Shoutout to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: the temptation was there, and still he and the Cowboys decided to be smart this offseason and address some actual team needs.
Even with Dak Prescott on the field, the Cowboys were arguably the worst defensive team in the NFL. For the 2021 NFL Draft, they were best served focusing either on adding depth and grit to the defense and shoring up their battered and old offensive line.
Luckily for their fans, Dallas did both. Spoiler alert: this draft grade is going to be high, for sheer and unexpected discipline from America’s Team.
No 12 Overall: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – A
The only reason that this pick isn’t graded higher is because the Cowboys really needed a corner.
But by not only grabbing the best defensive player in the draft but also successfully trading down for him is a victory all on its own. Sure, Micah Parsons might have some off-field issues, but he is the flashiest pick in this draft outside of Kyle Pitts and the quarterbacks, which is sure to satisfy Jerry Jones and still solve a need for Dallas.
Penn State LB Micah Parsons ran a blazing 4.39 40 yard dash at his pro day. Sheesh.pic.twitter.com/FmkEPLlSuT
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) March 25, 2021
“Solve” is a bit of a soft word, too. The fact that Parsons is the highest-rated defensive prospect in his class despite opting out of the 2020 season speaks volumes to his absurd physical gifts and talents. Great maneuvering and pickup here for Dallas.
No. 44 Overall: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky – A
Kelvin Joseph could have been taken in the 30s, so Dallas continued to find plenty of value farther back in the draft order. At 6’0 and nearly 200 lbs, Joseph sports blazing speed (4.34 40-yard dash) and has tantalizing upside.
Similar to Parsons, Joseph has a limited rap sheet of experience (15 total games played in college), and some off-field issues of his own (he was suspended for a bowl game at LSU), but his talent and ball skills at such a crucial position were too good to pass up this late.
No. 75 Overall: Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA – B-
The Cowboys showed remarkable restraint in the draft for a team that’s so in love with skill players.
It will be a few more picks on this list before help on the offensive line arrives, so that might ding this selection a bit. Similarly, if the Cowboys were going to go for improving their front seven, a nose tackle would have been preferred here over the pass rush specialist that is Odighizuwa.
Finally, Odighizuwa isn’t the biggest tackle at well under 300 lbs, but he has great technique, athleticism and upside, and he could be the cure to Dallas’ god-awful pass rush.
No. 84 Overall: Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa – B+
A bit of a project and reach this early in the draft, Chauncey Golston is as raw as they come.
His technique isn’t the best, and he doesn’t have the fastest straight-line speed (4.8s 40-yard dash). However, he’s a versatile, strong and explosive edge rusher. Golston’s selection here over Elijah Molden and Ronnie Perkins is a bit of a gamble, but his physical gifts are undeniable.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) May 3, 2021
With a crowded pass rush, Dallas will have time to develop him.
No. 99 Overall: Nahshon Wright, DB, Oregon State – B
Nahshon Wright might be the biggest “if” of the Cowboys’ draft.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has his fingerprints all over this pick, and he is most likely betting that the lanky and towering back (6’4, 183 lbs) can one day turn into Dallas’ Richard Sherman.
If his skills and musculature can catch up to his length, Wright could be the steal of this draft defensively. If he can’t put on more muscle and gets outmaneuvered or pushed around, he’ll just be another stiff.
High-risk, high-reward territory. Kudos to the Cowboys for swinging for the fences on this one, even if it doesn’t pan out.
No. 115 Overall: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU – A+
Losing the chance to draft Jabril Cox was one of the risks that the Cowboys took when they snagged Wright in Round 3. Getting him here earned them a higher grade for Wright, and that’s how good Cox is.
He is ginormous (6’3, 233 lbs), fast (4.52 40-yard dash), and extremely intelligent. He doesn’t present the raw upside and power of Micah Parsons, but there’s a reason why LSU took him and made him a captain.
Cox will be a starter within three years at the very most. Awesome pickup here.
No. 138 Overall: Josh Ball, OT, Marshall – B-
Something about this draft has the Cowboys in love with players with off-field issues. Josh Ball continues that trend, and the domestic violence accusations against him are probably what caused him to drop this far in the first place.
However, one look at his sheer size should tell you all you need to know about his upside: 6’8, 308lbs. Ball is a modern day titan, with the rare combination of length and power.
This pick is another gamble, but if he lives up to the expectations of his size and power while managing to behave off the field, Ball might prove to be another steal. That said, those issues do plague this pick a little bit.
No. 179 Overall: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford – C+
Simi Fehoko is another giant at his position, standing at 6’4 and 227 lbs. He actually profiles with a lot of tight end-level size, while running a 4.37 40-yard dash. If those numbers sound familiar, Kyle Pitts reads similarly physically.
But Ball could have fallen here given his issues, and the Cowboys could have taken another defender or doubled up on the offensive line.
Fehoko’s talent and upside save this pick, but Dallas can’t seem to stay away from wide receivers.
No. 192 Overall: Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky – A
Quinton Bohanna- with a quick first step able to get to the back field immediately and stop the run pic.twitter.com/nDokJK7uKa
— 𝙸𝚀📚 (@AytonXDono) May 2, 2021
There’s that run stopper that Dallas wanted!
Teammates with Kelvin Joseph at Kentucky, the two will form a great 1-2 punch if they develop properly. Quinton Bohanna might not be a long-term feature answer for the front seven, but at 327 lbs, he brings plenty of size and power.
Starting all four years at an SEC school is no joke, and neither is Bohanna. Back on track with this pick.
No. 227 Overall: Israel Mukuamu, DB, South Carolina – A-
Jaycee Horn’s partner at South Carolina, Israel Mukuammu cuts the same profile as Dan Quinn favorites Nahshon Wright and Richard Sherman, with a little more weight too (6’4, 214 lbs).
Given his athleticism, Mukuamu is bound to see both minutes in the corner and at safety, which he had plenty of experience with in college.
This gamble is a lot better for Quinn than the one he took with Wright: a late pick spent on absurd physical tools is never a bad bet.
No. 238 Overall: Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska – B
In a vacuum, Matt Farniok is the epitome of “fine.”
He definitely won’t start his first year with the team, and it is likely going to be limited to the practice squad due to his sole proficiency in run-blocking. However, he has a good head on his shoulders (he was a two-time captain at Nebraska) and offers a lot of flexibility on the line (started games both inside and outside).
Farniok is a boring last pick, but for once, boring might be good for such a flash-heavy team.