So instead of trying to just take the best player available to us in the draft, let's look at some more needs we have that prohibit the Cowboys from being so general in their selections on draft day. This is continued from Cowboys to Draft Best Player? – Part 1 on CowboysNation.net. (Link updated to the right post on Inside the Star. May, 2015)
As mentioned before, we need some more depth at corner, especially if Alan Ball is moved to safety, but regardless, this need is going to need to be addressed either in free agency, which is running very short on options right now, or in the draft.
Currently, it's safe to assume that Terrence Newman, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick are our only corners heading into the off-season conditioning program later this month. That's down to three after Henry was traded and when/if Ball is moved to safety, and Pacman Jones being cut. Thankfully those three remaining corners all got starting quality time on the field during the 2008 season because we know now that each can be counted on to contribute.
Jenkins did have an issue with his willingness to take a hit for a tackle when he waved Derek Ward by him for the touchdown last year, but he seemed to shore up that shortcoming during the rest of the year; time will tell.
Scandrick appears to be an ace covering the slot receiver and is virtually guaranteed to resume that duty in 2009, and Newman is Newman, enough said. Some of the names still in the free agent pool are Rolle … well, there's not really anyone else I'd turn to. Bly is over the hill, so don't even ask why I'm not mentioning him as a good idea, he's not even an idea in my mind.
There are several good options to be had in the draft, too many to list in fact, because the truth is that we don't need anyone to start. We need role players, guys that can spell the starters for a break and be called upon if another injury creeps up in the secondary.
Next up on the list of needs for 2009 is linebacker. Yes, we have a few good players left in Ware, Ellis, James, and Spencer, but one of them has a bad attitude and another is injury prone. James should have been a pro bowler and Ware is about to become the next 100 million dollar man in football. Not returning are Zach Thomas and Kevin Burnett.
Zach Thomas was quoted after the Philly game saying that he'd like to find another opportunity in a scheme where he fits better, referring to the fact that he played his career in the position that Bradie James plays here in Dallas; Thomas' arrival didn't change James' position. He later softened his stance, likely at the advice of his agent given his age and the lack of need for such an old linebacker that has lost a step … but, ahem.
And Burnett was signed by the Chargers this week. In their places are two players that are pretty similar, Most notable of the two is Keith brooking, the long-time linebacker in the 4-3 down in Atlanta. He is actually a little younger than Thomas and still plays like it too, his problem is that he has always been in a 4-3 and that isn't where he belongs. We know this because he did play in a 3-4 for two years under, guess who? Wade Phillips!
Those two years playing the weak inside linebacker spot for Phillips were the best two years of his career, and he was signed to a multi-year contract to play the same spot in Dallas.
Behind James and Ware it gets pretty thin, so you'd think that the Cowboys would have to draft a linebacker at some point, right? According to Jones, only if it's the best player available.
And that's not even mentioning the need for a second nose tackle to backup Jay Ratliff and keep him fresh for the end of games. At defensive end it's getting time to draft another rookie to groom for a year or two from now when other players move on, which is bound to happen with some contracts expiring in that time. Though Olshansky shores up the need created when Chris Canty signed with the Giants earlier this month. He's the same age, same size, and has slightly better stats in some areas than Canty. He's basically Canty in disguise, and we could do worse than that for the money he was paid.
On offense we're pretty well covered now after getting Kitna, but there are some needs there as well. That's for another article.