Owner Jerry Jones refuses to call the Dallas Cowboys ready for the Super Bowl after a widely successful 2017 NFL Draft.
The team filled their needs in a big way and improved a talent base that finished with a league-best 13-3 record last season.
After losing in the NFC divisional playoffs to the Green Bay Packers, the primary goal is to possibly reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.
Jones is not ready to go there because of an arduous schedule that makes duplicating last year’s success tougher.
But don’t equate Jones’ hesitancy with a lack of optimism following a defensive-heavy draft over the past three days that included three defensive linemen and four defensive backs among the team’s nine picks, including six of the first seven.
“I don’t want to go there. I wouldn’t go there,” Jones said regarding the Super Bowl. “I shouldn’t do that because we are going to have to really play to play at the level we played last year relative to the won-loss. Now we are in better shape to play in the playoffs than we did last year.
“I feel good,. I think we are more talented. We’ve got more available talent. We are definitely better on defense than we were at the end of last year.”
The Cowboys made a calculated gamble at the start of free agency when they let a host of defensive starters and major contributors walk with plans of replacing them with upgrades in the draft.
The Cowboys worked that plan to perfection as they filled needs and replaced losses with a steely-eyed focus in a draft that fell just right for them.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said five of the picks were among the top 68 players on their draft board, including three from their first two rounds.
“Our overall plan was to draft the best players available,” Stephen Jones said. “It just so happened that the draft set up nice for us on defensive side of the ball with the defensive line and the secondary. Those players were right at the top of the board in makings us a better football team.”
Jerry Jones added, “It does help that need if that’s where the meat of the draft.”
It remains unknown if the Cowboys have improved themselves enough to possibly end their 21-year Super Bowl drought. That must be proven on the field.
The Cowboys have put themselves in position to be better not just for this season, but for years to come.
It started on Thursday with the addition of Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton with the 28th overall pick in the first round, filling a huge need for a pass rusher.
The Cowboys followed with two cornerbacks in the second and third rounds on Friday, including Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis, respectively.
They finished up on Saturday with North Carolina receiver/returner Ryan Switzer in the fourth round, Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods and Florida State cornerback Marquez White in the sixth round and Florida defensive tackle Joey Ivey, Ohio State receiver Noah Brown and Colorado defensive tackle Jordan Carrell in the seventh round.
Charlton, Awuzie, Lewis and Woods could all compete for starting spots while Switzer has already been penciled in as the team’s primary returner.
In the end, the Cowboys replaced the free agent losses of cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (New York Jets) and Brandon Carr (Baltimore Colts), safeties Barry Church (Jacksonville Jaguars) and J.J. Wilcox (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and defensive tackle Terrell McClain (Washington Redskins) and defensive end Jack Crawford (Atlanta Falcons).
Not only have Cowboys overhauled their entire secondary with players who fit defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme best, but they have changed the makeup of the entire team when you add in franchise second-year centerpieces in quarterback Dak Prescott and running Ezekiel Elliott.
“What you do have, if you put last year’s draft with this draft, now there’s been some serious changes in scenery around here in a couple of very key areas,” Jerry Jones said. “That’s a good thing.”
Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft picks
28 Taco Charlton DE Michigan
60 Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
92 Jourdan Lewis, DB, Michigan
133 Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolilna
191 Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech
216 Marquez White, CB, Florida State
228 Joey Ivie, DT, Florida
239 Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
246 Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado