Cowboys draft needs almost reads like generic listing of football positions

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Tony Thompson
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Teams that pick in the top 10 of the NFL draft are usually pretty needy, and while the Dallas Cowboys are a flawed football team, they’re in better position than most to have a quick turnaround thanks to a certain quarterback.

With mere hours to go until first round of selections kick off in primetime, it’s time to evaluate needs that could be addressed this weekend. Spoiler alert: it’s the entire defense.

Safety

The safety position has been on the draft needs list seemingly forever, so anyone hoping the Cowboys will spend significant draft resources to finally get a long term solution in place shouldn't hold their breath. The last great safety to step foot on the field was named Darren Woodson, and he retired in 2003. It's true, after losing three-year starter Xavier Woods Dallas brought in two players with experience at that position from defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's previous stop with the Atlanta Falcons. But both Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal are on one year deals with the latter expected to play mostly at the Will linebacker spot.

Defensive Tackle

The Dallas front office doesn't believe in shelling out money in free agency for a big boy up front to help keep their linebackers clean. But to say they've completely ignored the position would be incorrect. In the past two drafts, they've invested two top-100 picks at this spot in Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill. Problem is, neither of them can be counted on to become to be a major factor in 2021. Gallimore is raw like sushi and Hill is coming off a season-ending ACL injury. Antwaun Woods is likely the best player inside for the Cowboys which means that this position might be the weakest on the entire team.

Cornerback

If the season started tomorrow the Cowboys defense would be rolling with the combination of Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis. Quinn might be able to coax average play from that unit, but they lack a top end talent, which is why Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn have been continually mocked at pick No. 10. This isn't the team's biggest need, however the confluence of need and draft slot could easily lead to picking either of the two cornerbacks Thursday night. If not, it's a position that has to be addressed on Day 2.

Defensive End

DeMarcus Lawrence is quite excellent, but the only other high end pass rusher on the roster is Randy Gregory whose contract is only good through 2021. With that in mind it wouldn't be shocking to see the Cowboys select an edge with a premium pick in order to prepare for the future at one of the most important positions in the game.

Linebacker

Too many resources have been poured into the linebacker spot for it to have performed so poorly in 2020. There's been bad injury luck and bad coaching but at the end of the day the play from Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch has not been what it was in 2018. The Cowboys didn't cut Smith before the draft, guaranteeing his salary for this season, but the fifth-year option is looming on Vander Esch. It's unlikely, though not impossible, that a top 100 pick is spent at this spot with Neal in the fold as well, but it can't be ruled out given what this position may look like in 2022.

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