The Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team” for a lot of reasons. However, they remain America’s Team because they’re the most valuable sports franchise in the entire world. They aren’t the most talented team. They aren’t the most efficiently run, either. Heck, they haven’t played in a conference championship game since Michael Jordan was finishing his own run of championships. I was three years old the last time the Cowboys had any maintained success. Yet, on every major national sports talk show, if they can shoehorn some Cowboys content into the conversation, they’ll jump through fiery hoops to do just that. So when there’s Dallas Cowboys news or rumors on the NFL Draft, we stop what we’re doing, and we listen (or read).
Be sure to join PFN Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline every week on Draft Insiders as they break down all you need to know heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Subscribe to our PFN YouTube channel and hit the notifications icon so you can tune in live every Wednesday at 9 PM ET.
Dallas Cowboys eyeing offensive tackle at 10?
There has been a lot of conversation surrounding the Cowboys’ 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. From the start of the draft discussions, it’s been all about two positions for Dallas. The Cowboys desperately need a cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs, and because of the long-term health concerns of Tyron Smith, an offensive tackle. That offensive tackle would preferably have position flex to potentially start at left guard until Smith moves on to retirement.
On the April 14 episode of Draft Insiders, Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline intimated that if Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell fell to No. 10 overall, the rumors are that would be too good to pass up for the Dallas Cowboys. If he is not there, the belief is they’ll draft one of either Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn.
“Right now it looks like if Penei Sewell falls, that is the player they are going to select. Otherwise, it’s expected to be one of the cornerbacks, Patrick Surtain or Jaycee Horn.”
Penei Sewell could be a steal
Sewell has been one of the hottest names in the 2021 NFL Draft class since his true freshman season at Oregon, protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside. The 17-year-old dominated Pac-12 competition as a freshman. Then, as an 18-year-old playing his first game of the 2019 season, he faced eventual second-round pick Marlon Davidson, whom he dominated.
Sewell sits at No. 3 on Pauline’s big board, and at such a valuable position as a left tackle, that should be a no-brainer for the Cowboys, who have a little experience drafting incredibly young and athletic left tackles.
The cornerbacks fit a bigger need
The Cowboys must address the cornerback position at an early point in the 2021 NFL Draft. Unless a can’t-miss talent falls to them at No. 10, their goal should be to target one of Surtain II or Horn.
PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo highlighted why the Cowboys’ biggest focus should be on defense.
“You are talking about a defense that set a record last year with six straight games allowing 20 or more points in the first half.”
Surtain is the sixth overall prospect on Pauline’s big board, whereas Horn sits at 10th overall. Both are outstanding prospects who would immediately become the alpha dog of the secondary from a talent perspective. It all comes down to who the Cowboys prefer for their Cover 3 coverage scheme.
Cowboys could target a trade down
There is a large contingency of Cowboys Twitter that yearns for the trade back. The creation of the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Machine offering free user and computer-generated trades meant a never-ending cycle of opportunities for these trade-down junkies. But is a move down actually feasible for the Dallas Cowboys? Pauline believes so.
“I am also told that the Dallas Cowboys will look hard at trading down. I’m told right now the most realistic trade, and one people think could happen, is the Cowboys swapping selections with the Chicago Bears at 20.”
Dallas could do a lot with a trade down. Their needs at cornerback and tackle could both be filled by players around that value. However, moving back to No. 20 overall in the draft brings potential value at other positions of need for the Dallas Cowboys. Pauline added that the team is not necessarily shopping the pick. A lot will depend on whether or not Sewell is available and the offers they are receiving.
The Zaven Collins whispers are getting louder
The Dallas Cowboys rumors have been that they love Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins. That love doesn’t just come from the coaching staff, either. The Joneses reportedly love the player as well. With his ability to rush the passer and his frame resembling an edge rusher even more than an off-ball linebacker, he could be used as a SAM linebacker in Year 1 and could eventually progress to the MIKE.
“I am told there is a lot of love for Zaven Collins from the Jones family who watched this guy play.” Pauline added. “They feel like if they can get Leighton Vander Esch healthy, these two guys wandering around the field would be like a demolition crew.”
But that’s not all Collins brings. He also has elite ball production for the position and for his size tested as a good athlete with elite explosion. He is smart and instinctive in coverage, which leads to him breaking up or intercepting passes in spot drop coverages. The Cowboys desperately need a linebacker to make plays in coverage.
Who else could they target in a trade down?
The need at offensive tackle is another one that could provide outstanding value at pick 20. That is especially true if Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw is still on the board at that time. The list of positives in Pauline’s scouting report of Darrisaw read like a high-level tackle prospect with even more upside.
“Athletic, explosive offensive tackle who stands out in pass protection and blocking for the run. Sets with a wide base, works to bend his knees, and stays square. Patient in pass protection, keeps his feet moving, and makes exceptional use of angles. Correctly places his hands into defenders and easily rides them from their angles of attack.
“Explosive at the point, knocks back defenders with violent hand punch and drives opponents from the line run blocking. Quick out to the second level and shows ability blocking in motion. Bends his knees and plays with proper pad level.”
Darrisaw didn’t formally test for a laundry list of valid reasons, including a positive COVID-19 test. However, the expectation was for him to test incredibly well, especially given his dense frame. It would be interesting to see whether the Cowboys consider him playing on the interior to start his career until Tyron Smith retires.
For reference, Darrisaw is Pauline’s 13th overall player on his big board. So again, as with the possibility of a Sewell selection with the 10th pick, grabbing Darrisaw at No. 20 overall would be an outstanding value.
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