We are only 34 days away from the first opportunity for the Cowboys to make significant moves to improve this roster. With their current financial situation, they have some potential long term deals that may allow them to sign some veteran players to fill holes. However here we are going to focus on the NFL Draft. The Cowboys will have six draft picks due to trading their seventh round pick for center Ryan Cook from the Miami Dolphins last season.
1. DJ Fluker, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Doug Free was a liability in pass protection and with his contract it may be time to part ways. Fluker is a young powerful tackle who can keep defenders off Romo. He played against the top competition in the SEC which that experience will serve him well against the top rushers in the game.
2. Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle, Purdue
Josh Brent is having legal issues and he will not be with the Cowboys in 2013. Behind Brent they have Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford and Jay Hatcher. Short will have an opportunity to step in next to Jay Ratliff. Short is a big bodied tackle that can eat up blockers and disrupt pass protection.
3. Barrett Jones, Center, Alabama
The Cowboys will have a chance to get two of the three Crimson Tide offensive linemen in this draft. Jones has the flexibility and versatility to play both guard and center. He could easily compete for either spot with the struggles of Bernadeau and Costa/Cook. I fully expect Jones to fall to the third round due to his injury.
4. Stefan Taylor, Running Back, Stanford
Taylor is a back that can do it all. He rushes well between the tackles, can block and he catches the ball out of the backfield. Taylor could be the back to give Murray a breather unlike Felix Jones. He plays the same style as Murray but he doesn’t have the injury issues. Solid mid round selection that could eventually replace Murray as the feature back, should he not resign after his rookie deal expires.
5. AJ Klein, Linebacker, Iowa State
Klein played the inside linebacker position at Iowa State, however I think he has the size and quickness to play outside. Either way he is a solid selection in the fifth round. It isn’t a foregone conclusion either Carter or Lee are the middle linebacker. Any combination of the three in this formation makes this defense better.
6. Brian Winters, Offensive Guard, Kent State
For the Cowboys final selection I have chosen to end the draft where it all started, with another selection on the offensive line. Winters started his college career as a right tackle before shifting to right guard then out to left tackle. He has plenty of versatility to adjust to any situation. With Winters adding some weight to his frame will be a solid guard. He is undersized to play tackle and lacks the athletic ability to play blindside. Playing in a non-automatic qualifying conference I expect him to fall to the sixth round.
I don’t expect the Cowboys to address safety in the draft with other pressing needs. I would however expect them to make a play for a free agent safety on a short contract.