homegrown talent on the roster has allowed the Cowboys to jump out to an 8-3 record entering Week 13. The 2022 draft class is a perfect example of this.
While the Cowboys (seemingly) didn’t land any stars, the class is loaded with immediate contributors, including Tyler Smith, Sam Williams, Jake Ferguson, DaRon Bland, and Damone Clark, who’s played more than 40 snaps in three of the last four games after undergoing spinal fusion surgery a month before the draft.
Dallas will be hoping to add a star in the 2023 draft, but that’ll be easier said than done with the team headed for another late pick in Round 1. At that point, the Cowboys should draft for need instead of best player available.
With that in mind, Cowboys fans will love that draft expert Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Dallas taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the No. 27 pick in his initial 2023 mock draft.
The Athletic’s new mock draft has the Cowboys drafting Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon in Round 1.
The secondary has been a strength for Dallas this season. While the safety position is loaded with three legitimate starters, cornerback’s been a different story. Trevon Diggs has continued his ascent at the position, but Anthony Brown’s allowed a 98.3 passer rating and 11.9 yards per catch, according to PFF.
Browns’ 41 receptions allowed are tied for ninth-most at the position, and he’s allowed five touchdowns and missed nine tackles. Playing on an expiring contract, fans expected better from Brown, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the Cowboys will allow him to test the market this offseason.
Beyond that, Jourdan Lewis is coming off a season-ending injury and has one year remaining on his contract, and 2021 third-round pick Nahshon Wright hasn’t logged a defensive snap this season. Finally, polarizing 2021 second-rounder Kelvin Joseph has shown more on special teams than in coverage.
The Cowboys could be extremely thin on corners in 2023, and drafting Witherspoon — the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year — would go a long way towards solidifying the position. Witherspoon was also named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back.
Those honors were fully deserved, as Witherspoon led the country in completion rate when targeted (33.8%) and forced incompletions (16), per PFF. He allowed 40 or fewer passing yards in 11 of 12 games, just a 24.3 passer rating, and finished sixth in the nation with 17 passes defended. You won’t be surprised to hear the Illinois standout didn’t allow a single touchdown in coverage all year.
A No. 2 cornerback is exactly what this Dallas defense is missing. A trio of Diggs, Lewis and Witherspoon — with Bland and Joseph rounding out the depth chart — would give the Cowboys a much-needed rejuvenation at their weakest position.