The Dallas Cowboys may be coming off an impressive win at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that doesn't mean that problems don't exist on this team. Injuries have attributed to the lack of roster depth but, then again, I'm pretty sure the same is going on in a little over 30 cities around the NFL.
The Cowboys are in a three-team battle for at least one playoff spot with two games left, but at the same time another battle is going on behind the scenes. The scouts have been at it hard since spring practice at NCAA fields across the country, right up through the imminent college bowl mania.
For the Cowboys, and their fans, this means it's never too early for mock drafts. The 2013 draft will be yet another critical process in revamping, reshaping and constructing this roster into a winner. With a solid core still intact and several young players on the rise in Dallas, it's now time to attack the problem areas.
Let's take a look at how the Cowboys can start solving them.
This will probably continue to be the sexy first-round pick in numerous mock drafts and for good reason. With the interior line being an issue for multiple years, the Cowboys really have an opportunity to solidify this position for the future. Warmack is an elite guard prospect the Cowboys should covet for a multitude of reasons.
He will give them versatility, someone who has excelled in the toughest conference in college football and a player that can help immediately in both the running and passing games. With the Cowboys expected to be picking somewhere beyond the middle of the draft, this is truly where value meets pick.
It's time to wage a war in the trenches and fill their biggest need.
It's becoming more apparent that Anthony Spencer may have a long-term future in Dallas, but it's time that the Cowboys fill the need to add more pass rush and more impact on this defense. While players like Victor Butler, Kyle Wilber and Alex Albright add versatility and special teams ability to the Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware can't play forever.
It's time to have some more options.
Anthony Barr's a long, lean, athletic and an explosive hitter that could stand to add some bulk to his frame but we are talking playmaking ability. He has a huge upside to his game and is probably getting by on sheer athletic ability, but with a little polish, the Cowboys may find themselves with a defensive gem.
When you watch DeMarco Murray play since his return, it's hard not to appreciate the value of a solid running game. But the problem is two-fold for Dallas in this department. The first being the impending departure of Felix Jones due to free agency, but also it's time the Cowboys look in another direction.
Secondly, Murray has dealt with injury and missing significant playing time for the second straight season and that's a concern. In the third round is where the Cowboys make their move, and Stepfan Taylor is their man. He is a tough, steady runner who can get the tough inside yards while also displaying that deceptive quickness to break runs to the outside as well.
He would be the perfect complement to Murray while serving as insurance while developing his game. It's tough at this point to get any type of barometer on Lance Dunbar or Phillip Tanner, but it's also hard to envision either of those players to be long-term contributors.
Ricky Wagner is a big, 6'6", 320-pound tackle who will fill a need along the offensive line and could either be an immediate contributor or compete with Jermey Parnell for significant playing time. The Cowboys could also elect to address the tackle position in free agency, but it appears that the Doug Free show is going dark.
The Cowboys can't afford to ignore any weaknesses along the offensive line anymore, and Jerry Jones has had to learn a few expensive lessons along the way. Wagner gives the Cowboys another young tackle who can grow into a long-term solution at a much-needed position. Wagner isn't an elite tackle, but grabbing him in the fourth round is tremendous value for a player who has battled tough competition.
Everett Dawkins is a 6'3", 310-pound defensive lineman who could add some versatility to a Cowboys' unit that has seen Jay Ratliff battle injuries and a clear lack of depth. He can play on the interior line and is versatile enough to slide over to defensive end. With the anticipated departure of Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears and potentially Ratliff, the Cowboys need to address this area.
Even if a player such as Spears sticks around, the Cowboys need an infusion of youth to this defensive line to pair with Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford for the future.
In the sixth round, the Cowboys address the safety position by grabbing Duke Williams of Nevada. I just watched him play in Nevada's bowl game loss to Arizona, but it's clear that he is one of their best defenders by his ability to anchor the secondary. He is a sure-handed tackler, he reads coverages well and possesses great anticipation skills.
I've watched some of his 2011 campaign as well, and he finished last season with 78 tackles while earning all-conference honors. The Cowboys will have a logjam at safety, but Danny McCray needs to return to special teams duties, Barry Church will be coming back from Achilles surgery, Matt Johnson can't stay on the field, and Charlie Peprah is only signed through this season.
The Cowboys need to add a young safety to the mix, and Williams could provide that. Even though Gerald Sensabaugh has been steady all season, he continues to play hurt, and the Cowboys can't always rely on that.
Every draft has it's version of Vontaze Burfict, and Tyrann Mathieu will be this year's. In the 2012 draft, the New England Patriots turned Alfonzo Dennard into a seventh-round starter, and the former LSU Tiger might turn into the same.
Heck, why not. Yes, he's troubled and has had some issues, but the likelihood of Mike Jenkins returning is slim, Orlando Scandrick is no lock to stick around due to salary cap concerns and you can never have enough cornerbacks, right?
It would be hard to imagine players like Vincent Agnew, Michael Coe and perhaps Sterling Moore sticking around, so taking a chance of this player at this stage of the draft (on the assumption he's around) could be genius. Maybe reconnecting him with former teammate Morris Claiborne might help? Maybe he can return kicks and then further define his role?
This is a very very early mock draft, but that's why these scenarios are created. This pick certainly gives us something to think about and might fill a need more than you would think.