The NFL combine is a wrap with some Pro Days still ahead. It’s still early in the process but some comments from Jerry and Jason supply hints to where the Dallas Cowboys may be looking to take with their first pick. They probably haven’t decided who they will pick yet but as information comes in, it becomes more clear what their needs will be.
Jay Ratliff Staying: After getting into some trouble recently and struggling through injuries last season, some speculated that Ratliff may be cut from the team. However Jason recently indicated that Ratliff will be back next season. When asked about Ratliff’s status as a Cowboy in 2013, Jason used the word “absolutely”.
Draft Impact: I think it makes it less likely that Dallas will use their first pick on a defensive tackle. Dallas is going to a 4-3 defense next season and they could use some help at DT but with Ratliff on the roster, I imagine they will look for DT help later in the draft. I also think that makes sense because the 2013 draft is well stocked with defensive linemen. That’s not to assume that if a Shariff Floyd (Florida) fell to them at 18, they would pass on him. But at this point , I don’t see them selecting a DT in the first.
Not Able to Sign Anthony Spencer: As far as signing Spencer after his huge contract season, Jerry Jones pretty much said Dallas would make an offer that would likely be too low.
“The number I have in mind is much less than he is going to take. And with what he is likely going to make we can take that and really help our team with him or a couple of other players. It’s either or. And you can’t have it all.”
Sorry Spencer, but when the billionaire owner talks about not being able to have it all, it’s not a good sign that you will be with Dallas next season. Spencer will probably get a nice offer from another team and it’s possible that fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan may want to bring Spencer to the Saints.
Draft Impact: The way I see it, Dallas will need to draft a defensive end. As they transition to the 4-3, they have Ware on one side but will need to replace Spencer with a true 4-3 DE. The sooner they pick one in the draft, the less they will miss Spencer I believe. The odds of them drafting a DE in the first are pretty high in my view.
Ezekiel Ansah (BYU)- Described as raw but wow, what an athlete. He impressed at the combine and in the Senior Bowl too so his stock is likely on the rise. The secret is out on this big dude (6-5, 274) who runs a 4.63/40. In fact it’s starting to look like he will be gone ahead of the Cowboy’s pick at 18. If he is available, then they could really use this guy next season to pressure QBs. If Ansah gets gone early, then Dallas should consider Alex Okafor (Texas) who could fill in nicely for the departed Spencer.
Jerry and Stephen sound like they can find something for Doug Free to do next season which can’t be good news for fans. Because of his over blown contract, Dallas is pretty much stuck with him next year after his poor performance at right tackle last season.
For now they appear content to have Free and Parnell rotate at right tackle with Jerry even saying, “The bottom line is we have two guys who make me sleep at night at right tackle”. Maybe Jerry is getting sleep but most fans consider it a nightmare! Not to mention Romo who is the one running for his life.
Draft Impact: These depressing comments cause me to conclude that Dallas will not draft an offensive tackle in the first round. And maybe not even in the whole draft. Now there are some outstanding tackles expected to go early in the draft like Eric Fisher and Lance Johnson. And if one of them should somehow fall to Dallas, they would be crazy to not pick them. It’s just not likely to happen.
Could Safety Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) fall to the Cowboys?
Vaccaro is the top rated safety in the draft however he didn’t have a great 40 time at the combine with a 4.63/40. (Note that Ansah the big DE ran a 4.63) Vaccaro was expected to go before 18 but now perhaps he becomes available for Dallas? Vaccaro has a pro day coming to improve on his time. Also I have read that Vaccaro is visiting Valley Ranch for an interview. The new Tampa 2 defense will require exceptional play at safety.
On film, Vaccaro offers outstanding pass coverage for a safety even in the slot, which is desperately needed by the Dallas secondary. If Vaccaro is there at 18, I like the odds that Dallas will select a safety with their first pick.
Dallas must address the interior offensive line: List this one as a “no brainer” for Cowboy fans who watched last season, but the Cowboys need a guard. Even Jerry is sounding like he thinks they need one too. While speaking of supporting his center Costa, Jones said, “If we can get in better shape at guard, then Costa can be a good center for us.”
I’m not convinced that a good guard solves the center issue but these are “baby steps” for Jerry who is looking to improve at guard either in FA or the draft.
Prospects: Three guards in the draft could likely help the Cowboys improve their line immediately. Warmack, Cooper and Warford are the top available guards. Warmack didn’t have an outstanding combine by any means but is still expected to go in the draft prior to Dallas first pick. Cooper was rated about where Dallas picks however he helped himself at the combine with an impressive 40 time for a guard and 35 reps on the bench. Cooper just may move up ahead of Dallas pick too. Getting Warford in the 2nd round would still be a good move and allows Dallas to address other needs in the first like a DE for example.
I’m not sure where Jerry plans to find a guard but if he gets an opportunity to pick any of these three, he better do it!
RECAP: It’s still early in the process but in light of recent comments, I like the chances of Dallas drafting either a guard, defensive end, or safety. Exactly which one they pick may depend on the best available at these positions when 18 rolls around.