With the possibility of no free agency, there's no point in talking about it now. So we move on to the draft. Just so you know, this isn't about who the Cowboys are going to draft just yet, but more of what the Cowboys most pressing needs are and who can fill them, so let's get to business.
The Cowboys most pressing need is at Cornerback. Between Terence Newman getting older, Mike Jenkins having an awful season and Orlando Scandrick not good enough to play on the outside, the Cowboys need someone who can shut receivers down and collect interceptions at the same time.
If a collecting bargaining agreement is reached and free agency takes place, the Cowboys will go hard at Nnamdi Asomugha, who'll be a free agent. If the Cowboys land him they won't need to draft a corner early.
If that doesn't happen look for the Cowboys to keep their eye on Prince Amukamara (Nebraska). Amukamara is considered a shut down corner and a ball hawk. According to Mel Kiper, Amukamara is the best pure corner in the draft and a technician with outstanding instincts, ball skills and anticipation.
Patrick Peterson (LSU) would also be a great pick, but he's projected to be in the top three in most mock draft's so chances are that he's not going to be there when the Cowboys pick comes at number nine.
The Cowboys also getting older on their offensive line and will need a replacement for Marc Colombo very soon as he showed his age on the field last season. Combine that with Kyle Kosier's recent injury problems and the Cowboys ineffective running game the first half of the season, and the Cowboys offensive line needs some work.
The issue here for the Cowboys is that there aren't any offensive lineman at this point who are good enough to go in the top ten. So unless the Cowboys are alright with reaching, chances are they'll wait until the later rounds.
What is more likely is the Cowboys trading down for another pick later in the draft, then their options would include Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) and Nick Solder (Colorado), the top two linemen in the draft.
Another option is Phil Costa and Sam Young. Both players spent last season learning and will get the opportunity to compete for a starting job come training camp. Young has the size and Costa has the footwork.
Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen are all to become unrestricted free agents and Igor Olshansky has disappointed since replacing Chris Canty two years ago (although Canty hasn't exactly set the world on fire with the Giants).
There are a lot of talented defensive lineman in this draft with Nick Fairley (Auburn), Marcell Dareus (Alabama) and Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson) projected to go within the top six picks in most mock drafts.
If Cameron Heyward (Ohio St.) is still on the board the Cowboys might be tempted to draft him to give Jay Ratliff some help. Heyward can play DE and DT which means that not only would he be able to spell Ratliff, but also they could switch positions to make for a great tandem on the line.
If Heyward isn't available other options would include DT Stephen Paea (Oregon State) or DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) although the option to move them around won't be as available.
The Cowboys have a problem at both safety spots. Gerald Sensabaugh is an unrestricted free agent and while he wants to stay in Dallas, he also wants a long term deal. Alan Ball is not the answer at free safety. He got better as the season went on, but if the Cowboys want to be a top defense they need someone else at that spot.
As far as the draft this is a weak safety class. Even the top safety in the draft isn't expected to go until the middle of the second round, so the Cowboys can be patient in waiting for someone in the later rounds.
What position should the Cowboys use their first pick on?
The Cowboys could also open up a competition between Danny McCray, Barry Church, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and Andrew Sendejo, who was signed to the team after the UFL season ended. However none of these guys could get on the field until Ball was injured, so they didn't stand out last year.
In the next few weeks we'll take a more extended look at the prospects at each unit. If you think there's another need the Cowboys have, feel free to comment and let me know and I'll give you some data on that position.