The Dallas Cowboys had no reason to expect or deserve the good luck that fell into their laps on the first day of the 2020 NFL draft.
With just about everybody, including probably even Jerry Jones, assuming the Cowboys would grab a defensive player on Thursday, one of the top offensive players in the draft slid down to their No. 17 pick.
There were three wide receivers in the draft who where viewed as game-changers:
CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma
Jerry Jeudy of Alabama
Henry Ruggs of Alabama
It seemed like a bit of a longshot for any one of them to still be around when the Cowboys picked. And the last one left standing was expected to be Ruggs, the smallest of the three.
Once the Oakland/Los Angeles/Las Vegas/Wandering Minstrel Raiders took the speedy Ruggs with the 12th pick, even that possibility was out the window.
When the Cowboys went on the clock at No. 17 and Lamb was somehow still available, the Dallas front office couldn’t pass him up.
So that’s the good news. The Cowboys got a great player at relative bargain considering where they picked.
The possible bad news?
The areas of concern on the Dallas roster entering the draft remain areas of concern heading into the second round.
Priorities are defensive backs, an edge rusher, and to a lesser extent an offensive lineman or two.
Ultimately, how the Cowboys are judged on taking Lamb in the first round will be connected to how the team bolsters the defense on the second day of the draft.
With that in mind, here is what the second and third rounds could have in store for the Dallas roster.
There are four first-round level defensive talents that are still available going into Friday night who fit what the Cowboys need:
safety Xavier McKinney of Alabama
edge A.J. Epenesa of Iowa
cornerback Jaylon Johnson of Utah
edge Yetur Gross-Metos of Penn State
The Cowboys pick 19th in the second round – 51st overall. All four the the players just mentioned will probably be gone unless the Cowboys trade up. In fact, McKinney might have been the guy the Cowboys took in the first round if Lamb hadn’t been there.
If the Cowboys go strictly by need, their second-round pick will be a cornerback. After Johnson, here are some other cornerbacks to look for in the second round:
Trevon Diggs, Alabama
Kristian Fulton, LSU
Bryce Hall, Virginia
Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
Safeties who could be there for the Cowboys in the second round include:
Antoine Winfield Jr. of Minnesota
Grant Delpit of LSU
K’Von Wallace of Clemson.
There are enough edge rushers in the draft that the Cowboys could get a contributor there in the third round. By then Gross-Matos and Epenesa will be long gone. Dallas picks 18th in the third round, No. 82 overall. One mock draft I saw had the Cowboys taking edge Alton Robinson of Syracuse at that spot.
If the Cowboys look for an edge rusher in the second or third rounds without trading up, here is a pool of names they could draw from:
Marlon Davidson of Auburn
Jabari Zuniga of Florida
Curtis Weaver of Boise State
Bradlee Anae of Utah
Josh Uche of Michgan
Trevis Gipson of Tulsa
Julian Okwara of Notre Dame
Darrell Taylor of Tennessee
Alex Highsmith of Charlotte
Anfernee Jennings of Alabama
– in the 2nd round the Cowboys take cornerback Kristian Fulton of LSU
– in the 3rd round the Cowboys take edge rusher Bradlee Anae of Utah
The Cowboys must choose well at the Nos. 51 and 82 picks. Otherwise, Lamb and the Dallas offense might not be able to score enough touchdowns to match what the defense gives up.