By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on April 18, 2014
The Dallas Cowboys' roster was gutted a bit this offseason in an effort to comply with the NFL's salary cap. May's draft will serve as an opportunity to reload at several positions of need with young talent. Here are five dark horse candidates to become Dallas' first-round pick.
The Cowboys need an upgrade on the interior of their offensive line, and UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo is capable of giving them one. Many would argue selecting Su'a-Filo at pick No. 16 overall would be a reach and wouldn't provide Dallas with much value. While other candidates are considerable risks, though, Su'a-Filo would be a relatively safe investment as close to a sure thing to succeed at the next level.
Both of the Cowboys' starting safety spots remain unsettled, but nabbing a well-rounded strong safety like Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward projects to induce the most improvement. Ward is one of the class' fastest-rising prospects and possess the ability to be a difference-maker in run support and in coverage.
The Cowboys desperately need to bolster their pass rush after parting ways with DeMarcus Ware this offseason. Oregon State's Scott Crichton isn't generating the same amount of buzz as other potential first-round pass rushers, but he could end up coming off the board on day one thanks to his high ceiling. Crichton needs to develop a full repertoire of pass rushing moves and counters, but he possesses an impressive blend of quickness and power.
A large portion of mock drafts have the Cowboys selecting an interior defensive lineman in the first round but have been mostly limited to Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan and Louis Nix. Florida's Dominique Easley isn't considered worthy of Dallas' first-rounder, but arguably should be. He has the talent to be the top defensive tackle taken. Concerns about two ACL tears have hurt his stock, but the Cowboys will be tempted if he checks out medically.
Believe it or not, Dallas could use another wide receiver. Dez Bryant is obviously a stud and Terrance Williams is a productive up-and-comer, but there isn't much depth behind the two. A dynamic playmaker like LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. could be just what the Cowboys' passing attack is missing. Beckham Jr. can make big plays on the outside or when operating out of the slot, giving him the versatility to mesh well with the Cowboys' current corps.
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