With the 14th pick in next week's NFL Draft, the Cowboys will be faced with a tough decision on who to select. Although they have quite a list of needs, the time has come to really focus on who should be under serious consideration.
Michael Brockers and Mark Barron are probably the first two names that surface for the Cowboys' top pick.
Many mock draft scenarios and experts seem to have a consensus that Barron will be the pick and there has been mention of Brockers as well. While there are other names like Dre Kirkpatrick, Dontari Poe and David DeCastro with ties to the Cowboys, it seems clear that Barron has also become the fans' choice as well.
Let's take a look at these two prospects to determine who would be the better fit now and in the future for this franchise.
Barron is a 6'1", 215-pound safety who posted some major credentials while at Alabama. He's a two-time first team All-American who finished his career with 235 tackles, 12 interceptions and 34 pass deflections.
He started over 30 games in three seasons at Alabama while leading one of the most impressive defenses in quite some time at the college level.
Better Fit for the Cowboys
He did miss the combine while recovering from hernia surgery but the injury will not limit him in terms of the NFL season. It has certainly not affected his draft stock.
When you watch Barron play, and what excites Cowboy fans, is that he is always around the ball. His reaction to offensive sets and formations is probably what sets him apart from other safety prospects along with his anticipation skills.
He would be able to help Rob Ryan's unit in both run support and blitzing. Overall, when you watch Barron's game footage, you see an excellent safety with a tremendous skill set.
He's a solid tackler, very instinctive and his knack for being around the ball shows you the level of involvement. He has potential the likes of which we haven't seen since the Darren Woodson days.
I do think Barron will need some adjusting in the coverage aspect of his game. Because Alabama had such a solid defense with excellent cornerbacks, Barron wasn't isolated in coverage a lot especially in slot formations.
Playing in the NFC East might require him to cover more but I feel he can adapt his game as such. He's that good.
Brockers, who stands 6'6" and 320 pounds, would be able to play either defensive tackle or end in Rob Ryan's alignment. Not only would this allow Jay Ratliff to be more versatile, but Brockers' athleticism in relation to his size makes him quite an intriguing prospect.
The Cowboys need to come out of this draft with a pass rusher and Brockers could be that target. In addition, the Cowboys defensive line fell short of expectations last season and needs an upgrade.
Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman had subpar years and Jay Ratilff can no longer shoulder the load as he battled injury and at times looked tired.
Looking at his game footage you see a high-motor player with exceptional quickness off the snap. You can point to all the problems in the secondary for the Cowboys but more pressure up front can help fix that as the Giants have proven.
His quickness along the defensive front would be a welcome addition for this team, as it is sorely lacking.
He is also a solid run defender, especially when pursuing running backs. Brockers is also a player who is still growing and learning the game, which makes his potential that much more enticing at the 14th pick.
At times he seemed to rely too much on pure athleticism, but in a few years he could emerge as a beast on the defensive line with some coaching.
How They Fit
The bottom line here is that the Cowboys need playmakers on defense. Barron not only is a playmaker but he has consistently proven the ability to make plays on one of the top defenses in the toughest conference in college football.
He is clearly the top safety prospect in this draft and would provide an instant upgrade to the secondary from day one and for the unforeseeable future. The crop of safeties is thinner in comparison to the defensive linemen in this year's draft and Barron is clearly the top of the class.
Brockers would provide the Cowboys with a versatile defensive lineman that possesses excellent size and quickness. He could impact this defense right away and become the anchor of the defensive line for years to come. With the Cowboys needing a pass rusher, he might be just too good to pass up.
Both players would not only be excellent fits for the Cowboys, but they would be getting good value while filling some of their biggest needs.
I could see both players becoming major building blocks for the future that would get this defense to the level it needs to be. The fact that he's visiting the Cowboys might be a sign of that.
Who The Cowboys Should Select
When you look at both of these players an argument can be made supporting either of them. The safety class is weaker than defensive line so selecting Barron would ensure getting the top prospect.
With the defensive line position much deeper in this year's draft, the Cowboys might be able to land a solid prospect in the second round even though Brockers is more talented.
I've felt all along that cornerback was going to be the selection for the Dallas Cowboys. But if the secondary is going to be fixed correctly, safety needs to be included in that group as well.
On the flip side, the lack of a pass rush at times last year simply destroyed this defense and allowed big plays as a result.
With the chance to land the top safety in the draft and finally solidify the secondary I believe the Cowboys will select Barron. I also feel that Brockers will be a top 10 pick. The Cowboys will be getting a solid player and more importantly, a building block for the future.