The free-agent signing period is well underway and it's been a rather quiet offseason for the Dallas Cowboys on that front. But rather quiet does not mean silent and the actions taken so far have certainly helped to shape the Dallas draft board, even if this is still a work in progress.
The biggest Dallas Cowboys news this offseason is last week's anticipated contract extension for quarterback Tony Romo. This was the right move for both financial and competitive reasons, despite what former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had to say about the deal.
Then again, McNabb knows all about that lone playoff victory for Romo because it came against him following the 2009 NFL regular season.
Just wanted to clear that up.
So, Romo's extension sets the stage for the 2013 NFL draft later this month simply because the Cowboys will have money to sign draft picks.
This is a good thing because Dallas has only six selections at this time and the pressure is on to hit on as many of those picks as possible.
Obviously free agency has not changed the depth chart a whole lot, especially when considering losses like defensive lineman Marcus Spears, safety Gerald Sensabaugh and outside linebacker Victor Butler.
Recent signings like outside linebackers Ernie Sims and Justin Durant, safety Will Allen and the franchising of Anthony Spencer have helped to an extent. But this wasn't exactly the greatest free-agent class to begin with and that means that the draft is where future building blocks have to come from.
The Cowboys have to continue reversing the trend of horrible drafts like those that closed the previous decade.
From the 2008 draft, which included basically two first-round busts, only cornerback Orlando Scandrick, a backup, figures to have a role in Dallas moving forward.
From the 2009 draft there is nobody left following Victor Butler's signing with New Orleans. Sadly, the Cowboys had 12 picks that year.
Things have gotten better, especially in the early rounds, since 2010 and the Cowboys have to keep that up. Dallas is a team with talent, some of it aging, but a younger corps of players has begun to appear and America's Team has to capitalize on those recent additions in this year's draft.
I'm projecting the Cowboys with seven selections based on either the trade of a player or their 18th selection in the first round. Remember that this draft is deep and also that Dallas lost a second-round selection a year ago in trading up for cornerback Morris Claiborne. With no significant upgrades via free agency, the more blue-chip prospects the better.
Since all players retained or acquired have not addressed major weaknesses, Dallas will be in fine position to capitalize on this deep draft. There will be plenty to choose from even into the mid-rounds of the annual selection meeting beginning April 25 in New York City.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com