The Cowboys began last season with a 3-5 start, something they hope to avoid this year. However, as bad as it began, they also showed they have the heart to turn it around. They rallied to win 5 games after trailing in the fourth quarter and came within one win of clinching the NFC East title and a playoff seed. The Cowboys aren't far from their goal and a successful draft will help get them there. According to the numbers from last season, the 2012 draft wasn't a very successful one for the Cowboys. Morris Claiborne hasn't produced at the level that they paid and no one else has stood out. Under new coordinator Monte Kiffin, Claiborne may see more success. This is head coach Jason Garrett's third season and after finishing 8-8, he knows he needs to produce of he could be looking for work somewhere else next year. They go in to the 2013 with some needs to address.
Interior Offensive Line
A couple of years ago the Cowboys got rid of some of the staples of their offensive line because of age and salary cap considerations. Since then it hasn't looked good for this unit. They have struggled to protect franchise quarterback Tony Romo, who just signed a massive contract, and they have also failed to open consistent holes for the run game. Nate Livings, Phil Costa and Mackenzy Bernadeau should all be concerned about their job safety.
Monte Kiffin is the new defensive coordinator, the same guy who is the pioneer of the Tampa 2 defense, and he's looking to build the roster to fit his scheme. The Cowboys are going to be going through a major change on defense as they use to play aggressive and will now instead look to play assignment based football. It could be a tough transition and a good safety will be needed to smooth things out. Proper use of the Tampa 2 scheme requires two safeties each capable of covering the deep half of the field.
Running Back Depth
DeMarco Murray is a violent runner who has already missed nine games during his first two seasons. When he is not in the game, the Cowboys can't move the ball on the ground at all, averaging a measly 3.1 YPA. If the offensive line gets upgraded it will open more holes and take some of the punishment off of the running back, but the Cowboys still need an insurance policy for Murray. When he is not in the game the defense has been able to focus on the pass because the Cowboys are so one dimensional. With the 18th pick in the 3rd round and the 17th pick in the 4th the Cowboys could easily land a serviceable change of pace back.
Defensive Line Depth
Jay Ratliff missed 10 games last season and the Dallas defense did not look good without him. One of the problems that comes with a change in defensive scheme is that some personnel won't fit quite as well. Even though Ratliff will likely benefit from the transition, most of the line fits Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme better than Kiffin's. Kiffin will look to have the front four generate pressure which means they will have to improve their pass rush skills. Anthony Spencer will likely make the transition to defensive end in the new 4-3 alignment.
With the 18th overall pick in the draft Jerry Jones could easily take a player like Sylvester Williams from North Carolina. A big, strong DT at 6-3, 313 lbs. he will add the much needed depth to the defensive line. He is active and powerful and will be able to step right in to the rotation. He'll be able to bring a disruptive force to the line with good technique and quickness. Jerry Jones has been in charge of personnel decisions ever since he bought the team in 1989. He realizes that even in a good situation, changing to a new defensive scheme won't always be smooth. If they don't add depth to the line, it could quickly turn in to a disaster. He believes in the people he hires and tries to put them in positions to succeed. Look for him to use the first pick to give Monte Kiffin some more talent on the defensive side of the ball.