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Mailbag: Do Injuries Basically Make Another Draft Class?
Given the fact that many of the players drafted in 2012 never really got on the field due to injury, won't it seem like the Cowboys have two draft classes in 2013?
Nick: Not sure that’s a good thing. That’s just more players that you don’t know anything about. I know what you’re saying, but guys like Matt Johnson, Danny Coale, Caleb McSurdy and even Kyle Wilber to some extent, all have to prove themselves just like the new class will. I see that as a negative because you’d like to have a better idea about these young players by now, but you don’t.
Rowan: I see your point. But with two whole draft classes, one would assume a team is getting a bunch of early picks. The players who got injured from last year’s class are all late-round picks, so it’s not like a bunch of potential starters are about to emerge from that group. It’s possible you could still get a worthwhile contribution from a player like Matt Johnson, which would be a welcome addition. That said, the Cowboys can’t know what they really have in guys like Johnson, Coale and McSurdy, all of whom were hurt in some capacity before the season even began.
Aloha. To me a big problem with the Cowboys’ defense is their inability to pressure the quarterback, Ware aside. Will Kiffin's "Tampa 2" system help this in any way?
Nick: I think it could, depending on who plays at defensive tackle. If they can figure out how to get Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff to play the two tackles spots, with some help from Sean Lissemore, then you’ve got three pretty good pass-rushing tackles on the interior. You know Ware is going to get some outside pressure, but any help he gets on the inside will be a plus. Plus, the design is for the secondary to keep it all in front of them, which might buy some time for the rushers to get to the quarterback.
Rowan: It really depends what they can get from their defensive line. If Ratliff and Ware both come back healthy and Anthony Spencer re-signs, it could help. The defense would get four constant rushers, including Spencer and Ware consistently rushing up the field. Kiffin would probably sprinkle in some rushes from linebackers, safeties and even cornerbacks, but a lot of pressure needs to be generated by the line. Kiffin’s defenses had more success reaching the quarterback earlier in his tenure at Tampa Bay, finishing in the top 10 in the league in sacks in five of his first nine seasons as the Bucs’ defensive coordinator.