With four total picks on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys met the expectations of going all-in on defense. However, they did so while raising some eyebrows by making some picks that would be better described as head-scratchers. Still, they addressed plenty of needs at all levels of the defense.
Starting off by pick #44 in the second round, the Cowboys made a bet in Cornerback Kelvin Joseph from Kentucky. Dallas’ front office is well-known for making second-round bets and despite drafting a player with maturity concerns, they found first-round talent in the former Kentucky and LSU defensive back.
Joseph is a long and athletic player that consistently makes plays on the ball. In 2020, he racked up four interceptions and six passes deflected. However, concerns about his commitment to the game abound. Even though fans shouldn’t be concerned about Kelvin’s passion for rapping, there are fair question marks on his effort level. Kentucky coaches invited Joseph to opt-out of the team’s final two games.
According to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide, coaches were quoted to say Joseph needs to “grow up.” HC Mark Stoops said on inviting him to opt-out that he “can’t just have him out there standing around.”
Even still, Kelvin Joseph’s athleticism will pay off for the Dallas Cowboys if they can get past the maturity issues. They’re getting a cornerback who can play outside and inside and that should be able to stick to NFL receivers of all shapes and sizes.
The Cowboys need a cornerback who can play right away, and they might’ve gotten one in Joseph.
The third round was a more difficult one to evaluate for the Dallas Cowboys. With their three picks, they continued to build on defense.
- 3.75: DL Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
- 3.84: DE Chauncey Golston, Iowa
- 3.99: CB Nahshon Wright, Oregon State
The third-round theme for the Dallas Cowboys was “reaching.” That doesn’t mean the team didn’t get a couple of solid players. Odighizuwa and Golston are solid defensive players who cover some of the most important needs in Dan Quinn’s defense.
Osa played primarily as a nose tackle for UCLA, but he lined up everywhere from the zero to the five-technique spot. He’s a big and strong player with a wrestling background from High School (three-time state champion) that’s built to be a run stopper. If he finds a way to provide value in pass-rushing situations, he’ll be an impact player for the Cowboys.
Chauncey Golston was another surprising pick, but the team addresses the need for depth behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Despite having a solid duo in the starting lineup, the Cowboys have few players to talk about behind them. Golston should make things interesting thanks to his long build and position flex. In Iowa, he was primarily a defensive end but was used as an inside pass rusher from time to time.
The biggest “reach” for the Cowboys came until the 99th pick, when Dallas selected cornerback Nahshon Wright from Oregon State, a player plenty of analysts had a seventh-round grade on.
To understand the Cowboys’ thought process for drafting Wright, one can point toward the fact that he’s a very specific player that fits Quinn’s scheme. As John Owning pointed out on Twitter, Wright is a long cornerback that likes to bully receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Important to remember with other draft analysts' grades is that they're grading with the whole NFL in mind – not a specific scheme.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) May 1, 2021
For a lot of defenses, Wright is probably undraftable but for Dallas, his skill set is a much better fit – thus the wide discrepancy between grades
What feels odd about the Dallas Cowboys’ Day 2 is the fact that despite having three picks in the third round, they don’t seem to be getting a lot of value. According to The Athletic’s consensus board, the Cowboys have reached in every pick except for Micah Parsons in the first round.
Dane Brugler had a fourth-round grade in Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston and a seventh round-UDFA grade on Nahshon Wright. Matt Miller’s board doesn’t offer much optimism either.
#Cowboys Round 3 vs. my board— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 1, 2021
Pick 75 Osa Odighizuwa – rank No. 228
Pick 84 Chauncey Gholston – rank 242
Pick 99 Nahshon Wright – rank 315
Could be they're right & I'm wrong, but never had this happen before
The #Cowboys drafted so well last year because they just picked the best player on the board.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) May 1, 2021
Not having as much luck this year.
(Rankings via the consensus board via @TheAthletic) pic.twitter.com/ywwpZQSPSW
One thing is clear, however. The Dallas Cowboys are putting a lot of weight on the prospect’s length and size. All the Day 2 picks share that common trait that DC Dan Quinn values a lot. It is said that scouts need two measuring tapes for Osa’s wingspan.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, teams must trust their process regardless of what the media says. So as Stephen Jones put it, it’s time for the Cowboys to hope they’re right about their picks.
Per ESPN’s Todd Archer, Stephen Jones had a few final thoughts to share. “Remember the biggest one of all was (Travis) Frederick (in the first round in 2013), […] He ended up going to what six Pro Bowls and everybody had him in the fifth, sixth round? Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes you’re right.”
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