Cowboys owner Jerry Jones typically makes the news every couple of weeks, and this time the story is that he is “infatuated” with Florida TE prospect Kyle Pitts and wants to draft him at #10.
Well, join the club, Jerry. Everybody loves this guy. In my opinion, he’s the Chase Young of this year’s draft–an extreme athletic and physical outlier with the football skills to match, who represents the single greatest pound-for-pound football prospect in the entire draft.
Jones is not going to get Pitts at the 10th pick. He’s going to have to trade up if he really wants Kyle Pitts, and Atlanta’s #4 pick is only way to guarantee you get Pitts.
So we’ll see how much Jerry Jones really wants Kyle Pitts over the coming weeks: if he trades up to 4, then he clearly wants him badly.
But in the meantime, people are bashing Jerry for ignoring his team needs. “Jerry, are you, crazy? You need to draft defense! Your defense STUNK last year, and you already have tons of offensive talent!”
You think Jerry Jones doesn’t know that? You think he doesn’t know how bad the Cowboys’ defense was last year? He is fully aware.
But he’s also clearly a “Draft the best player available” guy. Which is what every GM should be, and I keep saying this and will continue saying it until I’m blue in the face.
There is nothing wrong with taking the best available player. Worst case scenario, you have a good or potentially really good football player on your team. The horror!
The worst case when you draft for “need’ (aka REACH) is you pick a guy who busts. Because you’re drafting a guy based on the fact that you need a guy at that position, not because you think he’s a great talent.
Last year, Jerry Jones drafted CeeDee Lamb, who was the best player available at the time the Cowboys were drafting. The Cowboys didn’t need a wide receiver as they already had Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but Jerry saw Lamb as a player too good to pass up. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. CeeDee Lamb was a great prospect and he’s already a really good NFL wide receiver. He’s going to be a great player someday in the near future and will have a long and productive career.
What is so wrong with that? Do you really think the Cowboys were going to find a defensive player capable of turning their whole defense around at pick 17, where they took Lamb? The Raiders took Damon Arnette, an Ohio State cornerback, at pick 19. He was the first defensive pick after the Cowboys took Lamb at 17. The Raiders were criticized for reaching on Arnette, who wasn’t viewed by most as a first round talent. And after the season, Raiders GM Mike Mayock basically called him out for not having a good enough work ethic.
I’d say CeeDee Lamb was a better pick.
Maybe you could say the Cowboys should’ve taken K’Lavon Chaisson, the LSU DE who went to the Jags at pick 20. He started 3 games in 2020 and finished with 19 total tackles, 3 TFLs and 1 sack on the season. Chaisson isn’t a bust–and neither is Arnette at this point–but JagsWire said Chaisson’s rookie season “may not have been what the Jags were hoping for.”
This is why I say teams should just take the best guy available.
Sometimes a situation arises where you’re like the Bengals and you desperately need an offensive tackle, and Penei Sewell, the best offensive lineman in the draft, will probably be available to you at the 5th pick. You should absolutely take him if you’re the Bengals. Sometimes it just works out in your favor where the best available player is a position you need to fill.
But don’t force the issue.
I like the way Jerry Jones drafts, at least offensive players. I like the fact that he actually seems like he watches college football, because with some GMs, it feels like they just don’t watch college football at all.
Kyle Pitts is the best non-QB in the draft. Every GM should covet him. He’s literally a hybrid TE-WR, too big to be covered by a DB and too fast to be covered by a linebacker. He has the potential to be one of the most unguardable freak athletes in the league, like a mix of Travis Kelce and Julio Jones. You can line him up at tight end or wide receiver–he’s like a new breed of football player.
He just gets open and makes plays. That’s all he did at Florida. His catch radius is insane.
The Cowboys haven’t had a great tight end since Jason Witten in his heyday. Jerry Jones knows the value of a great tight end. He just paid Dak Prescott a ludicrious sum of money. Forgive the guy for wanting to surround his crown jewel QB with as much talent as possible.
Drafting for need puts you at a disadvantage because you’re by definition willing to pass on better players for the sake of filling a position of need.
As we went over in an earlier post, it’s hard as hell to draft in the NFL. Even in the top 10, you only have about a 54% chance of drafting a Pro Bowl player. Since 2000, 42.7% of first round picks have been Pro Bowlers. And the numbers drop off dramatically after the first round: only 18.9% of second rounders since 2000 have made the Pro Bowl, and only 11.1% of third rounders.
It is hard enough to find a Pro Bowler from the pool of all available players at every position. It’s exponentially harder when you narrow it down to just one position group.
The name of the game with drafting is to simply not whiff on picks. By limiting yourself to only one position, you’re increasing the likelihood that you whiff on your pick. It’s a fool’s errand.
Teams should draft the best available player, period. Because Jerry already has a QB, the best player in the draft from the Cowboys’ perspective is Kyle Pitts. There’s nothing illogical about pursuing him.