Dallas Cowboys Must Prioritize Building Around Tony Romo, Not Beneath Him
This offseason should be simple for the Dallas Cowboys. They should be doing everything possible to build their roster around Tony Romo for his remaining years.
Romo being hurt last year has allowed them to pick in the top five of the draft, but even as he approaches 36 years of age, it doesn’t make sense for the Cowboys to look towards the future prematurely. So long as he is slated to be the team’s starter, the focus should be on adding pieces around him instead of one behind him.
Obviously the Cowboys would like to have a better backup quarterback situation than they had last year, but you don’t need to invest high draft picks in your backup to do that. Furthermore, you shouldn’t invest high draft picks in a backup quarterback because the player will still only be turned to in a worst case scenario. You would draft a backup quarterback in the hopes that he would only have to play a handful of games, keeping the team on track, while expecting the roster around him to elevate their play so Romo’s loss wouldn’t be felt.
The Cowboys don’t have the Denver Broncos defense to rely on, they shouldn’t overreact to what happened last year and force an unnecessary pick at the quarterback position.
Jerry Jones recognized a few years ago that Romo needed more help on the offensive line as he advanced into the latter stages of his career. Having stocked up on high-quality starters from left to right tackle, the Cowboys now must focus on the skill positions. Ezekiel Elliott is often mentioned as an option with the fourth overall pick. Elliott is a good player, a versatile back who could thrive behind that dominant offensive line in Dallas. However, taking him fourth overall wouldn’t be good value.
Elliott isn’t on the same level as Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley when they were prospects coming out. He’s still extremely good, but the difference between he and a Alfred Morris-Lance Dunbar combination wouldn’t be high enough to justify passing on some of the other available options.
What the Cowboys offense really needs is a second receiver who can complement Dez Bryant and offer Romo a mismatch option outside. Josh Doctson looks like that guy.
The Cowboys are unlikely to take Doctson, especially if they stay in the fourth spot on the draft. Nobody is talking about the TCU receiver as a top-five pick and very few are even talking about him going in the top 10. Doctson is more likely to still be available at the 20th pick than he is to go 16 spots earlier. He would diversify the team’s offense with his wide-ranging, explosive skill set while acting as an accuracy-eraser for Romo as the quarterback’s arm will inevitably begin its decline over the coming seasons.
Doctson’s impact on any offense will be big, but it would be huge on Dallas’. He would be an immediately upgrade over Terrance Williams and would be able to take advantage of any extra coverage that is pushed towards Dez Bryant. Against teams who ask their cornerbacks to shadow specific opponents, though there aren’t too many of those teams around these days, Doctson would always get the opponent’s second-best cover corner.
Adding a second impact receiver to the Cowboys offense would set Romo up with everything he needs. Jason Witten may still be a reliable player but he’s sloth-like in his routes at this point of his career and while Williams is explosive, he’s not the well-rounded option that Doctson is. The Cowboys would likely still want to address the running back spot with another addition at running back. They could do that in the second or even third rounds.
Whether it’s Derrick Henry or Kenneth Dixon to compete with Morris for the primary ball-carrying role, or C.J. Prosise to fill the on-field role that Joseph Randle enjoyed before being released, the Cowboys should have plenty of impact running backs available to them after the first round.
If the franchise is completely committed to adding a quarterback this offseason, spending a late-round pick on a developmental option would offer them just as much chance of having a viable backup than spending an early round pick on one of the best quarterbacks from this class.