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Dallas Cowboys: Team Draft Needs

Mario Puig

Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.

For a steady source of draft news and prospect analysis, make sure to follow us on Twitter at @NFLDraft2K14!

Tony Romo's above-average play keeps the Cowboys just barely in the NFC playoff picture every year, but this is a team that lacks talent. Three fifths of the offensive line is questionable, wide receiver depth is weak, the entire defensive line is a mess and the best player on defense (Sean Lee) can't stay healthy. The most pressing needs in Dallas, though, exist in the defensive and offensive lines.

Free agency update: The Cowboys eased their need at defensive tackle by adding Henry Melton, but the former Chicago standout is just a bandaid solution on a one-year deal. Also, it's worth noting that Dallas didn't do anything to address safety in the offseason, so the Cowboys might take a safety early on. Players like Craig Loston (LSU) and Ed Reynolds (Stanford) in the third round come to mind.

1. Defensive tackle

The Dallas defensive tackle rotation was extremely weak in 2013, as 16-game starter Nick Hayden is so subpar he was out of the league in 2012. His backups were arguably even worse. What's more, breakout tackle Jason Hatcher might walk in free agency after posting 11 sacks. After allowing a pitiful 4.7 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns on the ground in 2013, Dallas could particularly use a couple tackles who specialize in stuffing the run.

2. Defensive end

DeMarcus Ware should bounce back with a little luck in the injury department, but his 2013 season could hardly have been more disappointing. He missed time with a quadriceps injury and played through elbow and back issues, as well. His effectiveness and durability might both decline further since he'll be 32 in July. Dallas canít count on greatness from Ware anymore, and the teamís other starter, George Selvie, is merely serviceable. Anthony Spencer canít be counted on at all as a free agent coming off microfracture knee surgery.

3. Guard

Even if it was an example of too little too late, Dallas had the right idea when it took center Travis Frederick in the first round of the 2013 draft. The interior of the Dallas offensive line is still ugly, though, and itís time to add some real guard talent next to Frederick and left tackle Tyron Smith. Doug Free is still a liability at right tackle, too, so the Cowboys could definitely target that position.

Potential targets

Defensive tackle

First round

-RaíShede Hageman, Minnesota (6-6, 310)
-Timmy Jernigan*, Florida State (6-2, 300)

Second and third rounds
-Louis Nix*, Notre Dame (6-2, 345)
-Dominique Easley, Florida (6-1, 285)
-DaQuan Jones, Penn State (6-4, 320)

Fourth round and later
-Anthony Johnson, LSU (6-2, 295)
-Ego Ferguson, LSU (6-2, 310)
-Bruce Gaston, Purdue (6-2, 310)
-Eathyn Manumaleuna, BYU (6-2, 305)
-Kelcy Quarles*, South Carolina (6-3, 300)

Defensive end

Second and third rounds

-Trent Murphy, Stanford (6-6, 260)
-Kony Ealy*, Missouri (6-5, 275)
-Marcus Smith, Louisville (6-3, 250)
-Kareem Martin, North Carolina (6-5, 265)
-Scott Crichton, Oregon State (6-3, 265)
-Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State (6-3, 245)

Fourth round and later
-Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (6-4, 250)
-Chris Smith, Arkansas (6-2, 270)
-Trevor Reilly, Utah (6-5, 255)
-Aaron Lynch, South Florida (6-5, 245)
-James Gayle, Virginia Tech (6-4, 255)
-Chaz Sutton, South Carolina (6-4, 260)


First round
-Xavier Su'a-Filo*, UCLA (6-3, 305)
-Zack Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 310)

Second and third rounds
-Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (6-3, 340)

Fourth round and later
-Brandon Thomas, Clemson
-Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6-5, 340)
-Jon Halapio, Florida (6-3, 320)
-Anthony Steen, Alabama (6-2, 310)
-Chris Watt, Notre Dame (6-3, 320)
-Ryan Groy, Wisconsin (6-5, 320)
-John Urschel, Penn State (6-3, 300)