With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Cowboys had a lot to take from this week’s combine, as their best chance of improving in 2013 will be to build through the draft.
Because the Cowboys are $20 million over the cap, their ability to get players in free agency are slim to none. So finding the right pieces in April’s annual selection is paramount.
Here are five of the biggest takeaways for the Cowboys during the combine.
All combine stats via NFL.com.
Cooper is a guard from UNC who's high on many scouts' lists. He is one of the best guards available and will hear his name called in the first round of April's draft.
The Cowboys are in need of help along the offensive line, and Cooper may be the answer.
During the combine, Cooper was able to bench 225 pounds 35 times, good enough for second best. Ohio guard Eric Herman was tops with 36.
While the bench press isn't the most impressive feat for a prospect to do, it does show that Cooper's strength may be sustainable at the next level.
For those inside blitzes that the Cowboys' offensive line failed to pick up and protect Romo from, Cooper's strength shows that he should be able to hold blocks long enough so that Romo can get rid of the ball.
The Cowboys will either go offensive or defensive line in the first round based on their needs. The guard position is of concern as well as depth at the tackle position.
On the other side of the line, the Cowboys just need more consistency in rushing the passer.
Richardson is one of the more athletic defensive tackles in the draft who has the ability to make an immediate impact for the Cowboys up front.
During the combine, he graded out at 90.7, benched 225 pounds 30 times, and ran the 40-yard dash in five seconds.
He's NFL ready, and if the Cowboys decide to take him in the first round, he should start right away.
I'm of the thought that the Cowboys need another running back. Besides possibly losing Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray hasn't proved himself sturdy enough to trust. So the Cowboys have to protect themselves and find a suitable reserve.
Former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore may be that player.
Lattimore shredded his knee in October and was lost for the season. He's been rehabbing since then, and while he wasn't able to participate in drills, all 32 NFL teams were able to examine and interview him.
During the interview, Lattimore emphasized that NFL team doctors thought that he was coming along well and in a good place.
The Cowboys were one of the teams to sit down for an interview with Lattimore, but that doesn't mean they will draft him.
But the best thing that I took away from Lattimore's combine press interview was his professionalism and modest nature.
He recognizes that he has a lot of work to do and was ok with being prodded by every team due to the amount of money being invested.
I really like Lattimore, and I hope that the Cowboys will take a serious look at him to draft.
Warmack has the pedigree of the University of Alabama in him. He was coached by Nick Saban and is coming off of a National Championship win against Notre Dame in January.
I'm looking at guard here again, because the Cowboys' offense did such a poor job of protecting the middle for Romo.
it was not necessarily any lineman's fault, as there were a lot of moving parts, but the Cowboys need to add consistency.
If they aren't sold on Cooper, Warmack is a pretty good alternative.
He didn't bench and only ran the 40 and did the broad jump. That should have been enough for many teams as Warmack has enough on tape for teams to look at.
Warmack graded out high (95.9), has the strength to hold blocks and has tremendous foot work.
Vaccaro is scheduled to meet with the Cowboys before the draft, and for good reason.
Outside of Dallas' ineptitude on the offensive and defensive line, they are short in the defensive backfield.
Vaccaro is a solid option as an upgrade at safety, but if they want him, they'll have to choose him in the first round.
The need at guard and defensive tackle is too great and the talent too deep for the Cowboys to pick Vaccaro so high, but I've been wrong before.
At any rate, Vaccaro's draft grade was solid at 87.7. He only participated in the bench press, and the tape of his days at Texas will have to do the talking.
The good thing about Vaccaro is that he can play free and strong safety in the NFL and is a fantastic blitzer. He has fluid motion in his hips and knows how to make a tackle.
If anything, the Cowboys need a player who can make an open field tackle.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com