The Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly be selecting at the top of this upcoming draft, and there has been a lot of debate among Cowboys fans about what position they need to address with that pick. Dallas has big needs at defensive back, linebacker, and offensive line.
Most Cowboys fans believe that Jerry Jones should draft a specific prospect to fill one of those specific needs; however, the right decision would be to select the best player available and focus on improving the roster in general.
The Cowboys used the “best player available” philosophy in last year’s draft when they selected CeeDee Lamb with the 17th overall pick, which has paid Dallas dividends. Getting Lamb at pick 17 didn’t even seem like a realistic option for the Cowboys going into draft night. Lamb was a consensus top-10 prospect coming out of Oklahoma last season and was considered to be the best wide receiver in the draft by many NFL Draft gurus. Pro Football Focus ranked Lamb as their sixth overall player on their Big Board, saying that he’s the most advanced wide receiver prospect they’ve ever seen.
Lamb totaled a whopping 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 21.4 yards a catch and 102.1 yards per game in his final season in Norman. The OU product was also a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection and a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Despite Dallas’ offensive weapons and needs on the defensive side of the ball, CeeDee Lamb was just too good of a prospect to pass up at pick 17.
CeeDee Lamb’s rookie season isn’t even over yet, but he’s already shown why teams need to draft the best player available consistently. Lamb has quickly emerged as one of the best young wide receivers in all of football. Through 13 games, Lamb has 59 catches for 696 yards and 4 touchdowns, while averaging 11.8 yards a catch. Lamb was on pace for around 1,200 yards receiving and eight touchdowns prior to Dak Prescott’s gruesome ankle injury.
Lamb broke Bob Hayes’ record for most receptions by a rookie in Dallas Cowboy’s history with an insane touchdown grab against the Vikings in week 11:
CeeDee Lamb’s UNREAL TD catch 🤯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 22, 2020
If the Cowboys had drafted for need instead of the best player available, Dallas would’ve likely selected edge rusher, K’Lavon Chaisson, out of LSU, who has had a disappointing season, to say the least. Chaisson has recorded just 1 sack and 8 tackles all season long and is one of the worst-graded run defenders in the entire league according to PFF.
The Cowboys were also reportedly looking at selecting Trevon Diggs with the 17th pick, which obviously would have been a huge reach since they were able to draft him in the second round.
Taking CeeDee Lamb over any defender Dallas could’ve taken with the 17th pick was the smart decision because one rookie defensive player wouldn’t have made a big enough impact on the team that Lamb has made. Lamb has helped in the development of Dak Prescott, he’s taken away double teams from Amari Cooper, and he has opened more running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott.
General managers need to realize that it is not smart to reach for a player just because of need. Teams can always address needs later in the draft and in free agency. GMs who want to fill a need should trade back instead of reaching for a player by selecting them too early.
It is important to find value in where you are picking, which is why selecting the best player available is always the right pick. Using the “BPA” approach will give you a more talented and cheaper overall roster as well.
Featured image via Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports