The 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2022 NFL Draft targets. The Dallas Cowboys are the subject of today’s 2022 NFL Draft profile.
Not many knew what to expect from the Dallas Cowboys this season after being without Dak Prescott for a majority of the season. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s seat began to heat up and the team had as good of a shot as any in the NFC East to win the division.
Prescott looked outstanding to begin the year. There was a case for him to be a dark horse candidate to win the MVP. However, after suffering a calf injury late against the New England Patriots, his play began to decline. Overall Prescott had a solid season throwing for 4,449 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. His 37 passing touchdowns broke the Dallas Cowboys’ single-season record.
After a rough 2020 season, Ezekiel Elliott looked slightly better in a healthy Dallas Cowboys offense. He rushed for 1,002 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns this past season. His backup Tony Pollard looked more explosive than Elliott throughout the season. Dallas’ backfield became a committee with Pollard rushing for a career-high 719 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
This season Dallas did not have all three of their top receivers on the field at the same time often. Michael Gallup missed extended time during the season because of a calf injury and then tore his ACL in Week 17. He finished the season with 445 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Second-year receiver CeeDee Lamb led the team in receiving with 1,102 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns. Lamb was voted to his first Pro Bowl this past season. Amari Cooper finished the season with 865 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Tight end Dalton Schultz emerged as a legitimate weapon for Dallas this season posting 808 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns.
Dallas’ defense actually carried their team down the stretch. 2021 first-round pick Micah Parsons won defensive rookie of the year and was a candidate for defensive player of the year. He finished the year with 84 combined tackles, 13 sacks, and three forced fumbles. He was named First-Team All-Pro despite it being his first year in the league. Second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs led the league with 11 interceptions. Diggs was also named First Team All-Pro last season.
This offseason has not been kind to the Cowboys. Following their loss to the 49ers in the first round they didn’t have any major gaps on their roster. Early in the offseason, Dallas traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns for only a fifth-round pick. The Cowboys also cut starting right tackle La’El Collins who later signed a three-year $21 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. Free-agent pass rusher Randy Gregory originally agreed to sign a five-year $70 million deal to remain in Dallas. However, after reading the fine print in the contract Gregory changed his mind and signed that same deal with the Denver Broncos. A couple of other free agents that Dallas lost include Connor Williams (two years $14.035 million with the Miami Dolphins), Cedrick Wilson (three years $22 million with the Miami Dolphins), Greg Zuerlein (one year $2 million with the New York Jets), and Keanu Neal. (one year $1.27 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
The Cowboys have not been entirely quiet this offseason either. They resigned a couple of free agents including Dalton Schultz ($10.931 million Franchise Tag), Michael Gallup (five years $57.5 million), (Dorance Armstrong (two years $12 million), Jayron Kearse (two years $10 million), Pro Bowl punter Bryan Anger (three years $9 million), and 2017 first-round pick Leighton Vander-Esch (one year $2 million). Dallas also signed a few notable free agents including James Washington (one year $1.19 million), and Dante Fowler Jr. (one year $3 million).
2022 NFL Picks
Dallas will have nine picks to use in the 2022 NFL Draft
First Round (one pick): No. 24
Second Round (one pick): No. 56
Third Round (one pick): No. 88
Fourth Round (one pick): No. 129
Fifth Round (four picks): No. 155, No. 167, No. 176, No. 179
Sixth Round (one picks): No. 193
Seventh Round (zero picks):
Wide Receiver- Trading away Amari Cooper created a huge void on this offense. The team likely expected to retain Cedrick Wilson in free agency to fill Cooper’s role. However, now the Cowboys need to add to a group of receivers that is not nearly as talented as they were a season ago.
Edge Rusher- Even though Dallas resigned Dorance Armstrong and brought in Dante Fowler Jr., the Cowboys need a starting-caliber edge rusher. This player will line up opposite DeMarcus Lawerence and try to replace Randy Gregory.
Interior Offensive Line- Connor Williams wasn’t great, but now that he is gone the Cowboys need to add another guard to start in his place or compete with Connor McGovern for the job. On top of that Dallas could look to add a player to replace Tyler Biadasz at center. Future Hall of Fame guard Zack Martin will also be 31 years old next season.
