Kiper's Summer Audits: NFC East

Breaking down the offseason and needs of each team

Originally Published: July 12, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Morris Claiborne and Brandon CarrMatthew Emmons/US PresswireMorris Claiborne and Brandon Carr will lead an improved Dallas Cowboys secondary.

Every summer, with the NFL draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, I take a look at each team. What did it accomplish in terms of added personnel? How did its draft fill holes? What voids remain? Let's jump around the league, addressing three things for each team:

Help added: What the team has done this offseason to improve its prospects. Given my greatest area of expertise, I put a particular emphasis on the draft.
Questions that remain: A look at what voids must be filled.
Next year's help now: With an eye toward next year's draft class, which player from 2013 could seemingly help the team in 2012? This is meant to be hypothetical, a quick look at prospects to keep an eye on.

Here is the version for the NFC East:


Dallas Cowboys

Help added: Outside of the quarterback position, it's hard to remember when the combination of free agency and the draft did more to remake a weak aspect of a team. You could point out that the Dallas pass defense in 2011 was merely bad, not terrible. They allowed 62 percent of opposing passes to be completed, an opposing QB rating of just more than 88.0. They allowed 7.2 yards per pass attempt. These are all bad, bottom-third numbers, but they aren't a disaster. Well … consider that Dallas can actually rush the passer, that the Cowboys are in the top 10 in sack percentage, that all-world DeMarcus Ware racked up 19.5 sacks on his own and it looks a lot worse. They couldn't stop quarterbacks even as they were under duress. It's pretty telling. So the addition of Brandon Carr (free agency) and Morris Claiborne (draft) totally shifts my perception of this team. Because of that area alone, they look a win or two better.

Elsewhere, I thought the draft was pretty average. Third-round pick Tyrone Crawford has a chance to develop at defensive end, but he's a bit of a tweener in this scheme, so I'd expect to see him more as a pass-rusher in obvious passing downs. One guy who could come on is fifth-round WR Danny Coale. I wouldn't be surprised to see him find some time on the field. He's a technician out there.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst