The tale of the 2021 Dallas Cowboys was one of two teams.
Out the gate, the Cowboys were outstanding. After falling in the season opener to the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, they went on to win six straight. But then, Dallas lost some juice offensively.
While injuries to Dak Prescott (calf) and Ezekiel Elliott (knee) played a role, the Cowboys never quite looked the same after their Week 9 home loss to the Broncos.
And although Dallas managed to win five of its final six games, four of those wins came against meager NFC East opposition. After winning the division, the Cowboys went one and done in the postseason, coming up short against the 49ers.
At one point, the Cowboys were playing like one of the best teams in the league and looked like prime candidates to make a run at Super Bowl 56. Instead, the season ended with another disappointing finish in JerryWorld.
Cowboys NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 1, Pick 24 (24th Overall): Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
- Round 2, Pick 24 (56th Overall): Sam Williams, EDGE, Mississippi
- Round 3, Pick 24 (88th Overall): Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
- Round 4, Pick 24 (129th Overall): Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
- Round 5, Pick 12 (155th Overall): Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
- Round 5, Pick 24 (167th Overall): DaRon Bland, CB, Fresno State
- Round 5, Pick 33 (176th Overall): Damone Clark, LB, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 35 (178th Overall): John Ridgeway, DT, Arkansas
- Round 6, Pick 14 (193rd Overall): Devin Harper, LB, Oklahoma State
Dallas has been known to have a talented offensive line in past years but it was an obvious need in the 2022 NFL Draft. After losing La’el Collins and Connor Williams in the offseason, the Cowboys addressed the line in the first round by selecting Tyler Smith, one of the best offensive tackles in this class, out of Tulsa.
Replacing Amari Cooper won’t be easy, but CeeDee Lamb is very talented and can step up into the WR 1 role with Michael Gallup playing second fiddle. Jalen Tolbert is a small-school weapon who can do some damage downfield. I like him as a weapon for this offense with Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys have been known to take some chances in the NFL Draft, and they did just that with Sam Williams out of Mississippi. He fell a bit in the draft, likely due to his off-field concerns. Back in 2020, he was suspended after being charged with sexual battery. He’s talented, but there are obviously some major character concerns here.
Another risky pick was Damone Clark, a linebacker out of LSU who had spinal surgery and could miss the entire 2022 season.
There’s a lot to be excited about for these Cowboys rookies, but there are also a lot of concerns. It seems about like what you’d expect out of the Cowboys, who tend to shoot for upside in the draft.
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Note: The Cowboys NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Cowboys NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 1, Pick 24 (24th Overall): Kenyon Green, G/T, Texas A&M
- Round 2, Pick 24 (56th Overall): John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
- Round 3, Pick 24 (88th Overall): Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
- Round 4, Pick 24 (129th Overall): Matthew Butler, IDL, Tennessee
More Possible Cowboys Draft Targets: George Pickens, WR, Georgia; Josh Paschal, DE, Kentucky; Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State; Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA.
Pre-Draft Cowboys Team Needs 2022
1. Offensive Line
The Cowboys lost guard Connor Williams to the Dolphins in free agency. They also released right tackle La’el Collins to free up cap space, leaving two significant holes along their offensive front.
Left tackle Tyron Smith, 31, also isn’t getting any younger, despite the fact that he remains an elite talent when fully healthy.
Look for the Cowboys to attack the front five in the draft. While they can add veteran depth in free agency, they also need to draft and develop depth for the future.
2. Defensive Line
An unexpected hole opened up at pass-rusher after the Cowboys lost defensive end Randy Gregory to Denver in free agency. And while they managed to sign Dan Quinn‘s confidant Dante Fowler from the Falcons, he is not the long-term answer at one of the NFL’s most-critical positions.
While they need some help on the outside, there is some promise on the interior of Dallas’ defensive line. Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, and Osa Odighizuwa are young and developing talents, but you can never create too much pressure up front.
3. Wide Receiver
The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Browns and saw Cedrick Wilson join the Dolphins in free agency, creating the need to target a wideout in free agency or the draft.
Sure, the Cowboys inked James Washington, but he isn’t exactly scaring opposing defenses.
I don’t see the Cowboys entering 2022 with CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Washington, and Noah Brown as their top four wide receivers. That would be a significant downgrade from what they started the 2021 season with.
Dallas is going to make a splash at the position somewhere. This year’s draft features a deep wide receiver class, so my guess is that the Cowboys get their guy in April.
Cowboys May Also Consider Drafting: Linebacker, Safety, Cornerback