Cowboys have a first-round pick (unlike last year), it's sure to have some sizzle

play
Is there any chance the Bengals trade the No. 1 pick? (1:51)

Adam Schefter is vehement that Joe Burrow will be the first pick of the draft and expects the Bengals to not move the pick. (1:51)

FRISCO, Texas -- There is no way to label the Dallas Cowboys' 2019 NFL draft class as anything other than disappointing.

The Cowboys' top pick, second-round defensive tackle Trysten Hill, was inactive for more games than he played (seven) and was credited by the coaches with six tackles in 121 snaps. Guard Connor McGovern, a third-round pick, missed the season with a partially torn pectoral muscle.

Running back Tony Pollard, drafted in the fourth round, was the only rookie to show some juice, with two 100-yard rushing games backing up Ezekiel Elliott. There is a lot to like about Pollard because of the multiple roles he can fill.

After that? There wasn't much to get excited about.

But a lot of that disappointment can be traced to what the Cowboys didn't have in 2019 -- a first-round pick -- because of the trade for Amari Cooper.

Having a first-round pick in 2020 -- the No. 17 overall selection -- does not guarantee a successful draft for Dallas. It sure does help, though.

Since 2010, every first-round pick of the Cowboys except Morris Claiborne (2012) and Taco Charlton (2017) played in a Pro Bowl: Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Elliott and Leighton Vander Esch.

The past five times the Cowboys have not had a top pick, they had substandard drafts.

  • In 2009, Dallas didn't have a first-round pick because of the trade with the Detroit Lions for Roy Williams, and the results were disastrous with a "special teams" draft that did not produce one long-term player.

  • In 2004, the Cowboys moved out of the first round in a trade with the Buffalo Bills that netted them an extra first-round pick in 2005. The Cowboys selected running back Julius Jones in the second round when they could have had Steven Jackson had they remained in the first round. Their second- and third-round picks, Jacob Rogers and Stephen Peterman, played a combined five games as Cowboys.

  • In 2000 and 2001, Dallas did not have first-round picks because of a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for Joey Galloway, which played a big part as to why the Cowboys were 5-11 in each season from 2000 to 2002.

As the Cowboys look at who will be available at No. 17, they can truly think about the best player available because they have legitimate needs almost everywhere on the roster.

The only positions that can truly be removed from consideration are quarterback (Dak Prescott), running back (Elliott), offensive line (Smith, Frederick, Martin, La'el Collins) and potentially wide receiver with Cooper and Randall Cobb set to be unrestricted free agents.

An argument can be made that each level of the defense can be considered the Cowboys' biggest need.

They are likely to lose their 2019 sack leader, defensive end Robert Quinn, to free agency and have no idea if or when Randy Gregory can play again.

Defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Christian Covington are set to be free agents, as are Michael Bennett and Kerry Hyder, who played end and tackle in 2019. Defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who is recovering from hip surgery that ended his season early, is set to make $8 million in the final year of his deal.

At linebacker, Sean Lee and Joe Thomas are set to be free agents, and Vander Esch is returning from neck surgery. While the belief is Vander Esch will be fine, the Cowboys have to protect themselves. They selected Vander Esch in the first round in 2018 in part because of the injuries to Lee and Jaylon Smith.

The secondary is in a state of flux as well with Jones, safety Jeff Heath and cornerback Anthony Brown set to be free agents. Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis and safety Xavier Woods are set to be free agents after the 2020 season.

In his first mock draft, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the Cowboys selecting Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson. The good news: he had six interceptions in three seasons and the Cowboys need somebody who can take the ball away in the secondary.

It makes sense for the reasons already stated. The good news -- or bad depending on the point of view -- is the Cowboys have plenty of options at No. 17.