Here’s How the ‘Experts’ Grade the Dallas Cowboys’ 2021 Draft
Just be prepared. This is a two part article. First, I'm going to show you how the "experts" are grading the Dallas Cowboys 2021 draft. Next, I'm going to show you why you should take any draft grade with a grain of salt. Let's start with the true Draft King, Mel Kiper Jr. He gives the Cowboys a "B" and had this to say:
The Dallas defense was awful last season, even before Dak Prescott was lost for the year in Week 5. This couldn't be another CeeDee Lamb situation, where they went with an offensive playmaker despite having massive holes on the other side of the ball. They had to get the best defender on the board, ideally a cornerback. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, though, the top two corners went in the two picks before them at No. 10, so give them credit for trading back two spots, adding an extra third-rounder and still getting the guy they say they wanted all along.
The questions now are ... where does Micah Parsons (12) fit, and what does it mean for 2018 first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch and 2016 second-rounder Jaylon Smith? I didn't peg off-ball linebacker as a need for Dallas, but the organization didn't draft Parsons to sit on the bench. So maybe it will move on from Vander Esch and plant Parsons at middle linebacker. He'll improve a porous run defense; the Cowboys allowed a woeful 1,758 rushing yards before first contact last season, by far the most in the league. With Rashawn Slater still available, I thought he would have filled a need at guard. They added to the off-ball linebacker group on Day 3 with Jabril Cox (115), who has some coverage traits.
The Cowboys continued their attempt to improve the defense on Day 2 and ended up using all five of their picks on defenders. Cornerback Kelvin Joseph (44) has lock-down traits, and the team will hope that he can make the same sort of impact that second-rounder Trevon Diggs did a year ago. Defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa (75) and Chauncey Golston (84) were lower on my board, but they'll help against the run.
I had a late Day 3 grade on Nahshon Wright (99), but he's a big, 6-foot-3 corner who fits the mold of what new coordinator Dan Quinn likes outside. He's quite confident in his skills, but I didn't see an NFL starter on tape. Israel Mukuamu (227) is another tall corner, as Dallas showed its commitment to finding guys for Quinn. Simi Fehoko (179) has some speed for a 6-foot-4 wideout, though this team's receiver room is crowded.
In total, the Cowboys added eight defenders in this class, though they reached for a couple of them. If Quinn's corner picks work out, they could have a couple of steals.
Over at ProFootballNetwork.com they gave individual grades for each pick, and most of the Cowboys picks didn't grade all that well. Let's take a look at the first round pick, Micah Parsons. They give him a D+, and have this to say:
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.
Of course, this is completely ignoring the fact that many scouts had Micah Parsons as the best defender in the entire draft and the only reason he fell to the Cowboys was he opted out of the 2020 season and had some off-field issues.
There is one draft pick that seems to get a ton of love. Jabril Cox, the linebacker out of LSU that the Cowboys took in the 4th round. BloggingTheBoys.com had this to say about Cox:
Linebacker Jabril Cox transferred from North Dakota State—where he helped the Bison win three national championships and was even named the 2018 MVFC Defensive Player of the Year—and stuffed the stat sheet in SEC play.
Cox finished his only season in the Bayou with 58 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, five pass breakups and four quarterback hits. His real value lies in defending the pass.
“He understood spacing,” NDSU head coach Matt Entz told The Advocate’s Brooks Kubena. “He understood route concepts. He understood field awareness. And some of those are intangibles... He was able to translate that into defensive football for us.”
Cox’s inclusion on the Dallas Cowboys indicates how the team will employ its first-round pick, Micah Parsons. This year’s 12th overall pick will likely serve as a blitzer and pass-rusher, while Cox can be utilized in sub-packages as a coverage linebacker.
So how should you feel if you're a Cowboys fan? Come back in a few years because that's when we'll know how this draft went. I get the people love looking at draft grades. I know I do. But don't take it as gospel. It'll only drive you nuts. Be on the lookout tomorrow for an article I'm putting together about why you can't take draft grades seriously.