(Editor's Note: The staff of DallasCowboys.com is currently previewing the depth chart at each position on the Cowboys' roster. The biggest remaining variable in determining that depth chart is the NFL Draft, which begins April 30. This series will identify five potential draft picks who could affect the depth chart at each position. Today, we continue with defensive ends.)
IRVING, Texas – The offseason acquisition of Greg Hardy has alleviated at least some concerns about the Cowboys' pass rush – but by no means all of them.
Cowboys defensive ends managed just 11.5 sacks last year, and they lost some of that production when George Selvie left during free agency. Not even the addition of Hardy alleviates that, as he is still waiting for word on likely disciplinary action from the NFL.
Dallas has a promising trio for 2015 of Hardy, Jeremy Mincey and DeMarcus Lawrence. But even if those three flourish this year, Hardy and Mincey are only under contract for one season.
It's certainly a position the Cowboys could look at in the draft, so here are five prospects from the early, middle and late rounds:
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA –This is the name you'll likely hear associated with the Cowboys the most, as he was a visitor to Valley Ranch in recent weeks. He's a standout athlete, and he appears to have recovered from multiple hip surgeries without any problems. It's a good bet he'll be in play when the Cowboys go on the clock with their No. 27 pick.
Danielle Hunter, LSU –Hunter has "project" written all over him. He's an impressive 6-5, 252 pounds, and he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Despite all that talent, he managed just 1.5 sacks in his final season at LSU. He has high upside, but he hasn't proven he can match potential with production. He may still be on the board when Dallas picks at No. 60.
Frank Clark, Michigan –If it was strictly an on-field decision, Clark would likely be off the board much earlier – he managed 25.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks in his last two seasons. He was dismissed from Michigan's program in November after he was arrested on domestic violence charges, however. Clark seems to have done enough to answer the off-field questions, but it's still unsure when his name will be called. He could go as high as the third or fourth round.
Markus Golden, Missouri –Shane Ray is the Missouri defensive end who draws most of the attention, but he's well out of the Cowboys' pick range. Golden notched 10 sacks last year as a member of the Tigers' rotation at end. He's a bit undersized at just 6-2, but he could be a good mid-round addition – perhaps the fourth round.
Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma –Ndulue might not even hear his name called during the draft, but he's a Dallas native and the Cowboys are sure to have an eye on him. He's built at a stocky 288 pounds, and he managed 12 sacks during his Sooner career. The Cowboys have two seventh-round picks and could take a late flyer on him.