Dallas Cowboys Must Go All D-Line Early in 2014 NFL Draft

By Jeric Griffin
Aaron Donald Cowboys 2014 nfl draft
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys cannot draft “purely” on the first two days of the 2014 NFL Draft, contrary to what head coach Jason Garrett wants you to believe. Dallas has only two possibilities with its first two picks and really only one if the team hopes not to go 8-8 for a fourth straight season. Forget all the talk about the future and the garbage you’re being fed by the delusional higher-ups of this dysfunctional organization. The Cowboys must draft multiple defensive linemen early this year. Period.

Yes, everyone knows this team has multiple holes that must be filled in order for actual title contention to even be fathomable, but by actually shoring up the defensive line, a positive domino effect could be created that would make a lot of those other holes much smaller.

Sacks Yards QB Rating
2013 34 (25th) 4,589 (30th) 96.0 (26th)
2012 34 (20th) 3,684 (19th) 94.7 (29th)
2011 42 (7th) 3,906 (23rd) 88.4 (25th)
2010 35 (16th) 3,894 (26th) 92.8 (29th)

As this chart shows, the Cowboys have been awful on defense in recent years as they haven’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which has resulted in a truckload of yards and high passer ratings allowed. With the exception of 2011 when DeMarcus Ware went nuts with 19.5 sacks, Dallas’ pass rush has been one of the league’s worst throughout the entire Garrett era. Coincidence? Absolutely not, but we don’t have time to chase that rabbit right now.

What these stats show is that the Cowboys’ pass defense woes don’t hinge solely on poor play by their defensive backs. Sure, the secondary hasn’t been stellar in recent years, but not even Deion Sanders could cover a No. 1 receiver for well over four seconds on each and every play. With no pass rush, Dallas’ defensive backs don’t have a chance, and that has been the biggest problem over the past several seasons.

Now shoring up the defensive line in one offseason is obviously easier said than done, especially considering Ware is no longer with the team and Anthony Spencer’s future is up in the air in more ways than one. However, there are several pass-rushing prospects in this year’s draft who could step in and make a difference right away and that’s what the Cowboys need; not a handful of project players on Day 3.

Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh), Kony Ealy (Missouri) and Dee Ford (Auburn) are three top targets for the Cowboys as the former would be a solid pass-rushing three-technique, regardless of where Henry Melton plays, and the latter two would be solid competition for Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Wilber and George Selvie at defensive end. Even more important, either Ealy or Ford would provide much-needed depth at defensive end.

Finally, the Cowboys could even go with a stellar one-technique like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix, who is by far the best prospect on the board at his position. He would be inserted next to Melton in the starting lineup, plug holes to dominate the opposition’s running game and free up Melton and Dallas’ defensive ends to finally put some real pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

After selecting any of these players who would undoubtedly improve the team right away as rookies, the Cowboys also need to be aware of the defensive linemen on the board in the second round. Players who will garner interest from picks 33 through 64 are Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence, who could end up being the biggest defensive steal of the draft as an incredibly-diverse defensive end, Oregon State’s Scott Crichton, who is a solid traditional 4-3 defensive end prospect, and Stanford’s Trent Murphy, who has been compared to Jared Allen.

The point is the Cowboys need to get a bonafide starter in the first round to instantly improve the defensive line and then draft another solid defensive line prospect in the second round and let Rod Marinelli work his magic to get that player ready to contribute right away as well. By going heavy on the defensive line early and finally making that unit an asset for the team under Marinelli’s guidance rather than a liability as it has been in recent years, Dallas could take all that unnecessary pressure off its defensive backs and finally give its offense a chance against some of the NFL’s best teams.

Jeric Griffin is the General Manager for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JericGriffin, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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