The Dallas Cowboys made a huge splash in the 2012 NFL draft Thursday night by trading up to the sixth overall pick and selecting cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys drafted the best cornerback in the draft but had to part ways with their second-round pick to do so.
Now the Cowboys are left with only one Day 2 draft selection in the third round, No. 81 overall.
The Cowboys still have a couple positions they need to improve upon, including their offensive and defensive lines and their pass rush.
Look for the Cowboys to continue to fill needs with their third-round pick. Here are seven potential prospects for the Cowboys on Day 2 of the NFL draft.
I had been projecting Ronnell Lewis to the Cowboys in the second round but there is still a slight possibility Lewis could be available when the Cowboys pick in the third.
Lewis is the fast pass-rusher off the edge that the Cowboys need to pair with Anthony Spencer. Lewis can replace Spencer in obvious passing situations and help the Cowboys create havoc in the backfield.
There was a lot of discussion about the Cowboys drafting a nose tackle in the first round and moving Jay Ratliff to defensive end. The Cowboys went in a different direction but that could have been because they thought Claiborne was too good to pass on.
If the Cowboys still want to move Ratliff outside, they can draft Alameda Ta’amu.
Ta’amu may not be as talented as Fletcher Cox or as physically gifted as Dontari Poe, but he can still be an effective run-stuffer in the NFL.
Ta’amu can clog the middle and free Ratliff to rush off the edge.
The Cowboys signed two offensive guards in free agency this offseason but that would not stop Jason Garrett from drafting another in the third round.
Brandon Washington could compete from day one for a starting job with the Cowboys on their offensive line.
Washington would help Tony Romo stay healthy for the entire season, making him an excellent third-round selection.
In my opinion, Ronnell Lewis will be selected before the Cowboys draft again, meaning they may have to look for a different option at outside linebacker. Josh Kaddu should be that player.
Kaddu is quick off the edge and knows how to pressure the quarterback.
Rob Ryan needs cornerbacks and pass-rushers for his defense to work. Last year the Cowboys struggled in both of those areas.
Now that the Cowboys solved one of those problems, there is a good chance the Cowboys try to solve the pass-rushing problem on Day 2.
Jared Crick does not possess all of the physical gifts to make him stand out as a pass-rusher, but he does have a high motor and the nasty attitude to succeed on the defensive line.
If Crick is still available, the Cowboys could keep Jay Ratliff at nose tackle and still improve their pass rush by selecting Crick to play defensive line.
Crick can play both inside and outside on the defensive line and would give Rob Ryan flexibility in his game plans.
Most people believed the Cowboys eyed safety Mark Barron in the first round.
The Cowboys may have believed Claiborne was too good not to draft and figured they could draft a safety later in the draft.
Markelle Martin would be a fit in the third round.
Martin does not have Barron’s ability but he can still be an upgrade over their current situation.
Martin would also have the benefit of not having to play immediately.
Antonio Allen is another option in lieu of Mark Barron.
If the Cowboys decide to select Allen, they would have completed the transformation of their secondary.
Jerry Jones said there would be a lot of new faces in the secondary this season and he has stuck to his word.
Look for the Cowboys to add one more player at the safety before the draft is over.