The 2016 NFL draft will go down as a pretty successful draft when it comes to the top 5 picks. Two really good quarterbacks were drafted early as were a couple of standout defensive players. What peaks my curiosity is whether Dallas made the right pick at 4 in drafting Ezekiel Elliott.
Now we all know hindsight is 20/20 and that the Cowboys were in a different situation in 2016. The players drafted were Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dak Prescott, Anthony Brown, Kavon Frazier, Darius Jackson, and Rico Gathers. We saw immediate contribution from 4 of these players in the 2016 NFL season. But what if Dallas would’ve done something different? What if they didn’t draft off a certain need? Let’s take a look at how different the Cowboys could’ve possibly looked.
With the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Jalen Ramsey from Florida State. Yep, I went there…. If you remember back in 2016, the conversation surrounded whether the Cowboys should’ve drafted Bosa, Ramsey, or Elliott. The Cowboys had a need where each one of these players played. What made the team finalize on their decision was what happened in 2015. In their first season without Demarco Murray, the Cowboys sputtered offensively. Of course they were missing Romo and Dez (at times) but without a threat at running back, the Cowboys felt like they weren’t going to scare any opponent. But what if they drafted Jalen Ramsey instead… Ramsey is a Pro Bowl corner who is looking very dangerous on the field. Dallas had a need at corner and the offensive line showed us that they could even make Darren McFadden a 1,000 yard rusher. By drafting a corner here, the Cowboys would’ve addressed an issue on defense. A problem with that though is they kind of got burned in 2012 by Morris Claiborne.
In the second round the Cowboys select, Derrick Henry from Alabama. Yep, this is what the Cowboys should’ve done for sure. Henry was the second best running back on the board after Elliott and he actually went pretty deep into the second round. The reasons for/against drafting Henry were a few. But he would’ve been a good guy to pair with McFadden in the backfield early on. By this strategy the Cowboys would’ve shored up corner and running back quickly. This would’ve also left them with a chance to take a risk on a player later on.
The Cowboys select Joshua Perry out of Ohio State. Here the Cowboys would’ve gotten a linebacker as they hoped. This pick would’ve also been a reach compared to where Perry actually went. Based on his career arc, the problem would’ve been that Perry’s career would’ve possibly been derailed by injury. Although, he would’ve been a risk the Cowboys could’ve taken without sacrificing their draft.
In the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Rayne Dakota Prescott from Mississippi State. Nothing different with this pick. The Cowboys felt like they needed insurance for Romo but didn’t want to pay too much. Prescott would’ve been the smart pick here as they didn’t have another glaring need on the board.
Finally, in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Cowboys would’ve selected nobody. Not necessarily, they should’ve packaged two these three picks to move up into the fifth round and drafted Tyreke Hill. The problem is that Hill wasn’t necessarily a need. So I would’ve seriously seen them package two of the picks and sent them to Cleveland. Then the Cowboys would’ve drafted Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Why? Because Doug Free announced his retirement. The Cowboys would’ve paid low for a player like Vaitai and had some depth on the offensive line. Then in the sixth round I would’ve seen Dallas pick up Will Parks a safety. Dallas knew they needed secondary help and they would’ve brought in a high drafted corner, and a safety to work on those issues. Plus Parks drafted here could create competition at safety and possibly allowing Dallas to move Byron Jones to corner (his natural position). Here are all the picks listed:
Round 1: CB, Jalen Ramsey
Round 2: RB, Derrick Henry
Round 3: ILB, Joshua Perry
Round 4: QB, Rayne Dakota Prescott
Round 5: T, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Round 6: S, Will Parks
Overall I do think the Cowboys made a mistake. The biggest mistake was drafting Ezekiel Elliott in the first round. I think Dallas had a great opportunity to grab two starters early and have them contribute early. Yes we do have Elliott and Smith starting but we have also seen a lot of missed games. The players listed on my board would have fit into the system quickly. Heck, Ramsey and Henry would be standouts at this moment. What do you think Cowboys fans, did Dallas make a mistake in how they drafted in 2016?