Hopefully, this won't happen again for a long time. It would be nice if, following picking fourth and 34th in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys didn't have two picks that high for the foreseeable future. If the teams' front office — led, as ever, by Jerry Jones — can put together a decent slate of selections this year, it could happen, too. The Cowboys certainly have a few glaring holes — at quarterback, running back and on the pass rush — but they're of the type than can be filled with one good draft. Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at some of the players Dallas might be targeting over the draft's first two days.
1. Carson Wentz — Rumor has it that the Cowboys coaching staff fell in love with North Dakota State's Wentz when they coached him at the Senior Bowl this winter. He's prototypical size for a quarterback at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds and was a consistent winner in college, leading North Dakota State to two straight Football Championship Subdivision national titles. The primary questions around his potential NFL performance center on the fact that he did not face a high level of competition in college — the FCS is the NCAA's second tier, but in many ways, he is evocative of the Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, another big guy from a small school.
Given the time to develop, Wentz could be a superstar and time, assuming Tony Romo plays for two or three more years, is something the Cowboys seem to have. The risk with hanging your draft on picking up Wentz if your the Cowboys is that he might not be available with the fourth pick — the Browns, who pick second, are rumored to be really into him as well.
2. Jared Goff — California-Berkeley's Goff is sure to be the first or second quarterback taken in the draft. He's got a big arm and all the physical tools necessary to play QB in the NFL, but he doesn't cut quite as imposing of a figure as Wentz. Like Wentz, Goff is not a ready made NFL starter, but he still has the potential to be a franchise quarterback. He'll be there at number four, if the Cowboys want him.
3. Paxton Lynch — Lynch, who played his college football at Memphis, is the rawest of a raw group of talented first round quarterbacks. Memphis' offense is incredibly simple, never requiring Lynch to make the type of decisions he'll be faced with on every play in the NFL. He should go somewhere in the mid- to low 20s in the first round, which is why he might end up on the Cowboys. It wouldn't be that hard for the 'Boys to trade their 34th pick, combined with some other goodies, and get back into the bottom half of the first round.
4. Cardale Jones — This is a little bit of a cheat because Jones definitely won't get drafted in the first round and might not go on day two, when the second and third rounds are selected. Still, if the Cowboys want to use their first couple of picks to select for talent, rather than pure need, taking Jones later in the draft is perfect. The Ohio State product has physical skills greater than or equal any of the three aforementioned quarterbacks — watch the video, he's got a cannon — but he won't get drafted nearly as high because he hasn't perfected the mental side of the game. He was benched six games into the season last year in Columbus, largely because of his inability to avoid turnovers, and he's perceived as a bit of head case. The Cowboys, of all teams, are comfortable with guys like Jones. If they can get him in the fourth or fifth round, he could turn out to be a tremendous value.
The Defensive Guys
5. Joey Bosa — Bossa, Jones' teammate at Ohio State, is the best player in the draft. Bosa is monster-sized, at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds and he's an efficient, powerful pass rusher who will get to quarterback for years in the NFL. If he's available at number four, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys passing him up. If they do, it's easy to imagine them regretting it.
6. Myles Jack — Jack, who played linebacker and a little running back for UCLA in college, will stick to linebacker in the NFL. He'll be excellent, too. Like Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, Jack is a excellent coverage linebacker, something that's essential in today's short-passing saturated NFL, but he's also an excellent pass rusher and a perfectly adequate run defender. He's a lot like Raiders superstar Khalil Mack, and he'll definitely be drafted in the top 10. If Bosa's gone and the Cowboys decide to shore up the front seven, jack's the guy.
7. Jalen Ramsey — After Bosa, Ramsey's probably the second-most talented player in the 2016 draft. He's got sprinter's speed — he starred in track and field as well as football for Florida State — and has the ball-hawking skills you want in a cornerback. The only thing that might push him down the Cowboys board is that they aren't exactly in dire need of a corner. Ramsey would instantly be the Cowboys best player in the secondary, but led by a returning Orlando Scandrick and a maturing Byron Jones, the Cowboys shouldn't be awful in the defensive backfield. Ramsey would a really useful luxury item.
8. Ezekiel Elliot — If this were 20 years ago, the Cowboys would probably take Ohio State running back Elliot with the fourth pick. Elliot was an explosive, durable runner in college and looks set to be a plug-and-play NFL player. The NFL's evaluation of running back play has evolved, however, and many teams like the Cowboys have begun building their running games around offensive lines. Running backs, with their short shelf lives, are now viewed as disposable, something exemplified by the Cowboys letting DeMarco Murray leave for Philadelphia after he had one of the best rushing season's in Cowboys history. Still, Jerry Jones could be chastened by the Cowboys running games' underperformance last year and decide he wants a new bell-cow back. Elliot fits the bill.
9. Derrick Henry — Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama running back Henry is seen as a little slow and runs a little too upright to be a superstar NFL running back. He could be available when the Cowboys pick at 34 and he'd have his best chance at success running behind the Cowboys massive offensive line. Combined with incumbent starter Darren McFadden and free-agent Alfred Morris, Henry could contribute to a heckuva three-headed monster.
10. Laquon Treadwell — Ole Miss wide receiver Treadwell doesn't make sense to draft with the fourth pick and won't be around in the second round, but his size and tenacity make him a fantasy counterpart to Dez Bryant. Treadwell plays a lot like Michael Irvin, and seeing him playing with a star on his helmet would be fun, if unlikely.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.