The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2020 offseason with several needs on defense. The Cowboys finished last season with one of the NFL‘s most efficient offenses, but a defense that was only average at stopping the run (15th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA) and below-average against the pass (23rd).
With a new coaching staff in place, it was obvious there were going to be some changes, and indeed there were: the Cowboys let starters Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins, and Jeff Heath walk in free agency. They signed Aldon Smith and hope to get him and Randy Gregory back from suspension, which should help replace Quinn. They signed Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy to help replace Collins. They signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to take Heath’s spot at safety, but with no replacement locked in for Jones, plus a trio of starting defensive backs up for new contracts next offseason (Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods), there has been a ton of speculation that Dallas will use its first-round pick on a player to help out in the back end.
In recent days, that speculation even included the possibility of trading the pick for disgruntled New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. The Cowboys and Jets had talks about Adams at last year’s trade deadline, but ultimately, a deal did not come to fruition. Adams has been frustrated about his lack of a contract extension and reportedly wants out of New York, but according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, it’s unlikely that the team will use the No. 17 pick to acquire his services.
We obviously do not yet know who will be on the board when the Cowboys come on the clock this Thursday, but the draft sets up fairly well for them if they’re looking to nab a player at cornerback (any or all of C.J. Henderson, Kristian Fulton, Trevon Diggs, A.J. Terrell, Jeff Gladney, or Noah Igbinoghene could be available), safety (Xavier McKinney, Grant Delpit, or Antoine Winfield Jr.), or even on the edge (K’Lavon Chaisson, A.J. Epenesa, Yetur Gross-Matos, or Zack Baun) at that spot.
Adams is a higher-caliber player than they are likely to land with that pick, but he’s also due to get paid soon. The Cowboys could conceivably afford such a deal, but there’s still the matter of Dak Prescott’s long-term contract to take care of, which probably takes precedence over trading for and then extending a star-level contributor like Adams — especially when they could draft a player at Adams’ position and use the leftover money to sign more help elsewhere.