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Dallas Cowboys Team Needs

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Dallas Cowboys Team Needs
By: Brian Barfield Contributor: Ben Yung

Offensive Tackle
For the first six games of last season, Bill Parcells was able to disguise the play of an inexperienced rookie, 6th round draft pick Rob Petitti, through double teams and chips. After a season ending injury to Flozell Adams and the insertion of Torrin Tucker to replace him, the lack of depth at OT was exposed. The Cowboys were forced to use help from the tight ends on both sides for the remainder of the season.

Free agent Jason Fabini, who played for Parcells with the Jets, could provide an answer but would fail to add any youth to an aging group of starters. The best long-term answer seems to present itself in a draft deep in offensive linemen. With their first round pick, 18th overall, the Cowboys could select Jonathan Scott (TEXAS), Marcus McNeil (AUBURN) or Winston Justice (USC). Daryn Colledge (BOISE ST), Ryan O'Callaghan (CAL) and Jeremy Trueblood (BC) should be available should they decide to wait until the 2nd or 3rd rounds. A dark horse candidate could be Mike Williams, former #4 pick overall by Buffalo, as Parcells has a history of motivating underachieving OL (e.g., Flozell Adams).

Inside Linebacker
The retirement of Dat Nyugen leaves the Cowboys thin at the Inside linebacker position. Backups Ryan Fowler and Scott Shanle filled in well but offer different strengths - Fowler is stronger against the run while Shanle is better in coverage. Together, they would make a great ILB, but the team can ill afford to go with a rotation this year.

With Parcells taste for big, athletic linebackers, taking Chad Greenway (IOWA) if he were to fall to them in the 1st, and switching him to the inside, would be a great choice. Abdul Hodge (IOWA) would be a good fit if he fell to the Cowboys pick in the 2nd. Kai Parham (UVA) could be available late in the 3rd. Freddie Roach (ALA) or Oliver Hoyte, (N.C.) should be there in the later part of the draft. Ahmad Brooks (UVA) is another prospect the team may target in the supplemental draft, although his off-field problems and durability questions may dissuade the Cowboys from using a future pick on him.

Outside Linebacker
With the injuries to Al Singleton and Kevin Burnett and Scott Fujita being an UFA, improving the depth at OLB will be primary focus of the Cowboys. Internet chat rooms have speculated about the possibility of former Redskin LaVar Arrington donning the silver and blue. However, Arrington's recent comments suggest that Dallas has a slim chance of acquiring his services. Willie McGinest is another free agent possibility due to his history with Parcells, although his age and salary demands may put him off the Cowboys' radar.

Look for the Cowboys to instead address this position through the draft. Manny Lawson (NC State) and Bobby Carpenter (OSU) and tweeners Kamerion Wimbley (FSU) and Tamba Hali (PSU) are possibilities in the first and second rounds.

Free Safety
At the beginning of the season Parcells tried starting special teams dynamo Keith Davis as the starting FS. Davis, however, did not live up to expectations. The Cowboys secondary is pretty solid with Newman and Henry on the corners and Williams at SS but they are in need of a ball hawk at free safety.

Free agents Chris Hope from the Steelers and Will Demps of Baltimore could be free agent possibilities, but could price themselves out of the Cowboys' range. Most likely, the Cowboys will fill other team needs with their first couple of selections in the draft. There are several options in the draft who could fill their needs such as Jason Allen (TENN) and Daniel Bullocks (NEB) in the 2nd or Pat Watkins (FSU) or Anthony Smith (SYR) in the 3rd or 4th.

For sixteen years kicking Coach Steve Hoffman had provided the Cowboys more than adequate kickers at a low cost. Attempts at finding an adequate kicker last season after letting Hoffman go however, proved to be fruitless.

The Cowboys will probably look into spending some money in free agency for an answer. Mike Vanderjagt, Ryan Longwell, and Adam Vinatieri are unrestricted agents but could ask for more than Jones is willing to pay. Matt Bryant would cost less and more than likely is the best fit for the Cowboys. If the Cowboys were to consider a kicker in the draft Connor Hughes, (VA) or Jon Scifres, (MO) availability should be watched during the last couple of rounds. Either would be a good choice since they would need little coaching.

Nose Tackle
With the release of La’Roi Glover the Cowboys lose some pass rushing ability from the nose tackle position. While Jason Ferguson is an adequate run stopper, he does not get a lot of pressure up the middle and missed some time with injuries. The Cowboys are now left with only the undersized Thomas “Pepper” Johnson, signed last year as an undrafted free agent, behind Ferguson. They need someone to backup and eventually takeover for Ferguson. If Maake Kemoeatu were to test the free agent market, he would be a perfect fit in Dallas. Sam Adams could be another FA possibility.

Gabe Watson (MICH) or Babatunde Oshinowo (STAN) could be great picks for the 3-4 defense. Jesse Mahelona (TENN) has the prototypical size for a nose tackle and could be found in the middle rounds. Steve Fifita (UTAH) though a little short for the position at 5’11” could be a good pick in later rounds.

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