The Dallas Cowboys bowed out in shocking fashion against the Green Bay Packers in the Super Wild Card Round of the 2024 NFL Playoffs, which has led to the controversial decision to retain Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
The Cowboys have the 24th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, with the combine scheduled for this March (defensive linemen and linebackers report on March 2).
On paper, the Cowboys’ roster is stacked with high level talent. Contracts of key players including QB Dak Prescott, DE DeMarcus Lawrence and G Zach Martin are scheduled to come off the books in 2025.
The Cowboys should head into this year’s draft with plenty of options for improving the team and a likely focus on drafting the best player available.
It’s still early and we’ll know a lot more after the combine, but here are five players the Cowboys should consider:
1. Terrion Arnold, Alabama-
The Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback is a rising star who is still growing into his considerable skill set.
The Cowboys need depth in the secondary to prevent what happened against Romeo Doubs, Jordan Love and the Packers this past week. Arnold would add size at 6-feet, 196 pounds and leadership skills.
2. JJ McCarthy, Michigan-
The Wolverines quarterback had a relatively quiet day vs. the Washington Huskies in the National Championship Game, throwing for just 140 yards on 10-of-18 passing.
McCarthy is way more than a game manager. He’s been described by some analysts as a more athletic Kirk Cousins, but his impact goes beyond what Cousins brings to the table as he often make Houdini-like scrambles for key first downs as he did vs. the Huskies late in the game.
He also never really had a top flight home run threat like CeeDee Lamb of the Cowboys, adding to the intrigue behind potentially taking the La Grange Park, Illinois.
Above all else, McCarthy is a winner, he takes care of the football and he has the “it” factor that few other quarterbacks possess. He weathered the storm against Alabama in the Rose Bowl, engineering a game winning drive and throwing the tying touchdown pass to Roman Wilson late.
With only one loss in his career, expect McCarthy to rocket up draft boards. The Cowboys may have to trade up to get him, but it would be 100% worth their while.
3. Amarius Mims, Georgia-
The 6-foot-7, 340 pound Georgia Bulldogs offensive tackle prospect would add much needed youth and depth to the Cowboys’ offensive line.
The Cowboys finished 14th in the nation in rushing last season, a number not befitting of the rushing talent of premier back Tony Pollard.
The Cowboys could get Mims whether they stay put or trade back in the trade, depending on how the combine stats shake out.
4. Cooper DeJean, Iowa-
DeJean could slide to the back of the first round due to an injury he suffered late in the season.
Whoever gets the talented Iowa Hawkeyes defense back is going to be overjoyed at the pick. DeJean can play cornerback or safety. His hybrid skills in the secondary and on special teams are exactly what the Cowboys need to become more of a big play defense with Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong getting after it in the front seven.
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DeJean could become the best kick returner in the NFL which would add a new dimension to Coach Mike McCarthy’s team.
5. Jer’Zahn Newton, Illinois-
An athletic and agile defensive tackle, Newton has the size to hold up in the interior along with the playmaking skills to slide over, defend the edge and rush the passer.
The first round of this year’s draft is loaded so it’s not likely Newton will slide down to pick number 24. It is highly possible with so many fast risers declaring late from College Football Playoff teams.
Newton is a must-grab if he slides to pick 24, and worth trading up for because he would bolster the Cowboys’ d-line immediately.