Prospects for Cowboys to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2021

Prospects for Cowboys to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2021 NFL draft with some added pressure to hit on their early picks. 

    Landing the 10th overall pick in this draft was more the product of injury and bad luck than an accurate depiction of where the roster is. The Dak Prescott contract also puts added emphasis on finding starter-level players in the draft as they come on cheap contracts. 

    Essentially, the Cowboys find themselves with premium picks in each of the first three rounds and four picks in the top 100. If the roster plays to its potential, the team won't be picking this early again anytime soon. 

    That means it is going to be just as important for the Cowboys to identify potential flops within the confines of their systems than it is to find the absolute best players available. 

    Whether it's a player who projects to develop more slowly than their counterparts, has an injury history or just doesn't provide a lot of value for their draft projection, the Cowboys would be wise to avoid these prospects on draft night. 

Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    If you go back to really early mock drafts, Gregory Rousseau was considered a top-10 pick. After opting out of the 2020 season, that isn't the case anymore, and the Cowboys shouldn't convince themselves it is. 

    Rousseau has a collection of tempting physical traits. He's 6'7" 266 pounds giving him plenty of length to attack the outside shoulder of tackles and disengage blockers. But he opted out of the 2020 season and only played one year at Miami

    The production in that one year is great. He had 15.5 sacks for the Hurricanes, but even that has been called into question by scouts. 

    "I don't really see a big-time NFL rusher. So much of his pressure came as a zero-technique and he won't see those looks in our league. He has very average juice and speed-to-power," an NFL scouting director told

    Rousseau very well could put it all together and be a successful player. But that's a gamble the Cowboys aren't in a position to take. They need someone who can play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence sooner rather than later. Rousseau has a lot of learning to do and won't be ready for an immediate run in the league. 

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Make no mistake, it would be huge for the Dallas Cowboys to come away from this draft with a long-term solution at the outside cornerback spot opposite of Trevon Diggs. 

    Diggs' former Alabama teammate Patrick Surtain II would fill that role. But if Surtain is off the board when they are on the clock at No. 10, Caleb Farley doesn't fit the bill as the backup plan. 

    Farley has great measurables. He has the size you'd like to see in a corner at 6'2" and 197 pounds combined with the athleticism to match receivers stride for stride. 

    It's the injuries that are a serious concern with Farley. Nothing will derail an NFL career quite like injuries, and Farley has already seen his fair share of them. In 2017, he missed the entire season with a non-contact ACL tear, and he missed his pro day after opting out of the 2020 season due to an outpatient back surgery

    Farley is still worthy of a late first-round selection. If he manages to stay healthy, he should be a starting-caliber player sooner rather than later. But that's a big risk at No. 10 when there will be difference-makers on defense to choose from. 

Landon Dickerson, G/C, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys learned the hard way how devastating injuries can be on the offensive line. Serious injuries to Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Zack Martin and others sent the unit into a spiral last season. 

    After the depth was exposed last season, it would be tempting to take Landon Dickerson with their second-round selection should he fall that far. But that would be a waste given the team's other needs and Dickerson's injury history. 

    The Crimson Tide prospect has suffered three major injuries in his time at Florida State and Alabama. Two ACL tears and an ankle injury don't bode well for his future ability to stay on the field. 

    Dickerson's ability to play all over the line is great. He has experience at all five positions, is considered a strong leader and is a physical presence up front. But the Cowboys offensive line doesn't have a lot of holes when healthy. 

    Bringing Dickerson in doesn't really address a pressing need and just adds more injury potential to the group. 

    Martin is coming back to man the right guard spot. Connor Williams proved to be a solid option at left guard. Tyler Biadasz will be on the hot seat, but he's just one year into his career. It's too early to give up on him at center.