2020 NFL Draft: Early 1st-Round Favorites for the Dallas Cowboys

The month of April and the 2020 NFL Draft may still be a few months away, but it’s never too early to start familiarizing yourself with the players the Dallas Cowboys could target with their first-round pick. Luckily for you, I put together a list of players who have been linked to the Cowboys and the 17th pick so far.

Now, I think it’s important for me to point out these aren’t necessarily the players I believe the Dallas Cowboys will target in the first-round. Some of these players may be off the board before the Cowboys are on the clock, while others may see their draft stock rise or fall depending on what happens between now and Draft Day. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.

Let’s get started…

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

If the Dallas Cowboys choose to go with the best player available (BPA) approach in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Henry Ruggs III could very likely be the name they write down on their draft card. I personally love the idea. I believe he’s going to absolutely blow up the Scouting Combine this year and emerge as one the best wide receivers in this draft class.

Ruggs not only has world-class speed, but the required toolkit to be a dynamic playmaker at the next level. Unfortunately, I highly doubt the Cowboys go this direction. New Head Coach Mike McCarthy has never drafted a WR in the first-round and that’s a tendency he probably won’t break this year. The idea of an air attack with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Henry Ruggs III is fun to think about, but more than likely just a pipe dream.

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been known as a team who drafts defensive lineman in the first-round over the years, but that could change now with Mike McCarthy in the draft room. During his time with the Packers, 5 (6 if you include Clay Matthews) out of 12 of his first-round draft picks were defensive lineman. It’s a position he clearly values, which makes the selection of DT Javon Kinlaw a very real possibility.

Kinlaw is the big, disruptive DT former Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli would’ve absolutely coveted in his defensive front. I’m pretty sure new DC Mike Nolan will as well. It’s unknown right now if Nolan will stick with the 4-3 scheme Dallas currently deploys or switch to the 3-4, but fortunately Kinlaw can play in either an odd or even front. Regardless, I believe he has Pro Bowl potential, quite possibly as a rookie.

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

The Dallas Cowboys made it clear they want to upgrade the safety position last season when they tried to trade for Jamal Adams ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline and I don’t think that’s changed between now and then. They will probably revisit trying to acquire Adams via trade from the New York Jets in the offseason, but if that fails they could turn their attention to LSU Safety Grant Delpit. He is regarded as the top S prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Delpit (6’3″, 201) would come in and immediately upgrade the safety position next to Xavier Woods and to give the Cowboys a pair of versatile playmakers on the backend of their defense. Mike McCarthy drafted two safeties in the first-round during his time with the Packers for whatever that’s worth. He and the Cowboys will have to do their homework on Delpit though. He played better in 2018 compared to 2019, which is a bit of a concern.

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown potentially leaving via free agency, and with the down year Chidobe Awuzie had in 2019, cornerback is without a doubt a “need” position for the Dallas Cowboys. Personally, I wouldn’t mind them double dipping at the position in the 2020 NFL Draft. I think it could potentially start in the first-round with Kristian Fulton.

LSU has produced a lot of good cornerbacks over the years, however the Cowboys have been burned before by drafting a first-round former Tigers CB (Morris Claiborne). That shouldn’t stop them from taking Fulton though. He should step onto the field as a Day 1 starter as a rookie and help upgrade Dallas’ passing defense in the process. Hopefully he’s more Tre’Davious White and less Morris Claiborne though.

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

It has yet to be announced whether or not Mike Nolan will change the Dallas Cowboys defensive scheme to a 3-4 or stick with the 4-3, but one thing is for sure, they need someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. With the 17th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cowboys could be looking at two different kind of EDGE players, K’Lavon Chaisson out of LSU or Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State.

If this was the old coaching regime I think Gross-Matos would be the preferred EDGE player because he fits the preferred size parameters, but I think the new coaching regime would probably prefer Chaisson. He is not only more scheme diverse, but arguably the better player as well. I believe he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential and could turn into a Pro Bowl caliber player.

(Dark Horse) Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame

I personally don’t think there is a tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft worthy of being selected in the first-round, but I’m hearing rumblings former Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet is receiving that kind of buzz. He was a dual sport athlete (football and baseball) for the Fighting Irish, but just recently decided he wanted to forgo his remaining college eligibility to enter this year’s draft. So, it’s understandable if you’re not too familiar with as of yet.

When I studied Kmet I was immediately reminded of Blake Jarwin. He looks natural catching the ball and is release off the line of scrimmage is smooth whether it’s out of a three-point stance or when he’s split out wide. But, he leaves much to be desired as a blocker. Also, I think it’s important to know Mike McCarthy has never drafted a TE in the first-round and I don’t envision that changing this year either, regardless of the buzz surrounding Kmet right now.