The Dallas Cowboys won’t sneak up on anybody in 2017. Coming off a dominant 13-3 record from last season, the Cowboys are now viewed as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. But Dallas knew they had to retool their defense this offseason in order to take the next step.
Here’s the entire list of the players the Cowboys selected in the 2017 draft:
Round 1, Pick 28 (No. 28 overall)
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: In his brief time as a starter at Michigan, Charlton showed flashes of brilliance, but he still has a lot to learn. However, there are few defensive coordinators in the league that can help mold his development better than Rod Marinelli. Charlton possesses a rare combination of size, length, and athletic traits as a rusher, which is primarily what made him a first-round talent to begin with. But he needs to work on his inconsistent play speed, which could hinder his ability to make splash plays. This pick filled a major need for Dallas and came at a good value.
Round 2, Pick 28 (No. 60)
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado: Awuzie will immediately upgrade the cornerback spot for the Cowboys. He makes good decisions in zone coverage and has phenomenal short-area closing burst, which contributes to his high confidence on an island. Awuzie is also a fierce slot blitzer who is capable of collecting his fair share of sacks. He needs to improve on run support in order to become a complete player. Dallas can count on him without hesitation and he should be an opening-day starter.
Round 3, Pick 28 (No. 92)
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: Lewis has been a very dependable cornerback for the Wolverines in his three years as a starter. Although he is undersized, his vertical skills allow him to leap high in the air and challenge receivers who are larger in stature. Lewis’ awareness on the field and attention to detail is also noteworthy. The biggest knock on him is his off-the-field character concerns, as he was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault for allegedly abusing his girlfriend. Based off of skill alone, this is a solid pickup for Dallas, but the domestic violence issues make things much more complicated.
Round 4, Pick 27 (No. 133)
Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina: Switzer is a slot receiver and will benefit the Cowboys on offense. He is undersized, but makes up for it with solid hands, as he has shown ability to be able to catch passes away from his body, low to the ground, or through contact. His quickness will allow his to pick up a significant amount of yardage after the catch if he is left open. Because of his size, he isn’t a very effective blocker and has a limited catch radius. Switzer isn’t known for being versatile, but he could also be a dangerous punt returner.
Round 6, Pick 7 (No.191)
Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech: Woods has excellent indicts and awareness, which has been on display throughout his college career. He is more than capable of taking the football back to the house if it lands in his hands. Woods has shown good movements and is a versatile player who has found success in blitzing. However, his lack of size – particularly the length of his arms – could be an issue when he is in man coverage. Woods has the talent to eventually wind up in the Cowboys’ starting lineup.
Round 6, Pick 33 (No. 216)
Marquez White, CB, Florida State: White has impressed multiple scouts with his 36-inch vertical jump and is a versatile defender who can be effective in zone or man coverage. White can also play on both the inside and outside. His major drawback is he isn’t a playmaker and his level of conditioning may not be up to par, which will prove to be an initial setback for him in Dallas.
Round 7, Pick 10 (No. 228)
Joey Ivie, DT, Florida: In his one year as a starter with Florida, Ivie has demonstrated adequate strength and versatility. He has good hustle and has quality leadership skills. Despite this, his sack totals were disappointing and his play is inconsistent. Ivie will probably see limited play time this upcoming season if he makes the final cuts.
Round 7, Pick 21, (No. 239)
Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State: For a seventh-rounder, Brown has a very high ceiling. He has soft hands and runs solid routes. Brown is unphased by catching the football in traffic and can be a major red zone threat to opposing defenses. He possesses the athleticism and size to succeed at the professional level as well. On the flip side of the coin, he was drafted in the seventh round because his floor is very low. Sans the game against Oklahoma, he was practically nowhere to be found during the rest of the season and didn’t make many jaw-dropping plays.
Round 7, Pick 28 (No. 246)
Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado: With the 246th pick in the draft, why not? In order to prevent competition for his services in free agency, the Cowboys snagged up Carrell with their final pick in the draft. He is a durable player, which is always a good thing. But what made Carrell successful in college was his pad level, ability to stuff cut blocks, and avoid the trash near his feet. His ability to diagnose the run needs work and it would be in his best interest to polish up his pass rushing skills as well.
Overall Grade: B+
Of the nine players the Cowboys selected in this year’s draft, seven of them were defensive players. The Cowboys hope Charlton will immediately improve their pass rushing unit, which was one of their biggest liabilities in 2016. Awuzie is also expected to make an immediate impact as should start alongside fellow cornerback Nolan Carroll. If Charlton is capable of applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks and Awuzie becomes a lockdown corner, Dallas could make a push for their sixth Lombardi in 2017. It remains to be seen how well those two will do in the NFL, but they have a lot of promise and upside.