The Dallas Cowboys need to fix their defense in a hurry. They’re currently running the risk of allowing that side of the ball to undermine what the offense is capable of doing, an all too familiar scenario for fans of a franchise that hasn’t sniffed true success in two and a half decades. Still, it’s not as easy as some would suggest.
Drafting is not a science. It’s not even an art. It’s a lottery with no telling who will pan out in the end. The last time the Cowboys attempted to draft a blue-chip defensive player it was Morris Claiborne in 2012. It’s a safe bet to assume most fans would like to avoid a repeat of that situation, and with cornerback being the team’s most obvious need they could end up in that same boat.
Dallas will be at the mercy of not only the nine teams selecting ahead of them, but the draft class as well. There are no “can’t-miss” prospects in 2021. There’s no Chase Young. There’s no Jalen Ramsey. For Will McClay and company to prepare only for a defensive player at pick No. 10 would be malpractice.
The final advice is not even advice at all. It’s to find value in free agency. This is the exact strategy that the Dallas brass has been following for years. It’s also the one that has failed to produce meaningful help for a long time. It’s clear the Cowboys front office believes that playing for them should mean a little bit more. Maybe it does to some players, but shopping in the bargain bin has not been fruitful.
In 2020 it was HaHa Clinton-Dix, Dontari Poe, Daryl Worley and Gerald McCoy. In 2019 it was George Iloka, Kerry Hyder and Christian Covington. In 2018 it was Kony Ealy while 2017 saw the likes of Nolan Carroll and Stephen Paea. One would have to go back to 2012 and Brandon Carr to see real money spent on a free agent.
Is it possible to find high-level play from budget free agents? Absolutely. But it is far more likely a team gets what it pays for, and the Cowboys have been unwilling to break open the bank to improve the team’s defensive woes. Until they do, it’s likely the defense remains middling at best.