The Dallas Cowboys are coming off of their first losing season since 2015, but there are reasons to be optimistic for 2021. Not only is star quarterback Dak Prescott back near 100% health after suffering a gruesome ankle injury last season, but the franchise that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft finally committed to him, as the two sides agreed to a four-year deal worth a maximum value of $160 million featuring a whopping $126 million in guaranteed money.
With Prescott back and finally off of the franchise tag, the Cowboys should automatically be better in 2021, but they have bigger goals than just improving. The Cowboys are a franchise that has the Super Bowl in mind every year, and this upcoming season is no exception. Dallas has some work to do on its roster before Week 1, but this team could make some impressive additions in the coming days.
On Wednesday, Prescott joined CBS Sports' "Tiki and Tierney" to discuss the 2021 NFL Draft and the upcoming season in general. When asked about the Cowboys' draft plans, Prescott said he would imagine the front office looks to bolster the defense.
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"We've got some great leaders," said Prescott. "I'm trusting the front office and the people who do their job, they know what they're talking about. I think it will be a heavy defensive draft for us. I think it's obvious you go defense and make our team better on that side."
The Cowboys allowed an average of 386.4 yards of total offense per game last season, which ranked No. 23 in the NFL, and had the second-worst run defense in the league with an average of 158.8 rushing yards allowed per game. Looking over the roster, Dallas has needs at cornerback and on the defensive line, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys couldn't take a linebacker with their No. 10 overall pick in the draft. Three of our four CBS NFL writers have Dallas taking either cornerback Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama or Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina with its first pick, while Pete Prisco has the Cowboys taking Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.
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That first pick is important, but it isn't everything. Dallas will look to fill needs and find value in all seven rounds of the draft, but expect plenty of defensive players to be joining the Cowboys by next week. In his team-specific seven-round mock draft, CBS Sports' Patrik Walker took a total of seven defensive players with the Cowboys' 10 picks, including Surtain II at No. 10 overall.
The 2021 NFL Draft is a great opportunity for a team to improve, but Prescott knows that the pressure to compete for a championship is always going to be there -- and that's the only way he would ever want it.
"It's challenging, but you have to embrace that," Prescott said of expectations. "I see pressure as a privilege. High expectations create high results. I only know the Cowboy Way and that's the only way I want to know it. You're expected to win every game. You're expected to go make a deep run and if you don't do that and win a championship, it's a fail. I love it. I'm thankful to have it and be the quarterback of this team."