With the Dallas Cowboys picking No. 28 in the first round of the NFL draft, the odds are against anybody predicting the selection, so don’t hold any pick against anybody if they turn out to be wrong.
That’s a nice way of saying if the Cowboys don’t select Taco Charlton, be kind to me.
On our NFL Nation mock draft Tuesday night, I selected Charlton for the Cowboys, and here’s why:
As the defensive ends and cornerbacks kept coming off the board, panic started to set in. Six defensive ends were gone, from Myles Garrett at No. 1 to Malik McDowell at No. 22. Three cornerbacks were off the board, from Marshon Lattimore at No. 6 to Kevin King at No. 26.
I was considering Charlton and Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt at defensive end and Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey and Southern Cal’s Adoree Jackson at cornerback.
All four players visited The Star before the draft, which seems to be a prerequisite for the Cowboys’ top picks. Since 2004, the only top picks not to visit the Cowboys leading up to the draft are DeMarcus Ware (2005) and Morris Claiborne (2012).
Then I went through the position needs.
There's an argument for a cornerback over defensive end. The Cowboys can get through a game with the defensive ends currently on the roster: Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Benson Mayowa and Charles Tapper. They are a little more hard-pressed at cornerback with Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown the only players with game experience.
If I took a cornerback at No. 28, then it would have been Jackson.
But I went back to the depth of the draft. There will be cornerbacks available with the Cowboys’ second-round pick (No. 60 overall).
In 2014, the Cowboys traded up to No. 34 overall to take Lawrence because they felt like he was the last true right defensive end ready to play. They gave up their second- and third-round picks to do so. That’s a lot of draft capital. They shouldn’t want to give that up again.
That left the decision down to Charlton or Watt.
Both succeeded in the Big 10 but were one-year starters. Charlton’s sack totals increased every year, including 9.5 in 2015. Watt had 11.5 sacks last season. Charlton is bigger at 6-foot-5, 277 pounds. Watt, at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, is more of a tweener, perhaps a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
To me, Charlton is just the better fit for the Cowboys. Lawrence is entering the final year of his deal. Crawford is entering a critical contract year, and if he does not perform well, the Cowboys could look to move on in 2018. Irving is scheduled to be a restricted free agent.
A draft is not only about the current year. It’s also about the future.
In Charlton, the Cowboys would get a pass-rusher who can help know and grow in the future.