Coming off their worst season in 27 years, the Dallas Cowboys are looking towards the 2016 NFL Draft to help regain their position atop the NFC East. With the No. 4 overall pick in the first round, the team has a chance to take the best player in this year’s class.
The opinion among many draft experts is that the Cowboys will look to select a pass rusher or linebacker with their first pick. Dallas is hoping to improve a defense that finished ahead of only five other teams — with 31 total sacks in the 2015 season — and the unit ranked in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed. But there is some disagreement surrounding which player the Cowboys have their eyes on.
Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa might make the most sense for the Cowboys at No. 4 overall. At 6’6 and 275 pounds, Bosa looks like he could be playing in Pro Bowls for years to come. After being named First-Team, All-Big Ten in back-to-back years, Bosa totaled 51 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks in three seasons with the Buckeyes.
The Dallas coaching staff was in Columbus, Ohio, last week for a workout with Bosa and other Ohio State prospects. A recent report, however, indicated that Dallas would pass on Bosa if he’s available.
According to NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein, not everyone in the Cowboys’ organization is sold on Bosa being worth such a high pick. It’s entirely possible that the report could be a smokescreen leaked by Dallas, but the team has another option if they decide Bosa isn’t the player for them.
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack could potentially go at No. 4 to the Cowboys. Jack only played three games last year after his season ended because of a knee injury. But in 2013 and 2014, he totaled 108 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and three interceptions. His elite athleticism and ability to drop into pass coverage should make him the first linebacker off the board.
The Cowboys didn’t make any major additions to their defense in free agency. Greg Hardy might have been the team’s best pass rusher in 2015, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be back in 2016. Dallas will bring back their top three linebackers, but the starters have struggled to stay on the field in recent seasons. Sean Lee hasn’t played 15 games since 2011, and Rolando McClain has missed eight games since 2014.
It’s possible that Dallas could look to the offensive side of the ball for their first pick. The biggest reason for the Cowboys’ struggles last season was the injury to Romo. The veteran quarterback missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, and he’s dealt with injuries for much of his time as the team’s starter. Owner Jerry Jones had openly admitted that Dallas has done a poor job in getting a quality backup quarterback, and they could look to improve in that area with the No. 4 pick.
North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz is the favorite to be selected No. 2 overall by the Cleveland Browns, and that could make California signal caller Jared Goff available for the Cowboys. Goff threw for 4,714 yards and 43 touchdowns as a junior with the Golden Bears, and he could prove to be an upgrade over the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, who Dallas was forced to start in 2015.
Goff is highly touted by many scouts, and he could prove to be the future replacement for Romo, who will be 36 years old when the 2016 season begins. Jones has said he would be in favor of a situation much like the Green Bay Packers had with Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. Rodgers was drafted in 2005, and he took over for Favre in 2008, becoming a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback.
There had been speculation that the Cowboys might look to draft Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, but that isn’t likely to happen after the Alfred Morris signing. Dallas has drafted just two skill position players in the first round since 1998.