Note: Grade is based upon drafting for need, value, talent and depth.
Pre-Draft Needs: CB, DE, SS, FS, WR, G, OLB, TE
Round 1-Morris Claiborne/CB
Round 3-Tyrone Crawford/DE
Round 4-Kyle Wilber/OLB
Round 4-Matt Johnson/SS
Round 5-Danny Coale/WR
Round 6-James Hanna/TE
Round 7-Caleb McSurdy/ILB
FS (developmental), WR (veteran depth), G (veteran depth), OLB (veteran depth)
If you took a poll of anyone who follows the team closely, I’d be willing to bet that they would tell you the part of the defense which had to improve for the 2012 season was in the secondary—and that’s just where the team addressed its biggest area of need in the first round.
Morris Claiborne was recognized as the most complete cornerback for this year’s NFL Draft, so it’s not a surprise that the Cowboys wound up trading up for him. With Claiborne in the fold, this gives the team an excellent CB tandem with Brandon Carr, who signed in free agency. With those two on the field, CB Orlando Scandrick can remain in his nickel role. CB Mike Jenkins, if the team is unable to trade him before the season starts, can handle an insurance role behind Carr and Claiborne.
Tyrone Crawford, who was selected in the third round, has the capability to put on weight so he can hold up at the next level at DE. He was recognized prior to the draft as one of the better “5-technique” (DE in a 3-4) lineman. He’ll eventually replace veteran DE Kenyon Coleman in the lineup.
The Cowboys, at the very least, needed to add competition at strong safety, and they did that with Matt Johnson in the fourth round. The small school defensive back is good going forward in the box and is very athletic, but is not known for his coverage skills among some personnel evaluators despite his high number of interceptions in college. The Cowboys still need to find a good coverage safety.
The first of their fourth-round picks, OLB Kyle Wilber, is expected to line up behind starting OLB Anthony Spencer, who is on a franchise tender. Wilber is known in scouting circles as a high-motor player.
Underrated fifth-round pick Danny Coale should challenge right away for the team’s slot receiver role, while also competing for time on the outside. However, the Cowboys still need to find a veteran to provide depth behind starters Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
The Cowboys did a nice job overall addressing depth and needs at various positions, but competition is still needed at a few other positions on both sides of the ball.