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As we start picking up momentum in the drive to the 2013 NFL Draft, two position groups have popped up more than any others for the Cowboys when speculating about their first-round pick. Defensive line and offensive line are chic predictions for the Cowboys.
So who ya got? Defensive line? Offensive Line? Other?
As we draw closer to the draft, the predictions for the Cowboys first-round pick are leaning heavily toward the defensive or offensive line. On defense, the looming free agency of Anthony Spencer and the problems with our nose tackles, combined with a switch to the 4-3, have made that unit a question mark. Monte Kiffin needs to sort out who can play where, and the front-office needs to make some decisions. Can they re-sign Anthony Spencer? In their current economic situation that seems doubtful. Josh Brent is unlikely to be back at nose tackle for this season, and Jay Ratliff's age and injury issues, combined with some off the field entanglements, clouds his future just a bit. I'd say what you can count on at the moment is DeMarcus Ware playing the weak-side end, Jason Hatcher at one of the other spots, with Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore somewhere in the mix. Outside of those four, the Cowboys have some vets they need to make decisions with (Ratliff, Spears, Brent), and they have some bench guys looking to make a name (Bass, Price, Callaway).
On the other side of the line, the Cowboys offensive unit could use some upgrades. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys offensive line ranked 22nd in 2012.
22. Dallas Cowboys
PB - 26th, RB - 8th, PEN - 32nd
Stud: Never let us say we can't be wrong. Nate Livings (+11.3) had his most consistent year as a pro in Dallas, making a mark with his run blocking.
Dud: It may be time to admit that signing Doug Free (-10.1) long-term just hasn't worked out. There were too many games where he was taken to the woodshed by explosive defensive ends.
Summary: The Cowboys have put some money into their line recently, but the return just wasn't there in 2012. Tyron Smith had an at times awkward first year at left tackle, while Mackenzy Bernadeau gave up too much pressure for an interior linemen. There is talent here, but like a lot of spots in Dallas you don't always see it.
The left-side of the line looks pretty set. The center and right-side are questionable at best. Phil Costa is a free agent, Ryan Cook was a decent fill-in but might not be a long-term solution. Bernadeau did get better as the season progressed but doesn't exactly inspire confidence. At tackle, Free's game did pick up once Jeremy Parnell was elevated into a rotation with him, but are either of these guys the right tackle for a winning future?
So, which side is more messy and needs a first-round draft pick boost right away. Or, do you favor another postion group to receive that help? Maybe you're pure BPA? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments which way you're leaning.
The Cowboys should use the 18th pick on:
a defensive lineman (272 votes)
an offensive lineman (365 votes)
a different position group (7 votes)
the BPA (210 votes)
854 total votes