I dug deep into my extensive computer graphics skills to create the above chart, which I rate as slightly more professional than a 5-year old with a pack of Crayolas. In fact, that elephant, the one who paints with his trunk, he creates better work than this. But the point is to examine our projected starting lineup for 2006, based on the players we have now. Of the 22 starting positions and the 2 key special teams players, we need to examine 7 positions for possible replacement, 8 if Keyshawn gets greedy.
There is some debate around the offensive line and I'm not examining our depth issues. So jump below the fold with me to take a look at our starting lineup needs.
Let's start with defense.
Secondary - Anthony Henry, Terence Newman and Roy Williams are locks to start. The problem is at FS where incumbent Keith Davis is playing out of position. Davis is a special teams demon and would make an excellent backup strong safety to Williams, but he isn't the player we need at FS. Dallas needs a ball-hawking safety who is a stand-out in coverage.
Linebacker - Only two spots are for sure at this very important positon for a 3-4 defense. DeMarcus Ware and Bradie James look to return at outside and inside linebacker. Ryan Fowler and Scott Shanle are competent backups but the Cowboys need a big linebacker who's a sure tackler to man the other inside spot. On the outside, Scott Fujita may or may not be the player we need, but he will see some competition in training camp.
Line - All three spots are settled with Chris Canty, Jason Ferguson and Marcus Spears starting in 2006.
Over to the offense.
Backs - Drew Bledsoe returns at QB and Julius Jones (with help from Marion Barber) will man the tailback positon. Where Dallas could use improvement is at FB where Lousaka Polite had a very uneven season. If Dallas could find an experienced battering-ram to lead Julius, the offense would be greatly improved.
Receivers - Terry Glenn and Jason Witten are sure things to start, and Keyshawn will too, if he doesn't ask for more money. Dallas just needs to add depth here, the starters are fine.
Line - As bad as it was in 2005, I expect 4 out of the 5 original starters to return, of course, that would include Flozell Adams. Adams resumes his duties at LT, and next to him I expect to see Larry Allen. There's been some talk about his cap money and effectiveness, but he's the best option for the Cowboys. Al Johnson should return at C but this is shaky, it's possible they might look at other options, but the probability is he will be making the calls on the line again. Dallas invested a lot of money in RG Marco Rivera and will expect to see a return on investment in 2006. RT Rob Petitti gave it the old college try this year, but didn't get the job done. Dallas will replace him with a free agent.
Kicker - Scott Suisham finished the year for Dallas in 2005, he won't start it in 2006. Dallas will bring in an experienced kicker.
Punter - Mat McBriar might be in training camp but will have competition. This is an open tryout position.
There you go, my instant analysis of the Cowboys starting lineup needs for 2006. Go ahead, start the debate in the comments.
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