Which Cowboys benefited – and who was warned – of the NFL Draft? – ESPN – Dallas Cowboys Blog

Todd ArcherESPN WriterMay 6, 2023, 6:00 a.m. ET5 minute read

The Cowboys’ offseason moves have put pressure on 2021 second-round cornerback Kelvin Joseph.Isaiah J. Downing – USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas — The NFL Draft is over and the Dallas Cowboys are feeling good about their additions. If they didn’t, then something was seriously wrong.

These choices have created internal winners and losers.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell named Tony Pollard the ‘winner’ of the draft because the Cowboys didn’t select a running back until the sixth round in Deuce Vaughn, believing it could lead to a multi-year deal with the franchise player before the July 17 deadline.

Pollard wasn’t the only winner for the Cowboys, and a few players drafted in recent seasons could be called “losers” due to the way the Cowboys approached the draft, especially considering the rule of three years of legendary Dallas coach Tom Landry – a player who needs to show he can contribute after his third season – is no longer really in fashion.

“You really have to think faster about these players, and the development time is different than it was before,” said Will McClay, vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys. “They don’t have two days a day [practice], they come from college football which is played differently from the NFL. … So they have to have this period of indoctrination, but this period better come quickly and it is better to be in a hurry because we need young people to play because it is the only way to have a team of 53 players and survive.

One member of the Class of 2020 (defensive tackle Neville Gallimore) and three of the Class of 2021 (corners Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright and defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna) have been warned by what the Cowboys have been up to this offseason .

“What he says about these guys is, ‘Hey, the NFL is Darwinism. It’s a world of dog-eating dogs. The strong survive,” McClay said. “So what does that mean to these guys, there’s someone coming to take your job. It’s your job and the opportunity to do it.

Joseph is one of the best on the Cowboys’ special teams, but that’s not enough as a former second-round pick, who didn’t capitalize on his opportunities at cornerback. In Week 15, he allowed two touchdowns in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and was benched in favor of Wright. After playing 37 defensive snaps in this game, he’s only played two in the last three contests. He is, at best, CB5 if not CB6 behind Wright.

The Cowboys traded for Stephon Gilmore to add to a core of Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland, Jourdan Lewis, who just suffered a serious foot injury, and they gave up a 2024 fifth-round pick to move up and take Eric Scott Jr. the sixth round.

Wright also struggled with his opportunities, especially with penalties. At the end of last season, the Cowboys opted for waiver wire pickup Trayvon Mullen, since released, and Israel Mukuamu, a safety, for meaningful snaps.

Gallimore has had a tough time in the defensive line rotation in 2022. He was inactive for the playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bohanna was inactive for both playoff games and two other regular season games, while missing two more due to injury.

The addition of Mazi Smith and the re-signing of Johnathan Hankins makes Bohanna the third nose tackle at the moment. Gallimore, entering the final year of his contract, saw the Cowboys draft Viliami Fehoko in the fourth round – and several in the organization say defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is a big fan of the rookie from San Jose State .

While the draft might be good news for Pollard, it was also good for teammate Ronald Jones, who the Cowboys signed as a free agent after spending last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Although owner and general manager Jerry Jones has not closed the door on a potential return of Ezekiel Elliott, it is considered unlikely. When the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2020, Jones was their primary rusher.

“He’s an NFL quality guard,” McClay said. “His racing style matches what we do. He is young enough to continue to grow and bring us something. And, again, we’re adding an experienced fullback who knows what it’s like in the NFL, who fits the system well, and he has advantages in being able to be a three-way back and some of those things.

Before the draft, the Cowboys had The Star visit some of the best wide receivers (Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Jalin Hyatt and Jonathan Mingo), but they only took on Jalen Brooks in the seventh round. Good for Jalen Tolbert, last year’s third-round pick, and Simi Fehoko, a fifth-round pick in 2021.

Tolbert caught just two passes for 12 yards in eight games as a rookie. He needs to make the “second-year leap,” coach Mike McCarthy often talks about, as the Cowboys seek their fourth receiver behind CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks. Fehoko caught three passes for 24 yards before ending his season due to shoulder surgery.

Tolbert and Fehoko have been regulars on quarterback Dak Prescott’s pitch for pitching sessions this offseason.

“If there’s an opportunity to do something in free agency, I’m sure we’ll look into it, but we feel good about the group because they’re here,” McClay said. “They have been in the system. They’re learning… We need to step up that curve, but we’re happy with the depth we have there.

Before selecting Smith at No. 26, the Cowboys debated taking Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron. Had he been the pick, he could have been listed as a Day 1 starter at left guard. The Cowboys didn’t add an offensive lineman (Asim Richards) until the fifth round, so it was good news for free agent pick-up Chuma Edoga, Aviante Collins, Matt Farniok and Josh Ball, who could compete for the place.

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