The NFL offseason is getting underway and the Dallas Cowboys are currently preparing for free agency and the NFL Combine. Even with many things to take care of between now and then, the speculation has already begun on where the teams might go with their 2020 NFL Draft classes.
For the Cowboys, it will be uncharted territory for a team under new head coach Mike McCarthy. Dallas has had a lot of coaching continuity over the last several years which means new voices will be heard for the first time in a while.
While the Jones family will still have the final say, there could be some changes to the draft philosophy. Vice president of player personnel Will McClay and the scouting team will have Jones’ ear, but a bevy of new coaches will be bringing fresh opinions to the draft war room.
Over the last two drafts in his final seasons in Green Bay, McCarthy’s old squad made a conscious effort to improve their secondary. In the 2017 and 2018 drafts, the team chose two defensive backs with each of their first two picks. Three cornerbacks (Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, and Kevin King) and one safety (Josh Jones) were taken by the Packers. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to the 2011 NFL Draft to find McCarthy and the Packers grabbing an offensive player with their first pick (Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State).
Dallas has spread the wealth around more to both sides of the ball but the key difference in drafting philosophy here would be the fact that McCarthy’s Packers used a top 62 pick on a safety in three different drafts since 2014.
The Cowboys, on the opposite side of the spectrum, have used a top 62 pick on safety just once since they selected Roy Williams of Oklahoma with the eighth pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. The blatant dismissal of the importance of safety and the lack of talent invested into the position is a noticeable reason for why the Cowboys have struggled in coverage at times.
Based on the recent trends for the Packers’ drafts while McCarthy was at the helm, it could reasonably be believed that the Cowboys are likely to take a cornerback with their first pick at No. 17 overall and follow that up with a safety with the 51st overall pick in the second round.
Of course, there will always be other options. Wide receiver is another position that has been addressed time and time again by a McCarthy coached team. Ty Montgomery (2015), Davante Adams (2014), Randall Cobb (2011), Jordy Nelson (2008), James Jones (2007) and Greg Jennings (2006) were all top 100 selections in the NFL Draft during his Green Bay tenure.
With the uncertainty surrounding Amari Cooper and Cobb’s contract status with the Cowboys, receiver could be a trend that makes sense to follow McCarthy to Dallas. Cooper is likely to return, but Cobb’s situation is more up in the air despite his old coach joining his new team. If Cobb leaves, the Cowboys would be lacking depth beyond Cooper and Michael Gallup, meaning McCarthy’s history of eyeing wideout talent could come to fruition in Dallas.
Perhaps the most enticing Green Bay draft trend for Cowboy fans to get excited about is that McCarthy and his coaches like having a big boy in the middle of the defense. The Packers twice used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle in recent years with B.J. Raji (2009) and Kenny Clark (2016) suiting up for McCarthy.
The Cowboys are in need of a disruptive force in the center of the defensive line and, at least with McCarthy, he doesn’t ignore the middle of his defense. It remains to be seen whether or not the Cowboys’ brass will ignore McCarthy’s draft-day suggestions, but the trends will be something to keep in mind come April.
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