The 2021 NFL Draft is just days away and with their draft board finalized, the Dallas Cowboys might have a plan for what they will do with the No. 10 pick on April 29.
It’s been a busy offseason in Dallas. The Cowboys made a huge commitment with the Dak Prescott contract, hired Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator and brought in role players to help one of the NFL’s worst defenses. With all eyes turned to the NFL Draft, Jerry Jones and Co. are in an interesting spot.
Five quarterbacks could be drafted within the top nine picks next Thursday, pushing plenty of impact talent down the draft board. It creates a unique opportunity for the Cowboys to seize on a sliding talent, especially at a position of need. While things can always change and there will be draft day surprises, Dallas seems to have an early idea of what it will do.
According to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys are down to cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II as their top target for the 10th pick. Furthermore, per NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline, Dallas is expected to be Surtain’s floor.
Who will the Cowboys draft in 2021?
There is one scenario that could change the Cowboys’ pre-draft strategy, one of the elite offensive prospects falling to the No. 10 pick. Otherwise, Dallas will likely be drafting a cornerback barring another team making an overwhelming offer to move up for a quarterback.
Cornerback is certainly one of the Cowboys’ most pressing needs entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Virginia Tech star Caleb Farley is the most talented player in the class, but a recent back surgery is pushing him down the board. Given his medical red flags, it’s no surprise that a decision would come down to Surtain and Horn.
Horn has generated the most buzz during the pre-draft process. He already boasts great size (6-foot-1), physicality and length. At South Carolina, he played with a tenacity and competitive edge that the Cowboys could really use. Then, at his Pro Day, Horn ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and posted a 41.5-inch vertical jump. The son of former receiver Joe Horn boasts all the physical tools a team looks for in a No. 1 cornerback.
But there are concerns about his game will transition to the NFL. While playing physical in man coverage is a good thing, Horn goes too far with it. By being so dependent on grabbing receivers and making early contact with them, Horn will draw a ton of flags at the next level. While it’s easier to reign that in than it is to spark a fire in a player, it’s still a cause for concern and will cause issues early in his career.
Surtain II is a safer bet and should be the No. 1 cornerback on the Cowboys’ draft board. Like Horn, his father had a very successful career in the NFL. Alabama’s top cornerback shut down opposing wide receivers in college, thriving thanks to his combination of size (6-foot-2), length, athleticism and instincts.
He isn’t much of a playmaker and there will be some rough moments for him as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL and the league’s emphasis on limiting contact. But Surtain II is a strong bet to become a high-end cornerback at the next level and he would pair nicely in a reunion with Trevon Diggs.