The Cowboys lost Chidobe Awuzie in free agency, but re-signed Jourdan Lewis to a three-year deal. Even though Caleb Farley is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, his recent back surgery and overall injury history could mean that Surtain (or Jaycee Horn) will be the CB1 in four weeks.
The Cowboys had the 11th-ranked pass defense (227.6 YPG allowed) in 2020, but much of that can be attributed to the fact that only the Patriots (494) faced fewer pass attempts than the Cowboys (513). Only three teams allowed a worse TD-to-INT ratio than the Cowboys (3.4 TD:INT) and only the Lions (1 TD/14.66 Att.) surrendered a passing touchdown per fewer pass attempts than the Cowboys secondary (15.09).
Long story short, this pick is likely to be a cornerback especially if the Cowboys have their choice at the position. The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Surtain II has an NFL pedigree (father was a three-time Pro Bowl CB that also coached him in high school) with outstanding size (6-2, 202) and length that new coordinator Dan Quinn will covet.
Jourdan Lewis is back in Dallas, but the Cowboys still want to upgrade the cornerback position opposite Trevon Diggs. Perhaps it's Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley, though his back procedure might cause concern. Instead, I'm tabbing Horn, a speedy and versatile press corner. The Cowboys gave up 34 passing touchdowns last season, so expect them to address that area here -- unless they opt to help protect the $160 million man, QB Dak Prescott, with one of the class's top tackles.
As tempting as it might be to improve the offense, the Cowboys can't afford to ignore their holes on defense. Help at all levels is needed, but the secondary is the most glaring spot after the loss of cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Horn's stock has risen considerably since the start of the 2020 season, with some even arguing for him to be the top cornerback in this class.
There is a clear distinction in who the top three cornerbacks are this year, but it is not as clear which one will go off the board first between Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley and Jaycee Horn. Dallas goes with the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year even while opposing offenses typically avoided throwing at him. At 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, he has the prototypical size and speed combination NFL scouts covet at the position.
Injuries and age are starting to erode what was once the Cowboys greatest strength, it's offensive line. It will need to be addressed to protect their investment in franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. However, the defense was plain awful in 2020. Surtain, a former five-star recruit, has NFL DNA (father was an All-Pro corner who played 11 seasons) and prototypical traits.
The Cowboys take the same tack as the Falcons, grabbing an aggressive and physical corner with an early pick in their second straight draft. Horn would line up opposite Trevon Diggs (and alongside slot corner Jourdan Lewis, whom Dallas re-signed to a three-year deal in free agency) and instantly improve this secondary. He has the size, tenacity, and ball skills to excel in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's system.
The Cowboys allowed 29.6 points per game, fifth-most in the NFL, in large part due to a pass defense that allowed a touchdown on 6.6% of attempts. Patrick Surtain II -- the son of the former Miami and Kansas City cornerback -- has the size (6-1, 203), ball skills and fluidity to lock down receivers.