Cowboys' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Cowboys' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys do not need any more first-round talent on their offensive depth chart. 

    Of course, you could have said that in 2020 as well before the team selected CeeDee Lamb in the first round. 

    With most of the skill positions around Dak Prescott set for 2021, the Cowboys should focus on improving their defense in the 2021 NFL draft.

    The improvements should start at cornerback, where two players with NFL pedigree should be available when the Cowboys select at No. 10.

    The potential addition of Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn to the secondary alongside Trevon Diggs could have the Cowboys set at that spot for years to come.

    Since at least one of the corners should be around at No. 10, it is hard to see the Cowboys go away from that spot, but there is always a chance they throw a curveball in the draft order, like they did with Lamb in 2020.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Surtain is likely to be the first cornerback taken on Thursday.

    The Alabama product has been connected to the Cowboys in many mock drafts, including one from Pro Football Focus' experts. NBC Sports' Peter King also projected Surtain to land with the NFC East side.

    The Cowboys need help in the secondary after conceding 34 passing touchdowns, which was the tied-sixth-worst in the NFL in 2020.

    In three of the last four years, the Cowboys used their first selection on a defensive player, but they have not targeted the defensive backfield with those selections.

    The Cowboys waited until the second round to land Trevon Diggs in 2020, and a potential selection of Surtain could bolster the chemistry in the secondary since the two played together at Alabama.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

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    Bruce Newman/Associated Press

    The son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn should be the Cowboys' target if Surtain is not available, or they trade back in the first round.

    That is the scenario posed by CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson, who had the Cowboys dropping back to No. 15 to select Horn.

    Dallas' No. 10 pick could be a prime spot for quarterback-hungry franchises to trade up if one of Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance are still on the board.

    Horn could solve the same issues Surtain could on the outside of the defense and may form a solid partnership with Diggs for years to come.

    Horn leaped on to the first-round radar with two interceptions and solid all-around play for a struggling South Carolina team before he opted out for the rest of the season.

    If the Cowboys land Horn or Surtain, they will have two cornerbacks with NFL pedigree. Diggs is the younger brother of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    If the Cowboys made a shocking call to go away from corner at No. 10, or trade down and lose out on Surtain and Horn, they can look to some of the class' top edge-rushers.

    Michigan's Kwity Paye could be a nice option to add beneath DeMarcus Lawrence on the depth chart.

    Edge-rusher is not an immediate like corner, but you can never have too many strong pass-rushers, especially in a division where getting to the opposing quarterback could be the difference-maker in some games.

    The Cowboys could look to take advantage of the relative inactivity of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the Washington pocket and limit the rushing production of Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts.

    Paye made 8.5 sacks in his final two seasons at Michigan, and the Cowboys could point to his 6.5-sack season in 2019 as to how his skill will translate to the NFL.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference and