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Mailbag: Draft Best Available Defensive Player?

Posted Jan 16, 2014


KEITH STRAUSBURG
LOUISVILLE, KY
There is no doubt the 2014 draft needs to be defense heavy, that being said, I would be fine with the best available defensive player (except corner). What are your thoughts?

David:It’s a tricky proposition, and one that you can’t really predict until the picks start coming off the board. If the best middle linebacker in the draft is available at No. 16 or No. 17, do you take him and worry about the depth chart later? Or do you try to turn one pick into several picks? I’m not really sure you can go wrong. But, if the Cowboys’ intention it to compete for the playoffs next season, it seems logical to me that you draft for need. If you don’t directly address the problems we saw last year, it’s hard to expect better results.

 
Rowan: It can paint a team into a corner drafting simply for need and reaching on a player at a position you want when there’s another player you have graded higher and feel like can be a better player for your team for the foreseeable future. But it can also work out, as it did for the Cowboys last year when they took the best available offensive lineman in the first round and selected Travis Frederick. I think if the team can keep it as broad as selecting the best defensive lineman, safety and perhaps outside linebacker in the first round, that should be a broad enough spectrum to be able to still get a really talented player at that spot. The immediate need is on the line, but grabbing the draft’s best safety wouldn’t be the worst idea.
 
JENS INGE FLATAAS
BERGEN, NORWAY, ON
Hey folks, Throwing you a curveball here - at what positions would you be most worried about drafting progress stoppers for?

David: Personally, I think it’s safety. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the troubles at safety, and a lot of early prognostications have the Cowboys selecting a safety as soon as the first round of the draft. But you create quite a log jam at the position if you do that, as J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath and even potentially Matt Johnson are still back there opposite Barry Church. Wilcox and Heath struggled as rookies, but they were rookies playing on a defense with a mediocre pass rush. I’m not sure that merits drafting someone new just yet. If you spend an early draft pick on a safety in 2014, then one way or another you’re going to have a high draft pick languishing on the bench next season.
 
Rowan:As David mentioned, I think safety’s one – although I don’t think that should stop them from drafting high there. They
invested a fourth-round pick (Matt Johnson) and a third-round pick (J.J. Wilcox) at the position in recent drafts, and I’m not sure the team can fully analyze the potential of those two players just yet. Another spot is at left guard. If the Cowboys draft another guard, he’ll likely compete with Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ron Leary for playing time. If he subs in for Leary, that could stop the progress of the young guard who had a great first full season on the active roster. I’d also look at outside linebacker. DeVonte Holloman seemed to take a big jump late in the year, and at this point I don’t know if anyone knows exactly what Bruce Carter will provide between the upside he displayed in 2012 and a bit of a step backward last year.
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