The Cowboys had trouble doing the little things in 2011, and it was their inability to find consistency on offense, defense and special teams that cost them a number of close games in 2012.
Fixing these issues starts with a strong line on both sides of the ball, which is why Dallas should draft David DeCastro in the first round on the NFL draft.
The guard has the prototypical size and build for successful linemen in the league at 6’5”, 316 pounds, and he is nasty in the trenches. He does not get beat in pass protection and is a force in run protection.
He is not an elite athlete, but has pristine technique that more than makes up for what he lacks in athleticism.
DeCastro wouldn’t be the sexiest pick that the Cowboys could make. He’s not a game changing pass-rusher off the edge or up the middle, and he’s not a playmaker on the outside at cornerback. But he is considered to be one of the best interior line prospects of the last decade, and would do wonders to shore up a guard slot that was questionable at best last season.
The All-American from Stanford protected Andrew Luck for the past few seasons and kept him upright, and everyone knows how good he was while standing—he’s just slotted as the first overall pick and the has the tag as “best prospect since Elway.”
Just as importantly however, Stanford’s rushing attack was equally as strong. The Cardinal averaged 201.8 rushing yards a game, good for 18th overall in the nation.
This is pretty impressive considering the consensus No. 1 overall pick is on the roster, and speaks volumes to how good DeCastro and the Stanford line were run blocking last season.
If DeCastro came to Dallas, he would help do the same for a Cowboys' line that is in desperate need of help at guard.
Starting left guard Kyle Kosier looked really bad last season as he was consistently beat in pass-protection and struggled to get a push in the run game. Kosier has been with the Cowboys a long time, but it looks as if age has caught up with him.
The rest of the guards weren’t exactly stellar either. Veterans Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery were both bad all season, struggling with injuries, penalties and, most importantly, staying in front of their blocks.
And the other guard who saw playing time, rookie David Arkin, looked just that—a rookie—as he struggled to adjust to the speed of the NFL game.
If the Cowboys selected DeCastro, it would shore up a huge hole on the interior of their line. Decastro would immediately slide in as the starter on the left side, and the Cowboys would have the choice of allowing Arkin to develop on the right side or peruse a free agent to finish up the O-line.
Plus, if you draft DeCastro to play on the left side, Dallas could pair him with last year’s first-round pick Tyron Smith, setting up the Cowboys' blind side for the next 10-15 years.
Many mock drafts have the Cowboys selecting Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. While he is an excellent corner prospect and would be an immediate upgrade over Terance Newman, the need at corner is not nearly as immediate as the issues in the trenches.
Plus, Kirkpatrick has had his share of character issues, seen in his recent arrest for possession of marijuana.
DeCastro, on the other hand, is considered to be a high-character player and a very hard worker. There is not much to dislike about this prospect from Palo Alto.
Others are calling for Dallas to select Dontari Poe, the workout warrior from Memphis who turned heads at the combine with his sub 5-second speed and 6’4”, 345-pound frame.
But the thing is, when Poe played at Memphis, he didn’t even put up stellar numbers there. He only had 33 tackles and one sack last season and was only a second team All-Conference USA selection.
If he couldn’t put up big numbers at a small football school like Memphis, what makes people think he would be able to produce at the highest level in the NFL?
DeCastro had no such issues in the Pac-12, and he is considered one of the safest prospects in this year’s draft.
He would address a major area of need for the Cowboys and would keep Tony Romo on his feet and healthy in 2012, which is why he is the right choice for “America’s Team” in the first round of the draft.