Latest draft buzz foreshadows Cowboys potentially repeating Jaylon Smith mistake

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The Dallas Cowboys seem content on doing the bare minimum in free agency to upgrade the roster, so most fans have shifted their focus to the 2024 NFL Draft. Given how many holes are on the roster, this is shaping up to be the Cowboys most important draft in recent memory.

Since the 2023 draft class was an abject disaster in year one, Dallas has put a ton of pressure on itself to hit a home run this year. Regardless of the order, they need to come away with an offensive tackle (presumably in round one), running back, defensive tackle and linebacker.

As far as the running back position is concerned, the Cowboys lack of spending in free agency suggests whomever they draft will handle a huge workload as a rookie. As of this writing, Dallas has only re-signed Rico Dowdle after losing Tony Pollard.

At Texas' pro day this week, we learned that star running back Jonathon Brooks has a top-30 prospect visit with the Cowboys. That doesn't confirm Dallas will draft Brooks, but the buzz has ramped up in recent days and figures to only grow louder as the draft draws closer.

Cowboys drafting Texas RB Jonathon Brooks would be a risky move

While Brooks is arguably the best RB prospect in the 2024 class we can't help but wonder if the Cowboys would be making mistake by drafting the former Longhorn. If you haven't heard, Brooks suffered a torn ACL near the end of the 2023 regular season.

A torn ACL obviously doesn't mean Brooks won't pan out in the NFL. We saw Jets running back Breece Hall, a second-round pick in 2022, tear his ACL near the end of his rookie year and bounce back to the tune of accumulating nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns this season.

However, the prospect of drafting an already-rehabbing RB is frightening, especially when you consider Brooks might be Dallas' lead running back. Even Rico Dowdle's most ardent supporters would concede he's not RB1 material. At best, Dowdle is a mid-tier backup and an excellent third option.

What's also notable is that Brooks' surgery was performed by the Cowboys team doctor. All interested teams will obviously have intel on Brooks' rehab, but Dallas undoubtedly has the inside track here.

Again, Brooks' injury could prove to be a blip on the radar of a successful pro career. However, Cowboys fans will be quick to remember the team spending a second-round pick on Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who tore up his knee in the Fiesta Bowl just three months before the draft.

Smith suffered a torn ACL and LCL and experienced nerve damage in the knee. While Smith gave Dallas an excellent season in 2018, he suffered a sharp decline after signing a five-year, $64 million extension before the 2019 season. Smith's fall from grace has been attributed to his devastating knee injury.

The contract was a disaster waiting to happen. That's not Smith's fault. And Brooks' injury isn't considered nearly as serious as Smith's. We would just hate to see another draft gamble blow up in Dallas' face because they thought they got great value in an injured prospect.

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