(Editor's Note: As the NFL Draft approaches on May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com's Draft Series will analyze every position, including the Cowboys' needs at each and which players might be targeted with their 11 picks, while also providing some interesting draft nuggets. Part 1 features the wide receiver position.)
For the first time in nine years, the Cowboys will not have Miles Austin among their wide receivers as the team parted ways with him this offseason. Austin's starting spot will be filled by second-year receiver Terrance Williams, who started eight games last year as a rookie and never relinquished his first-team duties even when Austin returned from injury later in the season.
Of course, this position should always start with Dez Bryant, who is emerging as not only one of the Top-3 receivers in the NFL, but also arguably the most dominating player on this Cowboys' roster. Bryant has been a touchdown machine, catching 25 scoring passes in the last two years. This is Bryant's contract season as he enters his fifth year, and it'll be interesting to see just when the Cowboys make a move to re-sign him.
Behind the starters, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley are solid role players who can work the middle of the field.
Those are the only four players with significant playing experience on the current roster.
What They Need:
The Cowboys could use more speed at the position – a real game-breaker who can stretch the field. Their best deep threat is Williams, who was a 4.5 guy last year at the combine. They haven't had a real burner in years and with a deeper pool of draft prospects at receiver, that might be the best place for the Cowboys to fill that void. [embedded_ad]
While the draft has plenty of quality receivers, that isn't the case anymore in free agency. In fact, Austin might be the best available wide receiver on the market, alongside Santonio Holmes. Earl Bennett, Danario Alexander and Micheal Spurlock, who was also with the Cowboys last year as a return specialist, appear to be among the best receivers still looking for work as well.
The big names at receiver will probably be gone when the Cowboys select at No. 16. Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans of Texas A&M are a pair of big-bodied pass-catchers who can be dynamic as well.
After the top two, it's a guessing game what will happen next at receiver. A host of players have started to trickle into the first-round discussion, but that doesn't seem to be an area the Cowboys will look, unless either Evans and/or Watkins should slip.
The middle rounds are a more likely possibility for the Cowboys to add some receiver depth. Three guys in that area to keep an eye on are Colorado's Paul Richardson, Oregon's Josh Huff and Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, who is the SEC's all-time leading receiver in both career catches (262) and yards (3,759).
For a more in-depth look at all the draft prospects, check out the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine 2014 Draft Guide, which profiles more than 80 potential picks with rankings for over 300 players available in the upcoming draft. Digital subscriptions, which include 32 issues throughout the year, are available for just $14.99.