In allocating draft resources, would Dallas Cowboys go defensive tackle at No. 24?

Georgia's Jordan Davis is the top-ranked defensive tackle in the 2022 draft class by Scouts Inc. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas -- In discussing the reason for trading receiver Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones potentially offered up a hint at their draft strategy as well.

“Amari is a great player. He's a great player, not a good one. He's one of the top players,” Jones told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida. “We need to get that much. We need to help that player if we can allocate that much money to him. OK? And we made a decision that that allocation should be better spent.”

It was a polite way of saying Cooper was not worth, in the team’s view, the $20 million base salary he was due in 2022.

Whether Cooper’s drop-off in productivity in 2021 was because of his play, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s scheme, quarterback Dak Prescott’s decision-making or poor offensive line play doesn’t really matter to Jones. Was he worth the $20 million? The Cowboys decided he wasn’t, and whether they are right or wrong will be answered this season by how Cooper is replaced.

As the Cowboys get ready to make the 24th overall pick in the first round later this month, allocation is a keyword.

Like everything with the draft, nothing is black and white. There are shades of gray when it comes to allocation.

In 2016, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall, a high price for a position (running back) that generally does not have a long shelf life. They took Elliott to help prolong Tony Romo’s career, and then the quarterback never started a game with Elliott because of a preseason back injury.

Also, by taking Elliott so high, the Cowboys were married to him for a second contract, and now Elliott’s $90 million contract signed in 2019 looks bloated. The Cowboys could have selected cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who recently told The Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark that the Cowboys assured him he would be their selection.

In 2020 and ’21, the Cowboys did not need to draft a first-round receiver (especially after paying Cooper) or linebacker (especially with Jaylon Smith in the middle of his second contract). But in the first round of those two drafts, they selected CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons, who ultimately made Cooper and Smith expendable.

The Cowboys’ needs now are obvious: offensive line, receiver, tight end, defensive line and linebacker.

They must get starters or major role players at all four spots, and while pick No. 24 is too high for a tight end, it’s not for any other position.

But what about defensive tackle?

While it seems as if the club’s philosophy has only recently been to devalue nose tackles, the Cowboys have not used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle since taking Russell Maryland No. 1 overall in 1991.

Among their top national pre-draft visitors to The Star is Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. He is a behemoth (6-foot-6, 341 pounds). He eats up blockers. He was a star among stars on a defense that could have at least four first-round picks in a few weeks.

But would he be worth the first-round allocation for the Cowboys?

Over the past three years, the Cowboys’ starting nose tackles have played between 38.1% and 44.3% of the snaps on the season. While it can be argued Carlos Watkins, Antwaun Woods and Christian Covington will not be mistaken for Davis, the Cowboys use their sub-package defense a lot more than their base defense.

Davis had two sacks last year at Georgia.

“Jordan Davis has the size and power of an interior disruptor, who can create havoc against the run game,” ESPN analyst Matt Bowen said. “The question is in terms of draft value points to his deployment in pass-game situations. Davis wasn’t used in sub-package sets at Georgia. Does he display enough pass-rush traits that can be developed with pro coaching to play a three-down role in the NFL?”

Would the Cowboys change their process? Is Davis such a superior run defender that it would trump his lack of pass rush? Does he have more pass-rush skill than he exhibited at Georgia because he wasn’t asked to do it?

By bringing Davis to The Star, the Cowboys have at least attempted to get the answers to those questions.

But will they make the allocation if he is available?

If they did, they’d go against their history.