The 2013 NFL draft cannot come soon enough, and for Cowboys fans, that means a real chance at some tangible offseason results. With the Cowboys abstaining from major free-agency activity, the time has finally come to add some pieces to the roster.
With a punch list of roster needs and the endless search for talent, the Cowboys need to be strategic, opportunistic and focused heading into this draft. This a deep draft at certain positions, some of which happen to coincide with the most pressing needs of this franchise.
Offensive line, defensive line, running back and safety are just the most pressing needs, but the Cowboys could use a wide receiver or tight end if the right prospect fell into their laps. The most important factor to consider in anticipation of the draft is in finding good football players. It sounds simple conceptually, but it's been difficult in achievement for Jerry Jones.
With so much emphasis on whether combine results matched game footage and whether the Senior Bowl provided any answers, the Cowboys simply need to find football players who can contribute to the present and future of this team.
The Cowboys still have a lot of unfinished business this offseason, but the draft represents the biggest form of resolution to date. Focusing in on the right targets is no simple task and hoping that they live up to their draft billing is an entirely different issue.
But exactly who are the right draft prospects for the Cowboys? Well, unfortunately, talent evaluation isn't exactly the fortune telling business, but it needs to be pretty close.
Let's take a look at the prospects who just might be the right fits for the Cowboys.
Cooper is considered one of the top, if not the top, offensive linemen in the draft. The 6'3", 315-pound North Carolina product is an athletic, versatile and deceptively powerful lineman who's an explosive blocker.
Cooper uses his agility to excel at pulling and trapping, but when you watch him play, you also see his ability to get to the second level and take on linebackers. He enjoyed a stellar career for the Tar Heels and there is no reason why his NFL career won't turn out the same.
The Cowboys would be fortunate to draft Cooper, and if he's available at the 18th pick, they should be sprinting to the podium. Cooper would be an ideal fit and a long-term building block for Dallas that would solidify this line for the next decade.
You're probably tired of hearing Warmack's name in virtually every mock draft along with Cooper, but the reality is both players are probably the two best fits for this team. The Cowboys would hit a major home run if Warmack's availability provides them with an opportunity to draft him.
But both Warmack and Cooper represent very hot commodities in this draft and the question becomes if either of them will be available for Dallas. But putting that scenario aside, the Cowboys would be getting a powerful, day one starter with a huge upside for years to come.
Warmack is a powerful, explosive blocker who holds up well at the point of attack, he sheds and handles multiple blocks, and he does a great job of picking up blitzers. Having Warmack aboard should bring a smile to Tony Romo's face instead of a mouthful of turf.
The Dallas Cowboys face some question marks along their defensive front. The Cowboys will also be switching to a 4-3 in 2013 which means multiple changes. The most important one being that both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will be defensive ends, thus possibly shifting the Cowboys draft target to the interior of the line.
Enter Kawann Short. Short would be the perfect fit in the second round or later in the first round in the Cowboys happen to trade down and acquire some extra draft picks. Short is a powerful defensive tackle with a long wingspan who can be a force against the run.
The Cowboys' run defense suffered major breakdowns in key situations down the stretch and injuries weren't all to blame. Short displays deceptive quickness in his game and he consistently does a good job at attacking the gaps and stuffing the run.
With question marks surrounding Josh Brent's future for obvious reasons and the concern over Jay Ratliff's durability, Short makes perfect sense for this team.
The release of Gerald Sensabaugh and the question marks surrounding Matt Johnson and Barry Church make this a no-brainer. In fact, the safety position is turning into one of the Cowboys' biggest needs and it must be addressed.
The way the draft unfolds will be the most interesting aspect to Vaccaro's future in Dallas. If either Cooper or Warmack are available, it would be hard to pass up an elite offensive lineman, but if neither of them are available then selecting the top safety makes sense as value meets pick meets need.
There is a lot to like about Vaccaro's game and his versatility is probably his best attribute. He can play either safety position and he's also played corner in many alignments for the Longhorns. He will be asked to do a lot in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 scheme and it will be a lot of pressure for Vaccaro.
It might be time for the Cowboys to finally address the safety position long term and Vaccaro could be the solution.
I had to go back and watch some game footage of the running backs in the 2013 draft, and the more I watched Bell in action the more I fell in love with his game. His 6'1", 230-pound frame automatically makes him intriguing as DeMarco Murray's accomplice.
Bell is not flashy, but he simply runs hard between the tackles, he grinds and fights for yardage and he's used to carrying the load. The latter is the most important reason why he would be a perfect fit for this franchise as Murray's issue of durability is cause for concern.
Bell could be brought along gradually with the ability at any time to step into to a lead running-back role. But besides being a hard-nosed runner, Bell also has some quickness in the flats as a receiver and he runs with great vision and balance.
His 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior at Michigan State were impressive and having him in Dallas would be even more impressive.
If the Cowboys really want to get serious about fixing this offensive line then they need to take a look at Travis Frederick. He's a 6'4", 312-pound center who can also play guard, and is a very powerful player with outstanding fundamentals. The Cowboys could elect to go many directions in the first round, but selecting an offensive lineman, or two, does remain a high priority.
Frederick would not only be an ideal fit for this team, but he would probably be around between the second and third rounds. He would be the perfect alternative if Cooper, Warmack and perhaps Barrett Jones all elude the Cowboys.
Frederick is just too good of a player to pass up at a very high need position and that makes him attractive in many ways. He's a very solid prospect.
While Kawann Short would be the ideal fit along the interior of the defensive line, Montgomery would be an ideal defensive end in the 4-3 alignment. With depth being a major concern among the front seven and just the overall freshness of the new scheme, having a player like Montgomery to contain the run would be tremendous.
He's a 6'3" 265-pound athletic freak who possesses outstanding lateral quickness and agility. He probably relied on his athletic ability a bit too much at LSU, but his upside is tremendous. Montgomery is adept at chasing down and pursuing runners and he would give the Cowboys another dimension in this defense. He sort of reminds me of Simeon Rice.
Anybody see this as a coincidence?
Greene would be an ideal 4-3 outside linebacker who can play the weak or strong side. With Anthony Spencer now a defensive end and depth issues at linebacker, Greene can use his speed to go from sideline to sideline and his playmaking ability to make an impact for the Cowboys.
Greene also excels in coverage and is a reliable open-field tackler who explodes to the ball. This is a perfect fit for Monte Kiffin's scheme. The more you watch him play, the more you realize he is constantly around the ball.
That sounds like a perfect fit to me.