2011 NFL Draft | Dallas Cowboys Team Needs
The Dallas Cowboys were the trendy pick to make (and host) the Super Bowl out of the NFC prior to the beginning of the season. However, by week two, it was evident that this was a false prophecy.
The Cowboys started the season 1-7, fired head coach Wade Phillips, and finished 6-10 and tied with the Washington Redskins for last in the NFC East.
Jason Garrett, who was hired to be the interim coach in Phillips’ place, was given the full-time job after the season, and he’s tabbed with the responsibility of being the man to return the franchise to glory.
They haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1995, and have won just one playoff game since 1997. Ouch.
As always, the draft is the easiest way to improve.
Biggest Needs: OL, RB?
The Cowboys’ offensive line is old, and that’s no secret.
27-year-old Doug Free stepped in and looked like a fine left tackle last season. However, the rest of the line belongs in an NFL nursing home.
Left guard Kyle Kosier is 32. Center Andre Gurode is 31. Right guard Leonard Davis is 32. Right tackle Marc Colombo is 32.
While age alone may not be the problem, ineffectiveness surely is. While they allowed just 31 sacks (11th in the league), the line as a unit looks downright overmatched against most of the league’s premier defensive linemen.
Dallas needs to get younger at four of the five O-line spots, and may be able to address a few of them in this draft. The top tackle prospects are Nate Solder, Anthony Castonzo, Derek Sherrod and Gabe Carimi.
As far as interior linemen go, you have Marcus Cannon, Mike Pouncey, Stefen Wisniewski and Rodney Hudson.
The rest of the Dallas offense is in decent shape. While Felix Jones hasn’t quite panned out as quickly as expected, he still has the speed and elusiveness to succeed as a starting NFL running back, assuming he can stay healthy. Tashard Choice showed flashes in 2010, as well, and should be given a chance at becoming the starter next season.
Still, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cowboys looking for a running back with one of their late-round selections.
Biggest Needs: DE, S, ILB, CB
While the Cowboys’ offense is solid, the defense is in shambles.
Production dipped in just about every area in 2010, most notably in the defensive backfield.
Dallas would like to upgrade at both safety spots. This draft doesn’t have a top-tier safety like Eric Berry, so the Cowboys seem likely to go with a defensive end with the No. 9 overall pick.
As for the safeties, Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh don’t cut it. Neither is particularly effective in coverage, and they’re below-average as tacklers. So, don’t be surprised to see two new starting safeties in 2011.
North Carolina’s Deunta Williams can play both safety spots. Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel and West Virginia’s Robert Sands would also be solid choices.
Mike Jenkins, after appearing in the Pro Bowl in 2009, struggled mightily last season. Terence Newman is still a decent player on the other side, but he’s getting up there in age.
Dallas would likely gladly take Prince Amukamara should he fall to No. 9, but he seems likely to be taken higher. Other possibilities are Miami’s Brandon Harris, Colorado’s Jimmy Smith and Texas’ Aaron Williams. All three of them would be a major reach at No. 9, so expect the Cowboys to address cornerback later in the draft.