Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen Doug Free (68) Mackenzy Bernadeau (73) Ryan Cook (63) Nate Livings (71) and Tyron Smith (77) are under heavy criticism for not keeping Quarterback Tony Romo safe or providing Dallas with sufficient run blocking. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft 2013: Dallas Cowboys Must Fill Needs


The Dallas Cowboys cannot afford to have another poor draft. The 2013 season might be the most important season of late for Jerry Jones’ team.

Superstars like DeMarcus Ware and Tony Romo are not getting any younger. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin aren’t going to throw the ball to themselves, and DeMarcro Murray can’t block for himself.

So what’s next?

Hopefully the Cowboys can plug some holes that need to be filled before we can even start to discuss a Division title or playoff scenario.

Dallas must make next week’s NFL Draft productive in what looks like not a very deep draft class.

Dallas must address some serious issues including, but certainly not limited to, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Outside Linebacker and Safety.

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With the addition of NFL Journeyman and proven defensive genius Monte Kiffin, the defense has already improved, but without personnel on the field to carry out orders, the Cowboys might be doomed.

In 2012, the Cowboys couldn’t stop anyone. Run or pass, opponents marched up and down the field against the ‘Boys not so big D.

The defense allowed opponents to rush for more than 2000 yards. That doesn’t win many games. Opponents averaged over 4 yards per carry compared the Cowboys’ offense only averaging 3.6.

Dallas Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones must provide a productive 2013 Draft, or the future of the Cowboys is doomed. Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest fear? The Cowboys only forced 16 turnovers in 2012. Seven of those were INTs.

The common adage in football is the less your defense is on the field, the better chance you have to win. Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboy defense could do nothing to help their own cause.

Turn back to the offense.

The rushing attack was weak. The passing attack was telegraphed. In Jason Garrett’s first season in Dallas as an offensive coordinator, the Cowboys led the NFL in yards and total offense. He has become predictable. The offense has no surprise or WOW factor anymore.

Dallas threw the ball 658 times last season. Granted, many of those attempts were because the Cowboys were already losing, but there needs to be a balance. And having one decent offensive lineman, Tyron Smith, isn’t going to get the job done.

The Cowboys must address their needs this year. They cannot have another poor draft, and they certainly cannot afford to waste more time.

Here are the major needs, and those currently on the roster:

1. Offensive Line
Dallas gave up 36 sacks a year ago, and had 41 runs for loss. Maybe it is just me, but going backwards doesn’t get you many touchdowns does it? The Cowboys need to go after a lineman who is big, athletic and strong. They need someone in the middle trenches. A proven guard or center.
Who’s available: With a middle-of-the-pack draft pick, the Cowboys aren’t going to get lucky enough to land Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel. So they must then turn their attention to Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina. Cooper is big and athletic, and can play either guard position. He has very good upper body strength and can handle the bigger NFL interior linemen.
On the Roster: Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau are the two interior guards, but both have shown inconsistent play. Time to get someone young who has upside.

2. Defensive Line
The defensive line last season intimidated no one. With Jay Ratliff’s injuries and Josh Brent’s stupidity, the Cowboys had no interior linemen to control the trenches. Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher are the only proven veterans, and of course Ratliff if healthy.
Who’s available: Dallas should think long and hard about trading to get another pick in the first round. Combining Cooper with Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson would make the draft an early success. Richardson is big and strong, and although he only had one dominating season in college, he has the size and strength to make him a force in the middle.
On the Roster: Ratliff, Spears Sean Lissemore.

3. Safety
The entire Dallas secondary is poor. I could complete a pass against this bunch, and unless Kiffin’s Tampa 2 can make these guys legit, it is going to be a long 2013 season. In 2012, the secondary only came up with 7 picks, and couldn’t stop a third-down pass if there was a bounty program.
Who’s available: Florida’s Matt Elam is the best available. He is still projected to fall somewhere in the 2nd round, maybe the third in some projections. Elam is a hard hitter. He doesn’t have a lot of size, but he hits big and has nice speed.
On the Roster: Uhhh… Barry Church…

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