The Cowboys will have a few different options in the first round.

After signing Jonathan Hankins to tackle the 1-tech defensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys has seemingly covered all its bases going into the NFL Draft next month. Their recent moves, like the trades to acquire Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, have put the team in an enviable spot. It would be fair to say that Dallas has all of its projected starters currently on the roster and has no major holes.

Then consider the less newsworthy transactions that are just as important. The team kept Leighton Vander Esch, who had an excellent season in 2022. They also kept Donovan Wilson, who is a Swiss army knife in Dan Quinn's defense. That makes Dallas a true wild card for the NFL draft.

Currently, the Cowboys sit at the 26th pick. It has been hotly debated which position the team should target and what the consequences are for each decision. In the spirit of the hot topic, let's assess some of these directions and what they would mean for the team going forward.

Take a springback

Taboo as the prospect of taking a running back in the first round is, it deserves mention. Especially for a team like the Cowboys. It's very clear that the Cowboys value the position highly. Ezekiel Elliott's $90 million contract is a prime example of that. Round one running back vitriol aside, let's evaluate what would happen if the Cowboys took a running back with their first pick.

The two most common options mentioned at 26 are Jahmyr Gibbs and Bijan Robinson. Gibbs is a speedy home run threat out of the backfield with a skill set not too dissimilar to Tony Pollard. When it comes to Bijan Robinson, many fans are clamoring for Robinson to be dressed in silver and blue. Robinson is one of the best college players in the nation and the best running back since Saquon Barkley.

As explosive and exciting as these players are, taking any of them is a short-term pick. First, for either of them to have continued success, Dallas needs to strengthen its offensive line. Plus, taking a runner early could close the door on Pollard being in the fold after this year.

Furthermore, if Bijan Robinson is taken, the team could double down on what they did with Ezekiel Elliott, making him the backbone of the offense and then giving him a second contract, much to the chagrin of many fans. Cynical, sure. But this team famously said, “We walk as Zeke walks”. We should expect that to be the case with the ticket numbers a player of Robinson's caliber will bring.

Drafting a cornerback

When it comes to the cornerback class, it's tricky as to which players will be available when the Cowboys are on the clock. The likely options are Deonte Banks and Emmanuel Forbes. The list candidates are Joey Porter Jr. and Devon Witherspoon. Any of these options would be a great pick for the Cowboys going forward. All of them are six feet and taller, so they have the size the Cowboys covet in boundary cornerbacks. Also, it shouldn't go unnoticed but there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the Cowboys' top two corners.

Stephon Gilmore and Trevon Diggs are in the final years of their contracts. Gilmore is very likely a one-year rental given his age. Still, Diggs is a much more complex situation. The former All-Pro will receive a hefty raise over his $4.3 million base salary in 2022. Diggs' contract negotiation with the team could be lengthy and may not be resolved in the foreseeable future. A scenario where Diggs is not with the team is more likely than some might think. His status, along with Gilmore's, after this year needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Taking one of the top corners to secure that position for the next few years would be wise.

Strengthens the offensive

Taking an offensive lineman is the opposite of drafting a running back in the first round. This offensive line is getting older, and the team needs to think about the future of the unit. Tyron Smith has been injured in recent years and is 32 years old. Zack Martin is also 32 years old. This offensive line is in dire need of youth.

Likely options at 26 are TCUSteve Avila and Florida guard O'Cyrus Torrence. Avila is a versatile option who can play either the guard spot or center. He's even taken some snaps at right tackle for the Horned Frogs. Torrence is strictly a guard who would help fix a Cowboys running game that struggled last season.

Adding Torrence could directly affect the futures of Tyler Smith and Terence Steele, who the team may want some flexibility at guard. Steele is coming off an ACL injury and is playing on a one-year deal with no long-term guarantees for the team. Adding Avila could affect center Tyler Biadasz's position on the team.

Avila would likely be his replacement and provide more versatility with a higher upside. Taking either of those players, Torrence or Avila, all but cements Tyler Smith as the left tackle of the future, with right tackle perhaps still needing to be worked out, assuming Tyron Smith isn't on the roster next year.

Shop down

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Finally, what if the Cowboys traded down to get more picks? History has shown that teams are not shy about trading up in the latter part of the first round to acquire a quarterback. Many teams go this route if they need a quarterback but aren't ready to commit to one at the top of the draft but want the security of having one on a fifth-year option just in case.

The Baltimore Ravens acquired Lamar Jackson this way. The Cowboys once did something similar with Cleveland Browns. Traded their first pick in 2006 (Brady Quinn) in exchange for the Browns' second pick in 2006 and a first pick in 2007. Both of those picks were used to select Anthony Spencer and Felix Jones.

Quarterbacks who should be there when the Cowboys pick include Hendon Hooker and Tanner McKee. The teams that may be interested may be Atlanta Falcons or Washington Commanders. For the Cowboys, this would be perfect for next year's draft and this one. There is a perception that this is one of the weaker drafts but there is talent latent in the middle rounds. Dallas stocking up in the middle of the pick would also be an excellent choice.

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