If there is one word to describe the Dallas Cowboys’ 2021 NFL draft class of freshly-minted rookies, the word would be different.
The Cowboys haven’t drafted this defensively since the early 80’s, and those that are used to seeing Jerry Jones draft for spectacle and pop are surely surprised at what Dallas opted to do instead.
The Cowboys showed remarkable restraint this year in not overreaching for potential offense, and walked away with a whole lot of talent for their defense, and some potential future value on offense as well.
So let’s meet this unusual crop of Dallas Cowboys rookies. Welcome, Class of 2021.
Cowboys NFL draft class:
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Remember that bit about the Cowboys showing restraint? This might be their flashiest pick of the draft, but for good reason.
Micah Parsons is undeniably the most talented defensive player in the 2021 rookie class. You don’t usually get this undeniable combination of strength and speed, and his freakish physical gifts bring plenty of transferrable value across multiple positions.
Parsons was an absolute unit for the Penn State, and his new position with the Cowboys is set to keep that trend going.
Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
Kelvin Joseph is his own speed freak, especially in the secondary. His uncanny length and size (6’0, nearly 200 lbs) should not be able to move the way it is, but with a 4.34 4-yard dash to boot, Joseph’s endt-to-end speed is one of the best in this draft.
Joseph also brings a lot of technique and ball skills to the cornerback position. He’ll definitely be competing to start alongside fellow young stud and former SEC rival Trevon Diggs, and if he can rise above his off-the-field issues, Dallas just found another stud in the second round.
Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
On the leaner side of the spectrum of front seven players, Odighizuwa plays with a palpable mean streak and explosion attributed to athletes as light and long as he is (6’2, 280 lbs).
Odighizuwa is a former high school wrestler and three-time state champion in the sport, so you’d best believe in his discipline, conditioning, and refined technique. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in computing power and angle manipulation.
The skills Odighizuwa picked up on the mat translate directly into what will make him a nightmare matchup for offensive lines.
Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa
It looks like Dallas had its eyes on another pass rusher with pterodactyl-like measurements, because the buck didn’t stop with Odighizuwa. Chauncey Golston is even longer (6’5) and lighter (269 lbs) than his West Coast counterpart, and that comes with tantalizing and unique potential.
He doesn’t like to play with a whole lot of bend, and he doesn’t have the pop or quickness yet to be a true edge rusher, but is slippery and savvy enough to be a problem on the interior. He also put solid muscle weight during his time in college, and he has a lot of room to grow physically.
Give him a couple of years to develop as a second-string interior lineman and on special teams, and once his frame fills out, Golston will be another matchup nightmare similar to Odighizuwa.
Nahshon Wright, DB, Oregon State
Nahshon Wright is quite the multi-talented athlete, having been a three-sport star in high school. A stud in the secondary for his entire career, he is Dan Quinn’s dream of what a back or even safety should be (6’4, 183 lbs).
Wright isn’t the shiftiest nor the quickest, and can get burned with double-moves pretty easily, but that might be what the Cowboys need given his length and heady play. As a rookie, Nahshon could find spare minutes in zone coverage, and will have a field day tracking and contesting throws.
He’ll get pushed around a lot, and comes as a bit of an injury risk because of his slight frame, but his heady play and smart reads can possibly cover for that as he grows.
As is, Nahshon simply needs to grow physically. That’s a big ‘if’, so it’s time for him to hit the gym before he gets burned.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
If Micah Parsons gives the Cowboys lightning at the linebacker position, Jabril Cox gives them thunder.
Recruited a little sparsely out of high school due to an ACL injury, Cox has all the versatility in the world (he played quarterback, receiver, linebacker, and DB throughout his high school career).
He looked like a man amongst boys at NDSU, and still managed to be one of the best after transferring to larger LSU.
He might never call plays, but Jabril Cox is an absolute menace for his effort and athleticism. He’ll be a starter for sure in a year or two, and no one will be surprised if he makes the Pro Bowl at some point in his career.
Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
Finally, we have an offensive pick from the Cowboys, and they showed restraint even now. Josh Ball is a mountain of a human being, standing at 6’7 and weighing 308 lbs.
He comes with some off-the-field issues after being suspended (and subsequently transferring) from Florida State for domestic violence, but his potential is undeniable. For his side, Ball is absurdly athletic, quick, and fluid, and plays with an absolute mean streak.
He’ll be a very solid second stringer, and could see some Pro Bowl nods with the physical tools he has.
Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
Take a look at Simi Fehoko’s physical measurements (he’s comparable to Kyle Pitts body-wise), and you’ll see why the Cowboys couldn’t pass on him, despite their already-talented receiving corps.
Fehoko comes from a long line of studs, and has had multiple family members play in college, one of whom made the pro’s as well. His gifts are undeniable, but he lacks a bit of the aggression and fire necessary to compete with the DB’s and corners at the highest level. Still, as is, Fehoko has soft hands, a huge frame, and will be a natural at snagging contested throws.
Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
Dallas continued its streak of adding incredible human specimens with Quinton Bohanna (6’4, 327 lbs). “Big Bo”, as he’s called, comes from a football heritage as well: his uncle, Brian Ingram, was a league lifer for New England and San Diego.
Bohanna has plenty of power, but he’ll be more of a tank than a playmaker on the inside — to that, he’ll need to watch his weight as well. However, his size is sure to scare plenty of linemen, and opposing quarterbacks will have nightmares about him coming after them.
Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Cut and paste Nahshon Wright’s physical positives here. Mukuamu’s draft stock fell much farther than fellow Gamecock Jaycee Horn despite them both sitting out of the 2020 season, but Mukuamu has impressive potential of his own.
Dan Quinn will love Mukuamu’s range and bulk, and he’s athletic enough to have been a top-ranked safety before colleges took advantage of his length and stuck him at corner.
This guy is a potential starter — book it now.
Matt Farniok, G, Nebraska
Farniok is another giant the Cowboys took, and like the last few picks, he comes with a football pedigree. His older brothers played in the Big 12, and his younger brother Will is also at Nebraska.
Farniok will probably never be an athletic freak, but he’s a born leader (two-time team captain at Nebraska), and offers versatility and experience all over the line.