DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys began the rebuilding of their defense in earnest when they selected linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. There was little doubt that the team would focus on defense early and often, so acquiring the best LB prospect in the draft was a solid start.
That shouldn’t be the end of the story for the Cowboys, however. They still have work to do on all three levels to improve on 2020’s historically poor defense.
The needs start at cornerback. The Cowboys missed out on their top two CB targets when Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II went just ahead of them before their pick at No. 10. Throughout the rest of the first round, three more corners were taken off the board.
Thankfully for Dallas, CB was one of the deeper positions in this draft and there is considerable talent available in rounds two and three. The Cowboys should find a prospect to their liking if they are interested in grabbing a corner.
Some of the names to be on the lookout for are Asante Samuel Jr. out of Florida St., Washington’s Elijah Molden, Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph, or Tyson Campbell from Georgia. The height and length of Samuel Jr. and Molden might not be a fit for the Cowboys, but they are highly thought of as Day 2 options so they could be on the radar.
The Cowboys are also perpetually in the need for safeties. The team hasn’t been aggressive in the draft at finding one in recent memory, but that could change this year. There wasn’t a single safety taken in yesterday’s first round, so the Cowboys could find one of the better safeties to enter the draft.
However, safety runs in the draft tend to happen in the second round, so the sweet spot for Dallas could be at pick No. 44. The top three options for the Cowboys should be Trevon Moehrig of TCU, UCF’s Richie Grant, or Jevon Holland out of Oregon. The team has reportedly been looking into Holland, as well as Molden at CB.
Much like at safety, the Cowboys have a continuous need on the interior of the defensive line. Drafting Parsons will help the run defense, but the team would benefit from finding a big bodied defensive tackle to occupy blockers leaving the linebackers to run free.
Defensive tackle, unfortunately, is one of the weaker positions in this draft. Alabama’s Christian Barmore would make a great fit, as would Levi Onwuzurike out of Washington, if Dallas chooses to pick one in the second round.
Daviyon Nixon out of Iowa, Alim McNeil from North Carolina St. and Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai would be solid choices if the team waits until round three to find a big man in the middle.
The Cowboys can surely use a pass rusher, as well. After DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the defense doesn’t have a capable edge player that can scare an offense. The team would be smart to add another defensive end into the mix before Day 2 is complete.
Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari is the best of the remaining group at the position but there are questions about his knee that popped up in medical evaluations, which might explain his fall out of the first round.
If Dallas aims to shore up their pass rush, Ojulari could still be worth the risk of calling his name in the second or third rounds. The Cowboys could also call on Wake Forest standout Carlos Basham Jr. to unite him with his cousin, Tarell Basham, who signed with Dallas this offseason.
Other good options include Joseph Ossai out of Texas and Ronnie Perkins from Oklahoma. Both would be very good additions to the pass rush as a Day 2 selection.
The Cowboys need to continue to strengthen the defense and spending a few of their Day 2 picks on any of these positions would go a long way to bringing the unit back to respectability.
Who would be your ideal Day 2 pick at the NFL Draft for the Cowboys? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.