(CBS Dallas)- The 2019 NFL Draft gets underway next Thursday night, April 25th, in Nasvhille, Tennessee with the first round. However, Cowboys fans will have a bit longer of a wait than most as, unless the team trades up, the Cowboys won’t have a pick until the second round following the Amari Cooper trade. That said, they do still have six picks to use on the weekend prior to any trades going down.
With that in mind, let’s do a quick reset following free agency and the offseason to this point to see what needs the team still has to address next weekend.
Interior Defensive Line
The depth of the team’s front on defense took a hit when David Irving was suspended indefinitely by the league and then promptly retired. The ‘Boys did add defensive line depth when they signed former Texans defensive tackle Christian Covington to a one-year deal, but overall they could still use some more help on the interior. The good news is that this draft is chock full of defensive line talent. While they won’t have a shot at one of the first round talents (barring some meteoric tumble down draft boards), there will still be quality players available when their first pick comes around at number 58 in the second round.
Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones, Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery, Miami (FL)’s Gerald Willis III and Western Illinois’ Khalen Saunders are all ranging between 2nd and 4th round picks. Any of those guys would add another big presence to the inside of a defensive front that held opponents to the 5th fewest rush yards in the league over the course of last season.
Free agent signing George Iloka was brought in during free agency on a one-year deal, but he started just three of 16 games for the Vikings last season and is more likely a fall back veteran option on the back end. Xavier Woods turned into a solid contributor at the free safety spot for the team last year, so they really just need another young player to fill in alongside him.
Once again, like the interior of the defensive line, the safety spot is one that has a solid amount of depth in this year’s draft. There aren’t many expected to go in the first round, but several could come off the board in Round 2. Depending on which need you feel is more important, you could talk yourself into going either way with the team’s first pick. Delaware’s Nassir Adderley, Washington’s Taylor Rapp, Florida’s Chauncey Gardner Johnson, Mississippi State’s Jonathan Abram, Virginia’s Juan Thornhill and Alabama’s Deionte Thompson are all potential targets in Round 2.
But, there are also later options like Miami (FL)’s Jaquan Johnson, USC’s Marvin Tell III, and Boston College’s Lukas Denis.
Dak Prescott’s safety blanket, Cole Beasley, departed for Buffalo in free agency leaving the team with just one proven receiving threat in Amari Cooper. The Cowboys will be hoping for more from last year’s 3rd round pick, Michael Gallup, but even if he emerges, there is still a hole left in the arsenal by Beasley’s departure. That void can’t 100 percent be filled by recently unretired 37-year-old tight end Jason Witten.
So, with one of there Day 2 or 3 picks, it’s conceivable that we could once again see the team take a pass-catching target for Prescott. The wide receiver class doesn’t have a ton in the way of top-end talent, but there are some solid options in the middle rounds.
UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella (5’9″ 188) has a similar build to Beasley and even better speed (4.31 40, 4.15 shuttle) to be a factor for Prescott. Buffalo’s Anthony Johnson (6’2″ 209) is a bit of a bigger target but he worked all over the field in college and posted an 18.2 yards per catch average this past season. Other potential mid-round targets include Missouri’s Emmanuel Hall, Georgia’s Mecole Hardiman, and Auburn’s Darrius Slayton.
Finally, if last season proved anything, it’s that the Cowboys can’t rely solely on their starting group to remain healthy in front of Prescott. If they can, they probably should add another lineman in the draft to develop behind the starters in case of injuries like the ones they had last year. But, that goes for most of the 32 teams in the league.