Dallas Cowboys NFL draft picks 2021: Analysis for every selection

The 2021 NFL draft was held April 29 through May 1 and every Dallas Cowboys draft pick has been analyzed here.

After last season's virtual draft, Cleveland played host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.

Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player Dallas has selected will fit.

Analysis of every NFL pick | Updated NFL depth charts

Round 1, No. 12 overall: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

My take: Ideally, the Cowboys wanted to land a cornerback in the first round, but Carolina and Denver beat them to the punch at Nos. 8 and 9 by taking Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, respectively. That led owner and general manager Jerry Jones to make an in-division trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Cowboys were able to land an extra third-round pick to give them five selections inside the top 100. Athletically, there is no denying Parsons' talent. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and had 192 tackles in 26 games. He also had 6.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and five pass deflections. He made a quick impact at Penn State with 83 tackles, a school record for a freshman. Can he have the same impact for the Cowboys?

Any rust?: Parsons opted out of last season at Penn State to focus on his NFL training. On Tuesday, Jones said players that opted out are "compromised." "I'd much rather have seen the reps and the plays that they got." The lack of information, however, did not bother Jones too much after trading down, but there has to be some pause since Parsons' last game was Dec. 28, 2019. Of course, that game was at AT&T Stadium at the Cotton Bowl against Memphis when he tied a career high with 14 tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss.

Passing on line help: Even with big defensive needs, the Cowboys had an opportunity to take offensive lineman Rashawn Slater at No. 12 overall, but passed. They have had nothing but success in selecting run and pass blockers lately. Since 2011, they have drafted All-Pros Tyron Smith (2011), Travis Frederick (2013) and Zack Martin (2014) after not taking an offensive lineman in the first round since 1981. Slater could have moved in at the left guard spot this season, while understanding Smith has battled injuries the past five seasons. Smith has not played a full season since 2015 and missed 14 games in 2020 after undergoing neck surgery. Right tackle La'el Collins missed every game because of hip surgery.

Round 2, No. 44 overall: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky

My take: The Cowboys were beaten to the punch in the first round on Thursday when they lost out on Horn and Surtain. They might have been beaten to the punch in the second round with the Las Vegas Raiders trading ahead of them to take TCU safety Trevon Moehrig, but the Cowboys rebounded by taking Joseph.

He had five pass deflections and four interceptions at Kentucky in nine games before opting out of the final two games of the season. He started his career at LSU but transferred. Are there some focus worries? He has released six music albums and was suspended for the bowl game at LSU. But the Cowboys have yearned for speed and ball skills in the secondary. He has the speed (4.34 40-yard dash time) and he made plays last year before he opted out.

Last year, the Cowboys hit on Trevon Diggs, who had three interceptions as a rookie, in the second round of the 2020 draft. Coach Mike McCarthy said Diggs has the best ability to get the ball of any young cornerback he has been around. He has to hope Joseph fits the same in 2021.

Round 3, No. 75 overall: Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA

My take: The Cowboys made it three-for-three on defense with Odighizuwa following linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Kelvin Joseph as they look to improve their defense with coordinator Dan Quinn.

Finding a nose tackle might have been more of a need, but Odighizuwa (6-1, 282 pounds) is disruptive and played in a 3-4 scheme at UCLA. He had 27.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 43 games, and joins an interior group that includes 2019 second-rounder Trysten Hill, who is coming off a torn ACL, and 2020 third-rounder Neville Gallimore. In free agency, the Cowboys added Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban.

The Cowboys want to get bigger in the middle, but any help to a run defense that was abysmal is a good thing.

Round 3, No. 84 overall: Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa

My take: The re-make of the Cowboys' defense continues with Golston going at No. 84 in the pick gained from the Thursday trade with Philadelphia. It's the first time since 2012 the Cowboys' first four picks have been on defensive players.

Golston had 27 tackles for loss in 43 games and he had 12 sacks. While he does not possess great speed (4.8-second 40-yard dash), he has length and a high-end motor.

The defensive end group is getting crowded with DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tarell Basham Brent Urban, Dorance Armstrong and Bradlee Anae, especially if Micah Parsons is used as a rusher at times. But when Quinn believes a defense can never have enough pass-rushers, and if Golston can continue to develop, he could ultimately make the rotation.

Round 3, No. 99 overall: Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State

My take: Quinn has a type at cornerback dating back to his time with Seattle: tall and rangy. At 6-4, 183 pounds, Wright is tall and rangy. He had Brandon Browner (6-4) and Richard Sherman (6-3) with the Seahawks. If Wright comes anywhere close to producing like Sherman, the Cowboys will have one of the draft's biggest surprises.

In two years at Oregon State, Wright had five interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He is the second corner the Cowboys took Friday, joining second-rounder Kelvin Joseph. While Joseph was viewed as a second-round pick, most draftniks viewed Wright as a third-day prospect.

For the first time in the Jerry Jones' era, the Cowboys' first five picks have been defensive players. It's the first time that has happened since 1982.

Round 4, No. 115 overall: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

My take: The Cowboys nearly made Cox their final third-round pick on Friday and were able to get him in the fourth round, which might change some of the feelings folks had about the Cowboys’ draft so far. Cox started his career at North Dakota State before transferring to LSU where he was named a captain. He can cover tight ends and runners and has 26 pass deflections and nine interceptions. The Cowboys believe he can do a little bit of everything at the linebacker spot and he could develop into a starter after 2021.

Round 4, No. 138 overall: Josh Ball, OT, Marshall

My take: With questions regarding the long-term health of left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle La’el Collins missing last season with hip surgery, Ball could move into the mix as a tackle of the future. Ball started eight games at Marshall last season but missed the bowl game due to COVID-19. He started his career at Florida State but was found guilty of dating violence in 2018 and wasn't allowed to return to school. The Cowboys did their homework before making this pick, but this may have led to him falling this far. On the field, he is considered a good enough athlete and plays with an edge.

Round 5, No. 179 overall: Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford

My take: Receiver was not a need for the Cowboys with their top five players back from 2020, but Fehoko could push for one of the final two spots because of his size (6-4, 222 pounds) and speed (4.43-second 40). In six games, he had 37 catches for 574 yards and three touchdowns in 2020. He is good after the catch and averaged 23.6 yards per catch in 2019. He is older, turning 24 in November, but he will have a chance to win a roster spot or potentially get to the practice squad.

Round 6, No. 192 overall: Quinton Bohanna, DT, Kentucky

My take: When a run defense finishes 31st in the league, there has to be change. Expecting Bohanna to be the only part of the change is a bit much, but at 327 pounds he brings size the Cowboys have lacked. He was a four-year starter at Kentucky and had 59 tacklers, nine tackles for loss and two sacks. His presence could make life easier for Cowboys linebackers if he develops.

Round 6, No. 227 overall: Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

My take: The Cowboys loved Jaycee Horn entering the draft and would have liked to have selected him in the first round. Mukuamu was the starting cornerback opposite Horn at South Carolina. He fits the profile preferred by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn at 6-foot-4, 214 pounds and 34-inch arms. He also had seven interceptions and 17 pass deflections. He is the third cornerback the Cowboys have selected (Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright) so far. He could see some action at safety, a spot he played before he moved full time to corner.

Round 7, No. 238 overall: Matt Farniok, OG, Nebraska

My take: When putting together a 53-man roster, position flexibility matters a lot and Farniok started games at right tackle, guard and center. The Cowboys needed more interior depth with Joe Looney not yet re-signed and Tyler Biadasz viewed as the starting center, so he projects more likely to the middle of the line. He was a two-time captain at Nebraska, falling in line with leadership the Cowboys wanted to add.