When we first established a draft board for the 'Boys coming out of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, we were going heavy on pass-rushers and those who lived in the trenches, but things have since changed and now we're leaning in different directions.
There are definitely some factors to consider here. First, Anthony Spencer was hit with the franchise tag in early March and now word has emerged, via ESPN's Ed Werder, that the two sides are negotiating a multi-year deal.
That deal could free up cap space for the 'Boys to sign a veteran safety and/or linebacker and/or offensive tackle and/or guard. And if or when those signings happen, the positions of need that aren't addressed on the open market will become bigger priorities in the draft.
Spencer's very presence is why we're staying away from defensive ends this time. And the fact that it looks like he'll be sticking around beyond 2013 clinches it. The Cowboys have to be thinking offensive line or safety early in the draft. I understand that linebacker is also a need, but you can find non-pass-rushing linebackers later or elsewhere.
Now, they have 2012 fourth-round picks Matt Johnson and Kyle Wilber to replace Gerald Sensabaugh and Dan Connor, but they also know that fourth-round picks are toss-ups in this league. The difference is their options stop there at safety, which is a very important position in this defense. At SAM linebacker, there are several starting candidates beyond Wilber. Plus, I don't think using a first-round pick on a 4-3 linebacker is smart, especially when you have other, more glaring needs to address.
Draft stocks will rise and sink, and priorities will change. But with one month to go until Round 1, this is how the Cowboys should be planning for the NFL draft.
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