Greg Hardy, like it or not, is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Finding a pass-rushing beast was a high priority for the front office this offseason. Plenty of ink has been spent detailing this guy or that guy as a likely draft target for the team. That all changed when Dallas took the calculated risk of signing the troubled-but-talented former Carolina Panther to a contract. The up front heat that the Cowboys have been missing since DeMarcus Ware started to slip off is expected to make a return to the defensive unit.
From a purely football perspective, this is a tremendous boost to the Cowboys fortunes. One major need has been addressed with a Pro Bowl caliber player who is ready to enter the prime years of his career. The best news for fans is that the team acquired this kind of talent without the investment of a valued draft pick. That means that Dallas will still have the opportunity to invest their first-round pick in filling another of the team's high priority needs.
With the offensive line a position of strength for the first time in recent memory, the Cowboys can now either address a second need on the defensive front or go another route and bolster the back side of the defense by looking to the cornerback position. A strong case can be made for either position. There are also legitimate arguments that could be made for addressing the linebacking corps or for selecting a top-tier running back. None of us have access to the Dallas brain-trust, so everything is sheer speculation at this point. That is what fans do at this point in the offseason.
The most likely route for Dallas to take is to invest in the secondary. Cornerback has been a position of concern throughout the Jason Garrett era. The team has moved from Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman manning the corners in the beginning to the 'twin upgrades' offered by the signing of Brandon Carr and the trade up offered by Morris Claiborne. The most tangible upgrade proved to be in the hype. Despite the Cowboys investment, the corners have continued to be a weak spot for the defense. In a passing league, top teams cannot afford to be vulnerable on the corners. A real upgrade is long overdue.
This year's draft, while short on what I would consider to be elite level cornerbacks, does offer several opportunities for a significant upgrade or two for the pass defense. There are guys out there that are going to be available during the late first and second rounds who can be expected to come in to training camp ready to exert their claim on starting positions. With the needs that the Cowboys have, it would be prudent for Dallas to strongly consider pulling the trigger on one of these players. None of them are 'the best thing since Deion Sanders' but we already know what that got for the team.
This years crop is full of corners that can play and contribute to the overall success right away but who will likely never be elite. That fits in nicely with what Jason Garrett wants from his players. Guys who play together as a unit, rather than as a collection of individual superstars, fit the profile of what the Rooster wants to achieve. A golden opportunity exists for the team to give him exactly that. Solid corner play, boosted by the addition of the pass rush provided by Mr. Hardy, will elevate the 2015 Dallas defense to the next level. Considering the success that they experienced from the 2014 edition, the combination of Greg Hardy and a early selection of a cornerback to pair alongside what Dallas already has should provide plenty of excitement for fans as football slowly works its way back around.