The Dallas Cowboys were incredibly foolish to fire Rob Ryan and then switch to the 4-3 defense with Monte Kiffin, but now that they have, it’s time to try and build a defense to fit the new scheme. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys absolutely have to address their offensive line woes. Fortunately for Dallas, the 2013 NFL Draft is chockfull of solid players at all the positions the Cowboys need. So even though Jerry Jones has done everything he can to absolutely ruin the Cowboys’ chances of contending anytime soon, Dallas its sill catching a break this April.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Jones will draft the right players and take advantage of the situation, but at least the options are on the table. Over half the players projected to be selected in the first round are ones that could tremendously help the Cowboys right away. Guys like superstar offensive tackle Luke Joeckel will be long gone by the time the Cowboys are on the board at No. 18, but highly-touted players like offensive guard Jonathan Cooper could still be available. There are a dozen first-round-caliber offensive linemen in this year’s draft, so at least one of them is bound to be on the board when it’s the Cowboys’ turn to pick.
Dallas absolutely cannot afford to bring back right tackle Doug Free this year. He counts way too much against the salary cap for the awful effort he showed on the field in 2012. If the Cowboys have the opportunity to take a standout offensive tackle in the first round to replace Free and pair with Tyron Smith, they absolutely must do that. If not, a solid guard prospect like Cooper would be the best option.
As most of the college football world wises up and switches to the 3-4 defense, the NFL draft faces the domino effect and this year is no different; a vast majority of the defensive standouts in this year’s draft played 3-4 schemes in college. However, specific stars like Jarvis Jones can play either the 3-4 or 4-3, so that won’t affect which teams are interested in them and which ones aren’t.
Dallas will move DeMarcus Ware to defensive end this year, so that means Sean Lissemore and Jay Ratliff will start at the two defensive tackle positions. So now the Cowboys must figure out who’s going to play the other outside linebacker spot opposite Bruce Carter and who will fill that other defensive hole as well. He’ll probably be gone by the 18th pick, but Texas A&M‘s Damontre Moore would be ideal if the Cowboys had no good offensive line options left. Moore is one of many incredibly talented outside pass-rushers in this year’s draft, so the Cowboys should have plenty of options if they decide to address defense in the first round.
In short, even the Cowboys can’t mess things up in this year’s draft. Well, that’s probably too bold considering Jerry is calling the shots, but the cards are definitely stacked in Dallas’ favor, especially considering all the recent changes for the worse and the contract situations of guys like Spencer and Butler. Smile, Cowboys fans–it may be the only time you can for a while.