SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys offense has been the talk of the offseason thus far, whether it is discussion about what they should do with starting quarterback Dak Prescott or how will their offense look without OC Kellen Moore, that side of the ball has been the priority.
With the NFL draft coming at the end of April, and the combination of pro-days, private workouts and interviews yet to come, the biggest additions to the Cowboys offense on the field will arrive during the 2023 NFL draft.
Despite the abrupt end to the Cowboys season with a brutal 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, you cannot be a prisoner of the moment.
The Cowboys are still loaded with talent on offense, with a fringe top 10 signal caller that could use an extra piece to raise the ceiling of what his offense could be. Luckily for both Dak and head coach Mike McCarthy, the wide receiver casserole that is the 2023 NFL draft class is both QB-friendly, but also, versatile enough to satisfy the cravings of both fans and personnel surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.
3. Josh Downs, wide receiver, North Carolina Tarheels
Outlets like Pro Football Focus have Downs ranked as the #4 overall WR prospect in this class, and that is far from an oversell. Downs ability to change directions and burst in and out of his breaks is among the best in a loaded wideout class.
Despite standing at 5'10" and less than 180 pounds, Downs wins with his burst, strong hands and physicality. His 13 contested catches last season ranked among the top 30 in college football, which is an asset that a sometimes stagnant Cowboys offense will surely utilize instantly.
With a guy like Downs, you can expect a slot wide receiver that can win in multiple ways, an excellent stutter and go kind of guy. His biggest concern for me, is his lack of versatility in where he can play along the perimeter.
Downs will only be a slot wideout in the NFL, and the Cowboys do love to move around CeeDee Lamb a bit. Offensively, putting your best players in positions to succeed is key as a coach, but I do not know if McCarthy and company would like to push their chips on the table for a guy that can be one-dimensional in terms of his position flexibility.
Yet, do not mistake his lack of size or positional stiffness as too much of a sore spot. Downs is still an uber talented athlete that can win at every level of the football field. He is primarily a first and second level type of receiving target, and an option that Cowboys fans would appreciate right away.
2. Nathaniel 'Tank' Dell, Wide Receiver, Houston Cougars
Tank Dell does in fact have similar size issues to Josh Downs, but provides a bit more positional versatility at the same position.
What ranks Dell over Downs for me is not only that factor, but he has some of the best footwork in the entire class. Take a look here during last month's Senior Bowl and watch the variety of stutter, split release and double-leg press releases that Dell uses to get open in one-on-one drills.
Additionally, his knack for forcing opposing DB's to play at his pace as a route-runner, throttle down and create separation at the snap of a finger is what is so impressive for a guy that knows how to win via his skillset and is not ashamed of it.
This is heavy praise, but Dell's release package, ability to create separation using footwork, position-flex and ability to make plays at every level of the field reminds me a bit of Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson.
For the Cowboys, they could use a chess piece like Dell that will win at every level of the field, can be pushed inside and outside, but above all else, make plays and find ways to get open consistently.
1. Zay Flowers, wide receiver, Boston College Eagles
In 2022, the Dallas Cowboys used CeeDee Lamb in the slot over 53% of the time, marking the highest percentage of snaps in the slot since his rookie season, where he primarily played.
Adding a guy like Zay Flowers who, despite also being undersized, has dominated college football on the outside primarily but can shift inside and get busy, would be a fantastic move for this Cowboys offense.
Flowers ranked in the top 30 for both deep catches and deep yards last season, but more impressive than that was his 6.4 yards after catch rate in 2022. He's a superb athlete with real home-run-hitting ability, can take a five-yard catch and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown.
He is the best contested catch wideout in this group with 41 throughout his career, he has the most position-flex out of the three wideouts mentioned, but also, is the best overall athlete out of this group. His unique ability to win by methodically breaking down defensive backs with his footwork, beating press coverage in a variety of ways using techniques like attacking DB's wrists or getting on top of his opponent, he really is the full package at WR.
Above all, he is the most Dak Prescott-friendly option out of this group because he can make plays after the catch, he can win contested catch situations, and adds an element of explosivity more than his two peers mentioned.
Concluding, the Cowboys will be in good shape if they add one of these sound prospects in round one of the 2023 NFL draft, all of which can contribute right away in a secondary role, complimenting star wideout CeeDee Lamb.