While the Ravens and 49ers bask in the glow of the Super Bowl spotlight, the Dallas Cowboys will be hunkered down in Mobile, Alabama, evaluating prospects during Senior Bowl week. The North and South rosters are packed with talent that could remedy the Cowboys' roster needs.
The Cowboys have many spots to fill and only possess six draft picks. What to do, what to do? That will be the ultimate decision facing Jerry Jones and his group of decision makers. But no matter how well the scouts and coaches set the table, will Jones be able to deliver the meal?
From my perspective and passion for scouting, the key to successful talent evaluation is to trust what you see.
That's why this offseason is so critical for the Cowboys and their development during the Jason Garrett era, an era that continues on its trend of mediocrity set in motion over 15 years ago by the same man who fired Jimmy Johnson.
If the Cowboys can continue to build momentum in this draft and add to the existing young core of players, it just might reflect in the win column. With lots of prospects to evaluate, let's focus on some that the Cowboys must certainly be watching.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Okafor would be an ideal 4-3 defensive end in Monte Kiffin's defense. He shows explosiveness off the ball, a tremendous ability to get to the quarterback and a disruptive force. All you need to do is watch the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, in which he posted 4.5 sacks and was basically a menace all game.
Datone Jones, DT, UCLA
Jones possesses a blend of speed and power that would fit nicely in Dallas. He has already made an impression through one day of practices at the Senior Bowl, and his stock has nowhere to go but up. Looking back at some of his Pac-12 performances, there is a player with a high motor and someone who knows how to pursue his target. A very intriguing prospect.
Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
With safety a position of need for the Cowboys, despite a lot of players already in the mix, Cyprien would be a welcome addition. I watched his play during Senior Bowl practices, and he did a nice job in coverage drills; he showed good fluidity and closing ability. It's hard to tell whether Jerry Jones would spend a first-round pick on Kenny Vaccaro, so it might be time to target second-day prospects.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt's popularity among the Cowboys Nation fanbase is evident, and he happens to be right in Jerry Jones' backyard. Hunt is quite the physical specimen, standing 6'8" and weighing 278 pounds, so it's common to gravitate to these types of players.
When you analyze his season at SMU, he was a little inconsistent at times. But his raw ability, combined with his days as a former track and field athlete, could make him hard to pass up. The Cowboys must keep tabs on his performance.
Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
Now that the Cowboys have switched to a 4-3 defense, it could be an ideal time to find a fast sideline-to-sideline player who can make tackles for Monte Kiffin. Greene would fit the bill, and he brings a nice combination of strength and speed to his game.
Brandon Williams, NT, Missouri Southern
Josh Brent is a major question mark to return, and now, after getting arrested for DWI, so is Jay Ratliff. The Cowboys were horrendous versus the run, and reflecting on Alfred Morris' performance in the season finale may induce vomiting. The Cowboys might want to keep Williams high on their radar if they plan on improving the core of the defense. At 6'3" and 325 pounds, he would be an ideal fit.
Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse
Offensive line is a definite area of need for the Cowboys, as protecting Tony Romo and establishing the running game will be pivotal avenues for success in 2013. Pugh would be an ideal fit along the interior of the offensive line. He's 6'5 and 297 pounds, his technique is sound, and he would fill a major need for the Cowboys.
Brian Winters, OL, Kent State
Winters is a 6'6" mauler who plays with a bit of a mean streak. That's just what the Cowboys could actually use, but in the meantime, he's another interior-line prospect with a little versatility to his game. It would be hard to imagine players like Derrek Dockery and David Arkin would be back with the Cowboys, so it's time to solidify this offensive line.
Ricky Wagner, OL, Wisconsin
Doug Free's marginal play and bad contract might make for an uncomfortable offseason. Enter Ricky Wagner. Wagner is a big tackle who could be available in the early to mid rounds. He's worth keeping on the radar and, at a minimum, would be in the running for a starting job in 2013.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon / Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
With running back also an area of need for the Cowboys, both of these players could be viable options between the second and fourth rounds. Barner is a smaller, explosive back who could be that true home-run threat Felix Jones never was. Franklin is a tough back who follows his blocks well but can also bounce a run outside.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas / Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
If the Cowboys are looking for another offensive weapon to take attention away from Dez Bryant, then these two players are worth a look. Think speed, speed and more speed. Goodwin possesses track speed, and Dobson is an intriguing prospect who measures in 6'2" and 206 pounds. Either addition could pose significant headaches to opposing defenses.
There is a lot of talent at the 2013 Senior Bowl. As each day of practice passes with the build up to the actual game, a lot of questions will be answered about all of these prospects. With the Cowboys facing yet another crucial offseason, it's time to hit some home runs in the draft.
And put an ease to all the feelings of discomfort.