Cowboys' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 27, 2022

Cowboys' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best track records in the NFL draft over the past five years.

    CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard are among the players the team has chosen during that stretch.

    Dallas needs to rely on its scouting strength once again in the 2022 NFL draft, which gets underway Thursday, as it tries to find replacements for Connor Williams and Amari Cooper.

    The offensive line will likely be the focus of the 24th overall pick Thursday. Dallas might miss out on the run on wide receivers because of the needs of the teams in front of it.

    The Cowboys should not act on impulse when it comes to wide receiver since Lamb and Gallup top the depth chart. But if a top-tier wide receiver falls to No. 24, the Cowboys should weigh their options between that player and one of the top offensive linemen.

    Dallas owns nine picks in the draft, and eight of them are in the first five rounds. The franchise should add more quality to its roster in addition to whomever lands at No. 24.

Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Dallas' first-round objective may be to land an interior offensive lineman in any scenario.

    The Cowboys lost Connor Williams in the offseason and should view an upgrade at offensive guard as their top priority.

    Tyler Linderbaum played center at Iowa, but he could be moved to the guard position to shore up the weaknesses on the roster.

    He could be brought in put some pressure on Tyler Biadasz as well depending on how the center situation plays out in training camp. The Iowa product is one of three interior offensive linemen who could be intriguing to the Cowboys at No. 24. Texas A&M's Kenyon Green and Boston College's Zion Johnson are the others.

    Linderbaum's top strength is his run-blocking, which would help Dallas pave more lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

    ESPN's Jordan Reid noted that Linderbaum needs to work on his pass protection in his seven-round mock draft, in which he projected the Iowa center to the Cowboys.

    "He needs to get stronger to improve his anchor as a pass protector, but he's a significant upgrade over what Dallas has at left guard now," Reid wrote.

    A selection of Linderbaum or another interior lineman would take care of the team's primary need and allow it to focus on other roster spots with its picks in the second and third rounds.

Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Cowboys could turn to a local product to solve their offensive line issue.

    Kenyon Green is projected to be available at No. 24 in most mock drafts. And Dallas' staff might have good familiarity with his play from his time at Texas A&M.'s Chad Reuter projected Green would land with the Arizona Cardinals, one spot ahead of Dallas' current selection, while The Athletic's Dane Brugler mocked Green to the Tennessee Titans at No. 26.

    Green will likely be around at No. 24, but if the Cowboys believe he will not last until then, they could move up a few spots in the first round.

    The 21-year-old played four positions on the offensive line during Texas A&M's 2021 season. That might be an intriguing factor for the Cowboys if they need to mix and match their guards and tackles at any point in the season.

    Zion Johnson is the other prospect to consider at No. 24 and brings some of the similar characteristics to the field as Green.

    There is a high likelihood that Linderbaum, Green or Johnson is Dallas' first pick, but there is always the chance the best available prospect on the Cowboys' draft board falls to the team.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Dallas should not rule out taking a wide receiver at No. 24.

    There are a few scenarios in which the Cowboys would be all-in on a wideout in the first round.

    The most obvious one would be a run on Linderbaum, Green and Johnson that takes all three off the board or removes the preferred option from the Cowboys' draft rankings.

    The second scenario features a later-than-expected run on wide receivers that leaves one of the top players available at No. 24.

    Arkansas' Treylon Burks could fall to the Cowboys in the second scenario, especially if the first wideout chosen comes in the back end of the top 10 or thereafter.

    Burks would give the Cowboys a physical presence inside the slot to partner with Lamb and Gallup. Of course, you also have to mention the Jerry Jones-Arkansas connection here.

    The receiver scored 18 touchdowns in his last two seasons in the SEC. That could be viewed as a huge positive for Dallas' red-zone offense.

    A combination of Lamb, Gallup and Burks alongside tight end Dalton Schultz might open up the possibility for quarterback Dak Prescott to hit a career high in passing yards in 2022.