The Dallas Cowboys made the playoffs for the first time in back-to-back years since 2006 and 2007. However, the Cowboys could still not get over the hump, as they fell in the Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers 19-12. Dallas has not appeared in the NFC Championship Game since the 1995-96 season.
The Cowboys have signaled there will be a lot of change this off-season. Several assistant coaches were already replaced, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore departed for the Los Angeles Chargers. It seems the front office has realized its current roster is not good enough to take the next step. Dallas’ most significant offseason upgrades typically come from the NFL Draft. Which players could the Cowboys target in the 2023 NFL Draft?
2022 Season Record: 12-5
Status of Coach: Mike McCarthy – Safe
Positions Needed by the Cowboys
- Wide receiver
- Defensive tackle
- Running back
Notable Draft Picks
- Round 1, Pick 26
- Round 2, Pick 58
Potential First-Round Targets
At some point, wideout will be addressed. However, the No. 26 overall pick could be a bad spot to take a receiver. Dallas typically deploys the best available draft strategy, which could be the case once again.
Wide receivers like USC’s Jordan Addison or Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be great fits with their good route running and ability to excel in the slot. However, both will likely be off of the board. Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers could be the next best option. Flowers is a big-play machine, but he is only 5-foot-10 and will likely exclusively work out of the slot.
Suppose there is not a good value at wide receiver. In that case, the Cowboys could look at the following prospects: Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson, Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders and running back Bijan Robinson. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and running back Tony Pollard are free agents.
Simpson and Sanders would bring a ton of versatility, making Dallas’ defense even more “positionless.” Robinson can immediately be one of the NFL’s best backs with his all-around ability, but spending a high pick on a running back is frowned upon.
Drew Sanders is a rare athlete at off-ball LB. Sheds blocks better than anyone in this class and has legitimate pass rushing upside pic.twitter.com/1SHsWDGweV
— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) January 25, 2023
Offensive guard and cornerback are two other potential targets. The Cowboys’ day-one strategy will become more clear after free agency.
Learn More About the NFC East Draft 2023
- New York Giants 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
- Philadelphia Eagles 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
- Washington Commanders 2023 Positions Needed & First Round Draft Picks
Potential Second-Round Targets
Targeting a wide receiver in the second round could be a better value for Dallas. SMU wideout Rashee Rice would be an exceptional selection at No. 58. Rice has ideal size at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, and he has reliable hands and excels after the catch. The SMU product could end up being the Cowboys’ first-round selection. Rice could easily move up draft boards, becoming a fringe first-rounder.
Dallas desperately needs speed in its receiving corps, which is exactly what Tennessee’s Jaylin Hyatt would provide. This is another prospect that could easily become a first-round talent. Don’t be surprised if Hyatt cracks the 4.2s in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
The Cowboys have also had the tendency to draft cornerbacks in the second round, like Trevon Diggs in the 2020 NFL Draft and Kelvin Joseph in the 2021 NFL Draft. Dallas could need a new perimeter cornerback with Anthony Brown’s contract expiring. Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State) and Deonte Banks (Maryland) are solid options in the second round. Forbes has excellent ball skills and length, while Banks has prototypical size, great athleticism, and shines in man coverage.
Filling in supporting roles on defense and getting quarterback Dak Prescott more weapons will be atop the Cowboys’ priorities in the 2023 NFL Draft.
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The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.