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Mailbag: Ranking Defensive Draft Priorities; DeMarcus Lawrence's Back Surgery

MARK JOHNSTONSILSBEE, TEXAS

In this upcoming draft, say the Cowboys are sitting there in the first round with a D-lineman, a LB, and a CB that they like equally. Who do you think they would take? I'm of the mind to build from the inside out; a great D-line can make an average secondary look good.

David: If they really like all three players equally, I think they'd draft the pass rusher. Jason Garrett loves to say that games are won on the line, and a good pass rush can mask a lot of other problems. Having said that, I think it's far more likely that a quality corner is available at No. 28 than a top-tier pass rusher. But it's early in the draft process. We'll see.

Rob:Pass rusher because it's the arguably the most important position after quarterback (and maybe left tackle). They're also not easy to find. After that I'd say cornerback, though that depends on what happens with free-agents-to-be Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr.

MORICE WELLINGTON IIIVIRGINIA BEACH, VA

Should there be concern about the future of DeMarcus Lawrence health/production wise moving forward? He's only 24, but is having his second straight back surgery in as many offseasons.

David:I think there's two ways to look at this. Firstly, it's January, and Stephen Jones told us yesterday he doesn't expect this problem to be a long-term concern. Lawrence has plenty of time to recover heading into the offseason. But this does present the Cowboys with some questions for 2017-18. This time next year, Lawrence will be heading for free agency. He has been a good player, but I think it's fair to say he's fallen short of the expectations of a top 40 pick -- and he has dealt with several injuries. Those are all factors working against him as he heads into a contract year. But, fortunately for him, he has the ability to set his own market with his level of performance.

Rob:To add to what Dave said, indeed you hope it's not something that continues to linger for Lawrence because he's a talented player. He did have back surgery last January and he had to manage his back as the season wore on. At the end of the 2015 season he looked on track to be a potential double-digit sack guy for this defense. I would have liked to see what he could have done this year without the suspension and the back issues. Regardless, he's in good hands with the team's athletic training staff this offseason.

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