Despite Spencer, OLB Still A Draft Priority

They're keeping Anthony Spencer on board with a guaranteed $8.8 million this year via the franchise tag, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys feel they're set at outside linebacker.

It's been said plenty of times - plenty of times - that Spencer's six-sack production doesn't justify such a large raise or a long-term deal, but the Cowboys believe he brings a lot of other much-needed attributes to the defense. Still, they know the pass rush must improve opposite DeMarcus Ware.

The thought is Spencer would have more impact if he had few other responsibilities but to rush the passer, similiar to Ware. Likewise, owner and GM Jerry Jones thinks backup Victor Butler could be effective with more opportunities.

But having those two on campus won't stop the team from upgrading its edge rush this April.

"Let's say that you drafted a war horse as a pass rusher specifically, got the best one in the draft," Jones said. "You would play him differently than we played Spencer last year.

"We don't need to be cavalier about passing on a significant pass-rusher in a draft. That would draw us up right there and make us think twice, even with Spencer."

The tip-top pass rushing crop is seemingly thin, leveling off significantly after North Carolina's Quinton Coples and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, both of whom could be gone before the Cowboys pick at No. 14 overall.

While there may not be many elite prospects, the Cowboys believe there are a lot of pretty good bets in the early going.

"Throughout, in my mind, the first and second round," Jones said, "there are, preliminarily, some pretty impressive pass rushers out here, edge pass rushers."

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