With the NFC Scouting Combine still a few weeks away and the NFL postseason heating up, mock drafts are already popping up and draft speculation is full speed ahead.
Having missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season, things got pretty interesting for the Dallas Cowboys following last week’s personnel changes on the coaching staff. Most notable was the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan followed by the hiring of his replacement in Monte Kiffin.
This is not simply moving in another body to try to improve the status quo. This is why former head coach Wade Phillips was hired following the departure of Bill Parcells, the founder of the 3-4 in Dallas. Phillips was a 3-4 guy, and then Rob Ryan was a 3-4 guy.
Kiffin will install his well known 4-3 playbook and will utilize most of the personnel the Cowboys already have.
But while most, like myself, figure that Dallas needs to draft an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft come April, this certainly doesn’t mean that the Cowboys will—or should for that matter.
No longer is there a need for a massive, run-stuffing nose guard, the likes of which never appeared at Valley Ranch during the 3-4 nightmare.
Also, outside linebacker Anthony Spencer went from being an offseason priority for the Cowboys, as an unrestricted free agent, to just a really wealthy guy who’s about to put a house up for sale.
If there is a difference-making player, especially of the pass rushing variety, then the offensive line might have to wait. Keep in mind that the Cowboys strategy in free agency is likely different as well since Spencer isn’t likely to eat up most of the money Dallas does have to spend. There will be contracts re-structured, possibly a release or two or perhaps even a trade, each as a means of creating cap room.
And remember that the Cowboys can do anything with owner and general manager Jerry Jones in charge of the war room.
So here’s a look at 10 defensive players that could temp the Cowboys to hold off on adding a blue-chip blocker for quarterback Tony Romo and an offense that could also see big chances right away.
This is a major change on the defensive side of the ball and there are personnel questions that will have to be answered. These players would not only answer questions but would be chosen based on a different philosophy regarding stature and skill set.
The following players are projected on likely availability to the Cowboys with the 18th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.