The Dallas Cowboys should select the best players available when they’re on the clock in May, but they should also be focused on adding talent in a few key areas.
What positions should the Cowboys target in this year’s draft? Well, here are the five biggest areas of need on their roster.
Defensive tackle. Without Jay Ratliff and Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden and Jason Hatcher saw the majority of playing time in the middle. Hayden isn’t a game-changer and Hatcher, who is a free agent, might not return. The Cowboys need to find a talented player to pair with Crawford as a base for the future. The tackle position was ignored last year and should be addressed with at least one pick in the first three rounds.
Defensive end. DeMarcus Ware is coming off his worst statistical season and Anthony Spencer is coming off season-ending knee surgery. Monte Kiffin’s four-man front has to get pressure on the quarterback for his defense to be successful. The Cowboys haven’t spent a first or second round pick on a pass rusher since Spencer in 2007. This year seems like a good time to add some young talent on the edge.
Safety. Dallas hasn’t drafted a safety in one of the first two rounds since 2002, the year they took Roy Williams eighth overall. J.J. Wilcox, who was picked in the third round last year, has a chance to be a good starter. Barry Church, 25, led the team in tackles last season and undrafted rookie Jeff Heath played in all 16 games. But the Cowboys need another playmaker on the back end. Defensive line and safety are the positions the Cowboys will most likely target in the first round.
Linebacker. With a young group that includes Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber, the Cowboys should have some depth at the position. But Carter struggled last year with the scheme change, Lee continues to battle injuries, Holloman has some growing to do and Wilber is adjusting to a new position. Drafting a standout linebacker with 4-3 experience isn’t the worst idea.
Offensive line. The Cowboys played very well upfront in 2013. They were better than most expected. Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick showed that the franchise has a good foundation up front. But with Doug Free entering the last year of his contract and Mackenzy Bernadeau with only two years remaining on his deal, drafting a guard or tackle would also be a good option. The draft pick could learn from the veterans and not be immediately forced into action like Ronald Leary, Smith and Frederick.