Offensive Tackle- The Cowboys could have added an offensive tackle anyways to backup 31-year-old left tackle Tyron Smith and possibly replace him down the line. Now the team needs to add a tackle to replace La’El Collins and compete with Terence Steele for the starting right tackle job.
Defensive Tackle- Dallas has invested a Day 2 selection into the defensive tackle position in each of the past three seasons. Osa Odighizuwa had a promising rookie season, Neville Gallimore is solid, and Trysten Hill is just bad. It couldn’t hurt to add another player into their rotation who can compete for a starting job next season.
Safety- Jayron Kearse emerged as a starter for the Cowboys this past season and earned his new contract. However, the Cowboys should look for another safety to rotate with Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker for the Cowboys’ starting free safety job.
Tight End- Dalton Schultz deserves the one-year $10.931 million deal that he received from the Franchise Tag. But Dallas needs to add another tight end to line up with Schultz or possibly replace him if he were to leave the team next offseason.
Kicker- The Cowboys cut former Pro Bowl kicker Greg Zuerlein early in the offseason. As it currently stands the only kicker on the Cowboys’ roster is Chris Naggar who spent a majority of last season on Cleveland’s practice squad. They should add another kicker to compete with Naggar for the starting job in camp.
2022 Draft Targets
Pick No. 24: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been very vocal about his plans for the upcoming draft. They could look to trade up in the early rounds and plan on taking an offensive lineman in the first round. It is unlikely that any of the top-4 tackles in this year’s class fall to the 24th pick. However one of the multiple possible first-round guard prospects could be available for Dallas’ first-round selection.
The Cowboys have done their homework on local prospect Kenyon Green. At Texas A&M, Green showed the versatility to line up all over the offensive line. He would be an outstanding fit for Dallas because they have a few voids at a couple of positions that Green could possibly address if he was to land here.
If selected by the Cowboys, Green would be expected to play at left guard for Dallas right away. However, he could compete for the starting right tackle job as weel consider he played right tackle this past season. Even if Green starts his career at guard, he could transition to the right tackle position within his first few seasons.
Pick No. 54: Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Dallas expected Randy Gregory to be on their roster at this point of the offseason. They were panicking when they gave Dorance Armstrong a multi-year extension. Then Dan Quinn reunited with Dante Fowler Jr. who Quinn coached at Florida and with the Atlanta Falcons. It is also worth noting that Dallas did draft Chauncey Golston in the third round last offseason. But none of those players could be counted to start or be long-term options to play along Dallas’ defensive line.
Cincinnati edge rusher Myjai Sanders feels like a natural fit in Dan Quinn’s defense. He is an extremely athletic pass rusher who primarily uses speed to beat offensive tackles. Even though he did not have the breakout year many expected this past season, he still was extremely productive during his time at Cincinnati and should be a Day 2 selection.
If Sanders were to be selected by the Cowboys he would likely compete with the other pass rushers on the rosters for a starting role. Realistically he would start off as a rotational player with his snaps increasing throughout the season while he develops as a pro. Sanders has an extremely high ceiling that could match what Randy Gregory has been at his peak for Dallas the past few seasons.
Pick No. 88: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
There are a lot of talented receivers in this year’s draft class. This could mean that the Cowboys might play the board and possibly wait to address the receiver position. The team already invested a 2020 first-round pick in CeeDee Lamb, franchise-tagged tight end Dalton Schultz, and gave Michael Gallup a five-year extension. So the Cowboys could afford to wait on a receiver because whoever they take could be their fourth option in the passing game.
One receiver who could interest the Cowboys in the third round is Boise State receiver Khalil Shakir. The Cowboys have drafted multiple players from Boise State throughout the years. A few notable players include Leighton Vander-Esch (2017), Cedrick Wilson (2017), DeMarcus Lawerence (2014), and Tyrone Crawford (2012), Orlando Scandrick (2008).
Shakir could be Dallas’ primary slot receiver immediately which would kick CeeDee Lamb to the outside permanently. He may not carve out a large role in Dallas’ offense, but he will have a consistent role that he could maintain in this offense long-term similar to what they envisioned for Cedrick Wilson. Shakir’s outstanding character should boost him into the later picks of Day 2.