This is really a make-or-break draft for the Dallas Cowboys. The epitome of mediocrity in recent years, the Cowboys have a number of holes to fill, and six picks to do it.
Offensively, the 'Boys need to find linemen who will fit their transition to more zone-blocking concepts; center, guard and tackle are all needs. They also need to find a backup to running back DeMarco Murray.
On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas is searching for pieces that fit into Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. Defensive tackle and safety are probably the biggest needs, although linebacker and defensive end are also both in play, even in the early rounds.
A lot of people, perhaps even those within the Cowboys organization, believe the team needs to simply select the highest-rated player on their board at each spot.
I think that's a mistake.
Although it's popular to advocate such a "best player available" strategy, the truth is that it's shortsighted. A true "best player available" strategy fails to account for team needs, future picks and position scarcity.
The latter concept is a big one. Certain positions in this draft are extremely deep; there are safeties throughout the first three rounds, for example, who can probably start from the moment they suit up in the NFL. That decreases the merit of taking a player like Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, even if he's the highest-rated player. Why draft Vaccaro when you can have a very comparable player in the second or third?
Meanwhile, this draft is extremely thin in terms of interior offensive linemen. If the Cowboys pass on an elite guard in the first round, they won't be able to find one later who's in the same stratosphere.