When the Dallas Cowboys go into the 2014 NFL draft, they need to be thinking about only one thing: which defensive end should they should select. The reason for this is obvious and the need has only increased with the departure of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher.
The Cowboys’ defensive line left something to be desired in the 2013 season partly because they were ill equipped to deal with the loss of Anthony Spencer early on in the year. That being said the Cowboys should be examine the DE draft class to see who they believe will be a star player that meets their needs.
I have several players in mind, the first of which is Jadeveon Clowney. While it may be unlikely that the Cowboys will have the opportunity to draft him, they should consider trading up because someone of Clowney’s size, speed and athletic ability is a generational-type talent.
Now there are other options not named Clowney. The first name that I find intriguing is Dee Ford from Auburn. Ford doesn’t have the typical size of an NFL DE, but he makes up for that with his speed which aids his ability to gain the corner against offensive tackles. Perhaps Ford’s strongest aspect is that he has long arms which help him to get a better jump on the snap of the ball.
Both Clowney and Ford are expected to be drafted in the first round, but there is still talent to be found later in the draft. For instance Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat is currently projected as a 3rd round pick. If the Cowboys were to go a different route for their first round selection (DT, OT, WR) then conceivably they could still get Jeffcoat later. Jeffcoat has the ability to work off of contact well and has the speed to sidestep blocks and get to the quarterback quickly.
It is my belief that if they get to the 4th round, they should have already selected a DE, but if they haven’t then there will still be potential gems. Ed Stinson from Alabama is someone who comes to mind. He is currently projected to be drafted in the 5th round and has many qualities that lead me to believe that he can be successful at the next level. Perhaps one of his most ideal traits is his size and body structure. He would be considered the typical body type for an NFL DE. Stinson also has an extremely effective bull rush which would allow him to push the OL back and stop the run and pass alike.
These are just a few of the options the Cowboys have available to them in this year’s draft. The Cowboys have made great strides this offseason into being what I believe is a more culturally sound organization, but they must be certain to continue with the positive progress as to ensure that they will not fall back into their old ways.