FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Cowboys addressed one of their biggest needs in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night, taking former Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs with the 51st overall selection.
The Cowboys had pivoted away from defense in the first round when former Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb was unexpectedly available with the 17th overall pick. They turned their attention back to defense as the draft resumed.
Dallas lost its best cornerback in Byron Jones, who signed with Miami in free agency.
Diggs, the younger brother of Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, had three interceptions and tied for Alabama’s team lead with eight pass breakups.
The younger Diggs went 95 picks earlier than his brother five years ago. Stefon Diggs was drafted by Minnesota in the fifth round but ended up getting traded to the Bills for several picks, including a first-rounder this year.
“I relied on him a lot because he went through everything,” Trevon Diggs said. “He’s my father figure, so it’s a blessing to have him, to ask him questions. I’m going to share this moment with him.”
The Cowboys tied for last in the NFL in interceptions last year and have been among the worst in the league in that category the past five seasons. They have young cornerbacks they like in Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, but the position was still one of need.
Dallas also entered the night with the 81st overall pick in the third round, and still could use a pass rusher. The Cowboys passed on former LSU defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson in the first round because Lamb was available. Chaisson went to Jacksonville three picks later.
Safety is another area the Cowboys could address, and might have in the second round if not for a run on the position that included four safeties drafted in a span of 10 picks before Dallas’ selection.
Diggs will have a good chance to start, most likely alongside Awuzie, a second-round pick three years ago. Brown and Lewis have shown promise, and the Cowboys signed four-year veteran Maurice Canady in free agency. Among those players, Brown is the oldest at 26.
The Cowboys also hope to boost a pass rush led by DeMarcus Lawrence with the reinstatement of suspended defensive ends Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory. Both are sidelined by violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Smith, who hasn’t played since 2015, signed a one-year deal. Gregory was a second-round pick in 2015 and has been suspended four times, the most recent one forcing him to miss all of last season.
The Cowboys hired an offensive mind in Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett, whose contract wasn’t renewed after a season of high expectations ended with an 8-8 record and no trip to the playoffs.
Then Dallas gave McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers and developed several star receivers in Green Bay, another weapon in Lamb. The breakaway threat joins Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper, who signed a $100 million contract last month.
The Cowboys also have two perennial Pro Bowlers in the offensive line in left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin, so the question now is now a retooled defense can complement what is shaping up to be a high-powered offense.
With their third pick, the Cowboy selected defensive tackle Neville Gallimore of Oklahoma.
The 6-foot-2, 304-pound Gallimore had four sacks and 7 1/2 tackles for loss for the Sooners, who lost to LSU in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season. The Cowboys now have two natives of Canada on their defensive line. Tyrone Crawford was a third-round pick eight years ago.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)