- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
With their third straight 8-8 finish, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in the middle of the pack in the first round of the NFL draft with either pick No. 16 or 17, depending on the result a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens. That is, unless owner and general manager Jerry Jones decides to trade up, like he did in 2012, or trade down, like he did in 2013.
Jones likes to wheel and deal when it comes to the draft, but his focus has to be on the defensive side of the ball this year.
The Cowboys suffered through their worst season in franchise history as they moved to a 4-3 scheme run by Monte Kiffin. At the top of the needs list is defensive line, with DeMarcus Ware coming off his worst season and Jason Hatcher (11 sacks) and Anthony Spencer set for free agency.
The Cowboys have to find a pass-rusher, either tackle or end. The Cowboys showed last year they are not interested in defensive linemen they feel can’t rush the passer when they passed on Sharrif Floyd.
While the defense needs the most help, an argument can be made they need offensive help too. Miles Austin’s future is in doubt and the backup receivers behind Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are limited. DeMarco Murray is entering the final year of his contract, and addressing the offensive line is never a bad idea.
What about quarterback? Jones is on record saying he won’t take a quarterback early. But could he be seduced if one falls to him in the first round?
Check out Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0 to see what players he thinks the Cowboys should target with their first pick.
420dTodd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl