The days are counting down until the 2022 NFL draft, and the Dallas Cowboys are going to need to make the most of it.
The team has added players like wide receiver James Washington and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., but the departures of starters like offensive tackle La’el Collins, defensive end Randy Gregory, safety Keanu Neal and receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. means that there is still work to do and places to improve the roster.
The Athletic’s Cowboys insider Jon Machota is expecting owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to be aggressive. Machota predicts that Dallas will trade up in the first or second round of the 2022 NFL draft, and mentions that Dallas has not traded up in the draft since 2012 when the team took LSU star corner Morris Claiborne.
Trading up for the Los Angeles Rams’ No. 6 overall pick in that year’s draft didn’t really pay off considering Claiborne’s mediocre performances, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be worth it this year.
“When Jerry Jones talks about wanting to find another Micah Parsons, does that sound like a player who will be added by moving back?” Machota writes. “While the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was drafted after the Cowboys moved back two spots a year ago, there’s no chance they would’ve moved back from the 10th pick if they’d known Parsons would have the immediate impact he did last season.”
Trading up is exciting, but where would Dallas look should they acquire a higher pick?
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Cowboys’ Areas of Need in First Round
From Machota’s perspective, there’s three primary areas the Cowboys will likely address in the first round. While there will be high-level talent through the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, high draft picks are about getting the exact prospect a team wants.
“Moving up from the 24th pick this year would likely mean the Cowboys will grab another pressure player up front for their defense, a big-time playmaking wide receiver or a cornerstone offensive lineman to help fix one of their biggest problems from the 2021 season,” Machota wrote.
All three of those areas are places where the Cowboys lost key starters, and there’s significant talent in all three areas in the draft. It’s fortunate that the draft value has played out the way it has, but it’s on Jones and Dallas’ front office to make the most of it.
NFL.com draft analyst Charles Davis‘ latest mock draft has four edge rushers going in the first 16 picks, while there are three offensive tackles and two receivers going in that span. Mock drafts are hardly concrete, but that gives a decent idea of where the best value may be, should the Cowboys trade up.
Cowboys’ Draft Picks in 2022
Of course, part of trading up is having the ammunition to move up. Dallas has nine picks in this year’s draft:
- Round 1 – Pick 24
- Round 2 – Pick 56
- Round 3 – Pick 88
- Round 4 – Pick 128
- Round 5 – Pick 155 (from CLE)
- Round 5 – Pick 167
- Round 5 – Pick 176 (compensatory selection)
- Round 5 – Pick 178
- Round 6 – Pick 192 (from CLE)
There’s picks to utilize in a trade, with the fifth round’s four picks seeming like the most likely area for Dallas to pull from in a trade up. Considering the Cowboys appear to be in “win now” mode, they shouldn’t be afraid to throw picks at teams if it helps them move up.