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Mailbag: Who Starts In The Secondary? Problems With Trading Down?

REUBEN JOHNSON
NASHVILLE, TN
I know the league has become more of a passing league and defenses are spent a lot of time in nickel defense, but if Scandrick comes back healthy, and with us re-signing Claiborne and Carr still under contract, who would our starters be in the base defense?

David: For the purposes of this question, I'm going to assume the Cowboys don't draft a high-profile defensive back like Jalen Ramsey or William Jackson III. If we're just using the personnel on hand, I think you'd see Carr and Scandrick as the "starting," corners. But I fully expect that Scandrick would spend a lot of his time shifting inside to the slot, allowing Claiborne to play outside. Barry Church and Byron Jones are the guys I expect to start at safety this season. In a base defense, I think your linebackers would be Rolando McClain, Sean Lee and Kyle Wilber – but Wilber would obviously come off the field frequently.

Rob:Right now I'd expect things to be similar to 2014, with Scandrick as one starter on the outside and then moving to the slot in sub-packages. They missed his presence stabilizing the slot last season. As for the other starting spot on the outside, it has been Carr for several years. Maybe it's Claiborne. You said it – there is so much nickel play these days that it doesn't make much difference who starts. You must have, at minimum, three corners you feel really good about. Preferably four.

JEFF HURSTSIOUX FALLS, SD

I am wondering what your thoughts were about Dallas swapping first round draft choices with the L.A. Rams? The Rams need a QB badly and this would put the Cowboys in a better spot to draft RB Elliot instead of spending a No. 4 pick on him. Get the player you really need and pick up a middle round pick along with it? Seems like a win-win to me?

David:I have two concerns with your scenario. Firstly, the Rams would obviously have to be willing to do that. To get up to No. 4, I think they'd have to part ways with both of their second-round picks – No. 43 and No. 45 – and they might not be willing to do that. Secondly, I don't think Elliott will be there for you at No. 15. I think he's a top 12 pick. I've got my eye on Philadelphia and New York as potential landing spots.

Rob:One, your idea is a long way to drop back. Two, I'm just not a fan of dropping back, especially with a pick this high. Generally speaking I think you sit and take the best player you can, because the odds are the fourth pick in the draft will be, at worst, a starter for you for a very long time, and that's what you absolutely must have in the first round. The Cowboys still have enough needs besides running back where I don't believe they'd be reaching for any particular position player at 4.

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