After posting one of the worst defensive seasons in franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys spent eight picks of the 2021 NFL Draft on defense hoping for a change of fortunes. While not the most flashy of recent Dallas drafts, the Cowboys got better across the board and added some nice offensive pieces as well.
Thursday night didn’t start the Cowboys way as projected pick Alabama corner Patrick Surtain II was taken a pick earlier ninth overall by the Denver Broncos. As a result, Jerry Jones traded back two spots with rival Philidelphia Eagles picking up a third-round pick. At 12th overall, the Cowboys took Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons who is expected to replace the recently retired Sean Lee’s spot. Despite opting out of the 2021 season, Parsons is an athletic freak running a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and can rush the passer and drop into coverage.
Friday Dallas wasted no time addressing another need taking Kentucky corner Kelvin Joesph a former LSU transfer. At 6’1 he posses the size team’s coveted at the position and notched four interceptions with a pick-six last season. Joining him is the last pick of day two 6’4 Oregon State’s Nahshon Wright who was considered a reach by some. Regardless of that fact he registered five interceptions over the past two seasons and has tremendous length to affect passes. Fellow third-rounders defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa from UCLA and Chauncey Golston a defensive end from Iowa provided reinforcements at positions of need.
Aside from star end Demarcus Lawrence the defensive front struggled all season. On top of that mainstay, Tyrone Crawford retired and end Aldon Smith left for Seattle. Odighizuwa is a little undersized for the interior at 280-pounds, but he notched 27.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in four seasons and is stout in both the run and pass game. Golston posted similar numbers during his four-year career registering 27 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.
Saturday started with the selection of LSU linebacker Jabril Cox a former North Dakota State standout. In his lone season, the 6’4 231-pounder notched 58 tackles, 6.5 for loss, three interceptions, and a sack flying all around the field for the defending champions. He should factor in the rotation and have an impact on special teams. Marshall offensive tackle Josh Ball was the first offensive player taken has the potential to grow into a starting tackle. With mainstay Tyron Smith not getting any younger, the hope is Ball can grow into either his replacement or take over for La’el Collins if he slides over.
Stanford receiver Simi Fehoko is a big 6’4 227-pounder who set the single-game school record with 14 catches. Over the past two seasons, he hauled in 61 passes for 1,140 yards and nine scores at 19.5 yards per catch. He will be best utilized in the red zone giving quarterback Dak Prescott another big target to look for. Dallas spent their two sixth-rounders on a pair of SEC defenders in Kentucky tackle Quinton Bohanna and South Carolina corner Israel Mukuamu. Bohanna at 357-pounds is a load to move and stout against the run something Dallas had a hard time stopping. While his stats don’t jump at you he keeps his linebackers clean and takes up space.
Mukuamu could be one of the steals of this year’s draft. As a junior the 6’4 205-pounder had a 59 tackle, four-interception season projecting as an early pick. However, he had a rough season playing in just five games and registering 10 tackles but still managed two interceptions before opting out after the firing of his head coach. Like Wright, he brings great size and length with great ball skills and should push for early playing time. The final pick, guard Matt Farniok is a flexible, dependable lineman who can play all three positions. Given the struggles of the Cowboys’ backup linemen, he should have no problem not only making the roster but the two-deep.