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Picking And Choosing

!LSU CB Patrick Peterson may be the first defensive player chosen.

  • First things first, I believe those Cowboys fans who continue to talk about drafting LSU's Patrick Peterson are engaging in some very wishful thinking. For that to happen, he would have to fall to at least No. 6 overall, which seems unlikely to begin with. But then Jerry Jones would need to swap places with Cleveland, which would most likely cost either his second-round pick, No. 40 overall, or the third-rounder plus something else. That's too much to give for one guy when the Cowboys have so many needs.   * Keep in mind that the team's top pick has been through Valley Ranch each of the past five years at least. Last week the team hosted basically every offensive lineman being thought of as a first rounder. Tyron Smith could very easily be their pick at No. 9, or they could trade down into the teens, where there seems to be a range of linemen who could start for them immediately: Mike Pouncey, Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi.  * Everyone realizes, I think, that defense was the Cowboys' main problem last season, but the offensive line was a liability as well. The Cowboys could shore up both by making an offensive lineman their No. 1 pick, and then going for defense the rest of the way.   * Mike Pouncey has no idea what the Cowboys are going to do in the first round. Maybe they told him they really like him, even that they want him, but they wouldn't dare divulge their plans to a prospect. I wouldn't be surprised if last week's tweet was his agent's idea, trying to drum up some buzz that he could go earlier in the draft than he really should. Last year I was convinced the Cowboys wanted his brother, Maurkice, but he didn't last long enough.   * If either Julio Jones or A.J. Green are available at No. 9, the Cowboys need to be working the phones. Some team will want to move ahead of Washington for one of those guys. As for the idea of the Cowboys actually picking Jones or Green? No thanks. The 2009 No. 1 went for Roy Williams, and last year's top pick was Dez Bryant.   * Unless Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus are available at No. 9, I don't think the Cowboys will take a defensive lineman in the first round. Same goes for Von Miller and pass-rushers.  * If the Cowboys do pick a tackle in the first or second round, I think you can say goodbye to Marc Colombo.   * Trading down for an offensive lineman, theoretically, would give the team enough ammo to move back into the first round to get another player they really like, such as Rahim Moore of UCLA.  * Of the safeties in this draft, I think Moore is the best fit. He's demonstrated the ability to get to the ball, with those 10 interceptions in his sophomore year, and has a ton of experience in a pass-heavy conference. The Cowboys could plug him into their starting free safety job on the first day of camp. Drafting someone worthy of that job would mean they only have to spend on one safety in free agency. Maybe that guy is Gerald Sensabaugh. Maybe it's Danieal Manning or Abe Elam, but don't expect the Cowboys to be paying two free agent safeties. Sensabaugh or Manning probably won't come cheap.   * I don't see Michael Huff coming here. He'll be the priciest safety on the market, and his previous experience with Rob Ryan wasn't really positive. Ryan benched him.  * Free agency, or the current lack thereof, does have a lot to do with the Cowboys' approach to this draft, unlike in years past. They'll say they want to draft the best players, and that will be the case to a certain extent. But it's really important to address needs in the first few rounds this year

because if and when a salary cap returns, I don't think the Cowboys will be able to do much other than re-sign their own guys. It's going to be hard enough to lock up Doug Free and Stephen Bowen, and still have money for that safety, or to re-up Kyle Kosier.  

Inside linebacker, on the other hand, has to be addressed. Keith Brooking and Bradie James are in the last year of their contracts, and Sean Lee is still unproven. James has been very durable and continued to produce, but considering all the thumping he's done over the last six seasons, I don't know if the Cowboys will count on him as a starter past 2011. He turned 30 in January.   

So there you go, just some musings on the situation facing the Cowboys two and a half weeks from now. Undoubtedly there are some other opinions out there, but I'm pretty firm on these. It's been a strange draft season with no consensus at the top of the board, and the fact the Cowboys can go in so many different directions with their top pick. 

But the closer April 28 gets, the picture is starting to come into focus.                 

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