The Dallas Cowboys need to address glaring issues on their defensive line and the secondary in the 2017 NFL Draft. They need to improve their pass rush while also replacing three starting defensive backs.
Luckily for Dallas, this draft class is deep in quality pass-rushers and defensive backs. The Cowboys can transform their defense from a question mark into a strength if they focus on those two position groups.
Dallas is not going to fix its pass rush by drafting one player. They need to use premium draft picks on multiple pass-rushers in order to solve the problem.
The secondary is a different matter. Despite losing three starters, the Cowboys have some options on their roster. Anthony Brown was solid in 10 starts at cornerback in 2016. He will become the full-time starter in 2017 and will shore up one cornerback spot.
They will be able to find starters for the other corner and safety spots in the draft. This is a pick-by-pick look at who the Cowboys should take in the 2017 NFL Draft.
1st Round: Demarcus Walker 6'4" 280 DE Florida State
Walker was a dominant pass-rusher for the Seminoles in 2016. He registered 16 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss from his defensive end position. Walker is not the prototypical long, lean edge rusher and will likely move inside and play the 3-technique for the Cowboys. He will provide a pass rush up the middle and can move outside on passing downs. Most project Walker to go in the second round but he is too dominant of a defender to pass on. Other possibilities: Tyus Bowser DE Houston, T.J. Watt DE Wisconsin
2nd Round: Trey Hendrickson 6'4" 266 DE Florida Atlantic
Hendrickson is an explosive athlete who ran a 4.65 40 at the combine. He registered 23 sacks during the last two seasons to go along with four blocked kicks in 2016. Like Walker, he has a great motor and earns a lot of his sacks with second and third efforts. Hendrickson was dominant in the East-West Shrine game. He could be the steal of the draft in the second round. Other possibilities: Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson
3rd Round: Jalen "Teez" Tabor 6'0" 199 CB Florida
Tabor is an elite cover corner who saw his stock plummet when he ran 4.6s and 4.7s at the combine and pro days. He has tremendous burst to the ball and is a ball-hawk with nine interceptions in three years. Tabor's 28 career pass breakups speak to his ability in coverage. He has some character issues, but the payoff on the back end is worth the risk. Other possibilities: Josh Reynolds WR Texas A&M
4th Round: Dede Westbrook 6'0" 178 WR Oklahoma
Westbrook has explosive speed and was the number-one big play threat in the nation in 2016. He averaged 19.1 yards on his 80 receptions and scored 17 touchdowns. Westbrook will stretch the field and allow Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to work underneath. Other possibilities: Devonte Fields OLB Louisville
6th Round: Daeshon Hall 6'5" 266 DE Texas A&M
Hall has prototype size and speed for a 4-3 DE in the NFL. He ran a 4.76 40 and posted a 36-inch vertical leap at the combine. Injuries limited his effectiveness during his first two seasons at A&M, but he was solid as a junior and senior posting 27.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Hall disappears at times but his athleticism and high ceiling make him an intriguing prospect late in the draft. Other possibilities: KD Cannon WR Baylor
7th Round: Demetrious Cox 6'1" 198 S Michigan State
Cox started at both corner and safety during his career with the Spartans. He snagged three interceptions while playing cornerback as a junior. Cox the size and speed to be an effective safety in the NFL. Other possibilities: Isaac Rochell DT Notre Dame
7th Round: Damontae Kazee 5'10" 183 CB San Diego State
Kazee had an outstanding collegiate career earning defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West in 2016. He grabbed seven interceptions to go along with eight passes broken up and 75 tackles. Kazee snagged 16 interceptions during his college career. Other possibilities: Brad Kaaya QB Miami