by Dallas Cowboys Mailbag, David Helman & Rob Phillips
Now that the draft is over and we loaded up on defense, what do you feel this team still needs to get them to the playoffs? We are going to be really young on defense and a veteran free agent on that side of the ball would help this team in a huge way. Any ideas on who that player might be from the available free agents still left? Thanks - RANDY HEICK / WEST LIBERTY, IA
David: The No. 1 rule of thumb is "never say never," but I really feel like that part of the equation is finished. Safety is the obvious problem spot, but they signed Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse to pair with Donovan Wilson, and Keanu Neal has the flexibility to fill that role, as well. I really don't expect to see them invest much else, so I think we'll just have to hope that these small investments work out better than others have. Fortunately, I firmly believe that a healthy offense has the firepower to carry this team to the playoffs, provided there is marginal improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
Rob: Not saying the Cowboys are necessarily done addressing defense, but cap space is tight right now. That's a big reason they were motivated to use all 11 picks to infuse the roster with young talent on cap-friendly contracts. Bottom line, if the offense can stay relatively healthy this season - yes, I realize there are no guarantees - then the defense just needs to be solid for the team to make the playoffs. Keep those takeaways coming and figure out a way to stop the run way more consistently. It might take a couple offseasons for Dan Quinn's defensive vision to fully take shape. Yes, they will be young in some spots. But the biggest impact might be a scheme in which guys have more of a comfort level. Remember, personnel wise, the 2019 defense wasn't drastically different from 2020.
After seeing both corners go off the board right before the Cowboys picked at No. 10, do you think they should have been more aggressive and tried to trade up for Caleb Farley or at least Trevon Moehrig later on? It's obviously early to tell how Kelvin Joseph will do and there are some questions about Farley, but Moehrig would have been an immediate contributor. - JONATHAN CAGLEY / WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
David: I am the president of the Draft A Safety Fan Club, so I can't believe I'm about to say this - but no. I think Trevon Moehrig is a wonderful player, but cornerback is a more important position and the Cowboys' need at corner was much more dire. Kelvin Joseph comes with some question marks of his own, but he has tremendous upside. In a perfect world, I would have preferred to draft Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain, but the world isn't perfect. I don't have any problems with the way they handled that. They needed to make sure they came out of this draft with a talented cornerback, and they did.
Rob: The simplest answer is you can't address everything with those first two picks. Cornerback wasn't a big free agent focus besides re-signing Jourdan Lewis, and the Cowboys felt they couldn't wait past Round 2 to draft an impact corner. That's obviously the hope with Kelvin Joseph. Remember, the club did sign three safeties in free agency. Keanu Neal is viewed as a linebacker right now, but Damontae Kazee has also played for Quinn. If he's all the way back from the Achilles injury, I would predict he starts next to Donovan Wilson this year.