The Dallas Cowboys are the needle in the NFL. They dominate the national coverage. But outside a mirage defensive year in 2018, they’ve not been respectable there in a long time. However, they did a good job last year of going best player available, and I expect they do the same in the 2021 NFL Draft as well. So what are the Cowboys picks for the 2021 NFL Draft, and what grades do they get?
Cowboys draft picks in 2021
- 12th Overall Selection (R1-P12, from Philadelphia Eagles): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- 44th Overall Selection (R2-P12): Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
- 75th Overall Selection (R3-P11): Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
- 84th Overall Selection (R3-P20, from Philadelphia): Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa
- 89th Overall Selection (R3-P35): Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State
- 115th Overall Selection (R4-P10): Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
- 138th Overall Selection (R4-P33): Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
- 179th Overall Selection (R5-P25): Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
- 192nd Overall Selection (R6-P8, from Lions): Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
- 227th Overall Selection (R6-P43): Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
- 238th Overall Selection (R7-P10): Matt Farniok, OT/OG, Nebraska
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Who did the Cowboys draft on Day 1?
With the 12th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected linebacker Micah Parsons.
Dallas Cowboys grades for 2021 NFL Draft
Parsons is a freak athlete who came to Penn State as a defensive end recruit before dominating as a linebacker for the Big Ten team.
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
His speed is unbelievable, and he hits like a freight train. He also brings that pass-rushing prowess and has natural burst and bend with some pass rush moves to boot.
His processing ability needs fine-tuning at the NFL level, and his off-field question marks are concerning. Parsons also doesn’t have a ton of experience in coverage, which adds some unknown to his projection. Top that off with linebacker not being a highly valuable position, and it’s tough to fall in love with the pick, even if the potential is unreal.
Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
Kelvin Joseph has first-round caliber play on his résumé. He possesses the movement skills to be a legitimate CB1 in the NFL, but he must become more consistent in his technique to get there. He plays with a fierce attitude, but he also left LSU and didn’t make many friends while at Kentucky either. However, the Cowboys fill a huge need here.
Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
Osa Odighizuwa is an interesting pick for the Cowboys. They seem to be stockpiling three-technique defensive tackles. Although his play warrants the selection, the Cowboys need a big one-technique defensive tackle to defend the run. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cowboys rotate Neville Gallimore, Trystan Hill, and himself.
Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa
You won’t find Chauncey Golston bending the edge and attacking the quarterback, but he possessed incredible length to set the edge and should help as a rotational strongside defensive end. The Cowboys love “position flex,” and his ability to rush on the interior is an added plus. There were other players at positions of need higher on my board, but they do fill a need here.
Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State
The pick of Nahshon Wright is a complete mystery. In the history of the NFL, the success rate of 6-foot-4 cornerbacks is almost completely nonexistent. Couple that with the trend of NFL receivers getting smaller and shiftier as route runners, and you have a pick that makes no sense whatsoever. With Ifeatu Melifonwu, Elijah Molden, and Ambry Thomas going right afterward, this pick feels a bit like a slap in the face to Cowboys fans everywhere.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
After a tough day two, the Cowboys make up for it by drafting the best coverage linebacker (outside of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah). Jabril Cox needs to improve against the run but he brings instant value in sub-packages.
Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
Josh Ball is a former Florida State Seminole that eventually transferred to Marshall before declaring for the NFL. He’s a fantastic talent, but his off-field concerns need to be investigated because his dismissal from Florida State was for a domestic violence allegation.
Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
Simi Fehoko is a fantastic combination of height, weight, and speed. He possesses good body control and the potential to be a starting wide receiver but needs to become more nuanced as a route runner. This is great value for the Cowboys at pick 179.
Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky
Quinton Bohanna is the trash can full of dirt the Cowboys have needed for a long time. He gives nothing in the passing game and will be an early-down player only, but the Cowboys need that type of player.
Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Dan Quinn and the Dallas Cowboys have an obvious infatuation with length. Israel Mukuamu played safety in 2020 and could play either there or at cornerback in the Cowboys Cover 3 scheme. He’s a fluid mover, but he’s not explosive laterally.
Matt Farniok, OT/OG, Nebraska
Matt Farniok is a powerful blocker and two-time team captain at the college level. He’s not the most fleet of foot, but his versatility adds some much-needed depth on the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Dallas Cowboys Overall Grade: C+
The Cowboys drafted 11 players overall, with eight of them attempting to address one of the more underwhelming defenses in the NFL in 2020. Their first two selections have massive potential, but both also come with some character questions. Their next two selections both address the defensive line and are high character and high floor players that could contribute in a rotational role. Jabril Cox and Simi Fehoko are exciting names, but the rest of the draft was a bit uninspiring.
Team needs for Dallas coming into the NFL Draft
The Cowboys will look to add a cornerback with an early pick, but what other needs will they look to address throughout the 2021 NFL Draft?
The Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t have let Byron Jones walk. But because they did, they have a glaring need at cornerback. They need a legitimate cornerback opposite of Trevon Diggs. Diggs is a ball-hawking zone coverage cornerback who has good long speed and a ton of length, and the top cornerbacks in the 2020 class are all long and athletic guys who can operate at a high level in both man and zone coverage.
The Cowboys have absolutely ignored this position for as long as I can remember. They haven’t drafted one before Round 4 since the early 2000s. With Dan Quinn coming into town as the defensive coordinator, that could very well change in the 2021 NFL Draft. They’ve already signed Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal.
Oh, look! Another position the Dallas Cowboys don’t spend a lot of time on. It’s not necessarily the three-technique defensive tackle they’ve ignored, but the big uglies on the absolute interior. There are some decent options there in this draft, but the Cowboys won’t likely look there until pick 75.
This might not be an immediate need for the Cowboys. But with Leighton Vander Esch’s injury history, a fifth-year option looming, and Jaylon Smith’s underwhelming play, the Cowboys could look to draft a high upside piece here as high as the end of Round 1.
This also isn’t an immediate need with Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory on the roster, but the rotation needs some high-end pass rush outside of those two. The Cowboys are in the good (or bad) position to draft the best player available on defense throughout the draft, given their needs at all three levels of the defense.
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