As days go by with little to no activity at Valley Ranch on the Free Agency front, I find myself thinking maybe this isn't as bad as I thought.
Why we all want to see our beloved Cowboys upgrade via Free Agency with quality players, its no guarantee that produces a winning season (See Eagles 2011). But that doesnt mean depth, and quality players cant be had in FA. Seems like years ago but this approach was actually used last season by Jerry and Co. Must I remind you:
All products of the 2012 Free Agent season. One would have to think the Cowboys brain-trust knew what was coming here in 2013, therefore took their chances in FA last season. Was it the best FA class? No. But it yielded a cornerstone piece to the future in Brandon Carr, and a reliable backup in Orton, 2 positions that do not need addressed this year.
The Cowboys gambled yes, but didn't come away completely empty handed. At the end of the day this team was one game, the final game, away from being NFC East champions. Point being while there are holes, the cupboard is not bare and this team should compete for another run at the East title with solid draft and post draft decisions.
We are all in agreement OL, DL, S and LB are all areas of need in the draft. But I believe we are in a unique situation where we can afford 3 possibly 4 of those positions filled with starters and players getting significant time.
On the offensive line if the team is able to acquire 2 spots of any combination of G,C, and T between rounds 1-4 its not out of the question that they come in and start on opening day. The line is in such a flux that early round selections would have to be viewed as upgrades. *Possible Targets G Cooper, G Warmack, C Jones, G Warford, C Schwenke, T Brennan Williams
On the defensive side of the ball there is a area of concern on all 3 levels. At defensive line, where i believe is the least of the 3 concerns, there lies solid depth but no young stud for the future. I for one like the rotation upfront of Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, Hatcher, Crawford, Lissemore. Because of this depth the need to reach here I believe is not there. What ever player is acquired between rounds 1-4 either will be a key rotational player or a starting DT opposite of Ratliff. Switching to the 4-3 already having 2 pass rushers, and a prototypical 3 tech is a nice jump start. * Possible Targets DT Richardson, DT Hankins, DT Jenkins, DT Hill, DE Hunt, DE Okafor, DE Carradine , DE Maponga
At Linebacker we are loaded at the top but lack real depth. But more importantly we lack a true starter type OLB to play the SAM position opposite Lee and Carter. But having studs such as Lee and Carter is huge in relying on a rookie to fill the other OLB position in the 4-3. Acquiring another athletic, fast, instinctive LB to go along with Bruce Lee could potentially give Dallas one of the most athletic, talented LB cores in the league. There wont be enormous pressure on the rookie, or enormous responsibility on the rookie with Lee and Carter manning the heavy duty lifting. Allowing the young guy to come into his own naturally, not to mention being tutored by guys like Lee, Carter, and Ware. * Possible Targets OLB Mingo,OLB Greene, OLB Porter, OLB Brown
The position in my opinion filled with the most question marks is at Safety. I'm a huge Barry Church believer but lets be honest he is coming off a torn Achilles leaving small doubt in if he can stay healthy or come back right. Then there is Matt Johnson, another mystery. Is believed to have the range and play making ability to be a starter but we just do not know due to injury.
With that said this more than any position outside of Guard is one that can be filled with an immediate starter through the draft. One would have to think if the right guy is brought aboard they cant be as bad as McCray or the revolving door at Safety. It doesn't hurt to have guys like Carr and Claiborne battling in front of you. While there may be a little more pressure at this position than say OLB, I still believe this player can come in and play naturally with not as much pressure due to the system and litany of proven guys in front of him such as Ware, Lee, Carter, Mo, Carr, Rat, Spencer, ect. *Possible Targets S Vaccaro, S Rambo, S Reid, S Cyprien, S Elam
Rd1 G Cooper/Warmack. R2 S Baccari Rambo . R3 DT Brandon Williams. . R4 OLB Sean Porter. Rd5 OT Xavier Nixon. Rd6 DE Quanterus Smith
This draft would yield possibly 3-4 starters in the 2013 season, Cooper or Warmack, Rambo, Williams and possibly Porter. It wouldn't be out of the question to see Xavier Nixon starting upon the release of Free and camp battle with Parnell.
In conclusion, if Jerry and Co can continue to hit in the draft as they have in recent drafts of 2010-2012 the lack of early FA activity may not be as bad as you think.