What Was Predicted Before the Draft
Before the draft many started to speculate that Jerry Jones would select Johnny Manziel and keep him in Texas. However, when the Cowboys selected OT Zack Martin, all of those rumors were instantly erased. Before the draft I knew that the Cowboys were going to have to do something about their atrocious defense. Allowing so many rushing and passing yards per game is unacceptable with an offense that Dallas has. Here is what I had to say prior to draft time:
“Now whether or not the Cowboys will get the 17th or 16th overall pick is still up in the air (get it, because they have to do a coin toss in order to get the 16th pick), but regardless, they will most definitely need to be going with a defensive pick in the first round. Last season it wasn’t their offense that lost them the majority of their ball games (besides the Packers and Eagles games), but rather their defense. In 16 games this season, the Cowboys allowed a horrendous 415.3 total yards per game, 286.6 of them through the air and 128.5 of them coming on the ground (ranked 32nd, 30th and 27th overall this season, respectively). One of the reasons why the Cowboys defense played so poorly was due to their secondary and a lot of injuries in their front 7. DeMarcus Ware was gone for some of the Cowboys games as well as inside linebacker Sean Lee. Due to their absences on the defensive line, the Cowboys ranked 25th in the league last season with only 34.0 sacks and 42 tackles tackles for loss. Typically DeMarcus Ware sacks opposing QBs an average of 13.0 times per season, however because of injuries he was only able to sack QBs 6.0 times. It may be a case of bad luck, however I firmly believe that the Cowboys should have gone out and gotten some great defensive talent last draft at the defensive end and linebacker position. Because they decided to go with 3 offensive players in the first three rounds, the Cowboys defense ended up suffering badly, especially in the passing game.
In 2013 the Cowboys pass defense allowed 286.6 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks (ranked 30th in the league), however it was touchdowns that killed the Cowboys last season. Last year the Cowboys secondary allowed 29 passing touchdowns to opposing QBs, including 6 games where the Cowboys allowed QBs to pass for 3 or more passing touchdowns (5 of them of 4 passing touchdowns). It is no wonder why the Cowboys went 1-5 in those games. In reality the Cowboys passing and rushing offense was good, ranking 14th and 24th in passing (247.1 passing yards per game) and rushing (94.2 rushing yards per game). However, had their defense not had given up 27.0 points per game to opposing offenses last season (ranked 27th in the NFL), then perhaps the Cowboys would have made the playoffs. Their 15 interceptions and 67 passes defended in 2013 ranked 17th and 22nd overall last season. If the Cowboys can get a bonafide pass defender in the draft then the sky is the limit for these Cowboys. Where they probably need the most help is at the Strong Safety position. Last season the Cowboys drafted J.J. Wilcox in the 3rd round out of Georgia Southern. Although Wilcox was a beast the season prior at Georgia Southern, this season for the Cowboys he could have done a lot better defending the pass. In 13 games played, Wilcox only defended only 1 single pass and tackled opposing ball carriers a combined 38 times. If the Cowboys are going to go anywhere the are going to need to beef up at the Safety position or perhaps the line backer position to try and help out their struggling pass defense in 2014. Allowing opposing QBs to pass for an average of 329.9 passing yards and 2 touchdowns per game in the first 10 games is just not acceptable for a playoff contender in the NFL anymore.
On the rushing side of the ball as well as the passing side of the ball, the Cowboys definitely need some help. You’ve seen their stats against the run this season: 128.5 rushing yards allowed per game, 131 rushing yards per game in their last 13 games, 13 rushing touchdowns and 10 games of over 100 yards to opposing running backs (2 of them for over 200 yards). In short in the last 13 games of the season the Cowboys were absolutely abhorrent against the run. Due to injuries to their front 7 the Cowboys defense suffered pretty noticeably. Now while the majority of their defensive woes were on the passing side of the ball, defense is a two part game, you have to be ready for both sides of the ball.Thus in this draft, the Cowboys have got to take somebody either in the Safety position or at the strong side linebacker position. Where they can go is a dual-threat pass rusher/run stopper as well as a guy who can drop back in coverage and help out the secondary with pass coverage.”
With that said, the Cowboys primarily took my advice and went with a majority defensive additions in this year’s draft. Let’s now meet the new Cowboy’s selections.