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Breaking Down What Dallas Cowboys' Offseason Moves Mean for the NFL Draft

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIOctober 25, 2016

Breaking Down What Dallas Cowboys' Offseason Moves Mean for the NFL Draft

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    All has been quiet for the Dallas Cowboys this free-agency period down on Valley Ranch, which puts the team's emphasis on the 2013 NFL draft.

    Dallas has made a few signings and used its franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for the second straight season, but the team has been plagued by salary-cap woes.

    Let's take a look at the few moves the Cowboys have made and what they mean for the team's draft plans.

Free-Agent Losses

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    Cuts

    DE  Marcus Spears
    LB Dan Connor
    S Gerald Sensabaugh

     

    Players Signed by Other Teams

    Position Player New Team  
    WR Kevin Ogletree Tampa Bay Buccaneers  
    TE John Phillips San Diego Chargers  

     

    The loss of Dan Connor, Kevin Ogletree and John Phillips are not great ones by any means. Dallas has plenty of inside linebackers and just re-signed Ernie Sims. Phillips was the team's third option at tight end. But losing Sensabaugh is a tad unexpected.

    With Sensabaugh gone, the Cowboys will be forced to address the safety position early in the draft this year or try to roll the dice with Matt Johnson and Barry Church. With names like Florida's Matt Elam in this draft, the Cowboys could very easily be tempted to take a safety.

    As far as defensive end is concerned, the Cowboys are going to have to find a few draft picks to fit in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. Honestly, the team was probably going to draft a defensive lineman in this draft whether Spears was still on the roster or not, so his loss doesn't change the draft needs here.

Free-Agent Additions

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    Signings

    LB Ernie Sims
    OLB Anthony Spencer
    LS L.P. Ladouceur

    The Ernie Sims signing gives the Cowboys little reason to target ab inside linebacker in the draft. The same goes for long snapper with Ladouceur re-signed—nobody needs a backup long snapper.

    Spencer, however, is a different story. Dallas would be wise to draft a possible replacement in the later rounds just in case.

    There's no guarantee the Cowboys will have Spencer on the roster this time next year, at least not yet. That fact likely will not change before the draft, so a cheap insurance policy makes sense.

Possible Draft Target: S Matt Elam, Florida

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    Matt Elam is one of the top safeties in the draft this season, and Dallas would be wise to do its due diligence scouting him.

    The former Gator stands 5'10" and has that knack for finding the ball-carrier that any NFL coach wants. He's also able to defend wide receivers that have a height advantage against him. CBS Sports has him going No. 22 overall to St. Louis, but he could certainly fall to the second round and into Dallas' lap.

    With Gerald Sensabaugh gone, the Cowboys would have to rely on an inexperienced duo in the secondary next season. The same secondary the team spent a first-round pick to improve just last season when it drafted Morris Claiborne. 

    Owner Jerry Jones even admitted he's worried about the situation, telling Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "I like Church, don't know about Johnson."

    Dallas has been in need of drafting a top-level safety for a few years now, and Elam is the best option to feel that need.

Possible Draft Target: DE Cornellius Carradine, Florida State

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    With Marcus Spears gone and the move to the 4-3 coming this training camp, FSU's Cornellius Carradine makes sense early in the draft.

    Carradine is explosive once the center snaps the football and doesn't give up on plays. He's strong, talented and his ACL injury from last season could mean some teams steer clear. Carradine had 80 tackles in his senior season despite not starting at the outset.

    That means Dallas might be able to get a potential first- or second-round talent at a cheaper price. The former Seminole has huge upside, and Dallas would be smart to invest in that potential while it can.

Possible Draft Target: WR Denard Robinson, Michigan

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    The Cowboys were linked to wide receiver Josh Cribbs earlier this free-agency period, and Denard Robinson would be the perfect substitute for him. Robinson was a quarterback while with the Wolverines, but he could make a great kick- and punt-return option.

    He's shown his ability to elude tacklers after breaking the pocket in college and is worth a late-round flier to see if he can do the same on returns. Dwayne Harris did well in this role last season, but pursuing Cribbs might mean his time is over as a returner. 

    With Kevin Ogletree gone and considering Harris' 2012 season, the latter should be the team's new slot receiver in 2013. If he's filling a starting role, Harris shouldn't be the team's top returner.

    Robinson would be a perfect fit in this role if the Cowboys can get him late in the draft and is certainly worth a flier. 

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