It’s hard to believe, but the Dallas Cowboys – once an undisputed NFL heavyweight – have won just one playoff game since 1996. One. You didn’t read it wrong.
What does that mean?
The pressure is perpetually on every member of the organization to start winning soon or expect a pink slip.
Except one guy, I suppose.
General Manager Jerry Jones, who also happens to own the team.
In his responsibilities as decision-maker, Jones oversees the draft process for the Cowboys and has never been afraid to share or an opinion or express a belief of his relating to it.
But 2012, both now and in the fall, must be about results for the Cowboys, not talk off the field and hollow promises about improvement.
So where should the Cowboys turn later this month when they pick 14th overall in the draft?
Glad you asked.
Who they will draft: Mark Barron, safety, Alabama. Word has been going around that the Cowboys are interested in Barron, the best safety prospect since Eric Berry in 2010 (although the 2011 class was admittedly poor), and a sure-fire playmaker at the NFL level. Barron gets it done both against the pass and the run, and the Cowboys need an injection of youth and talent in the rear guard of their defense. The fact that he had double hernia surgery after the National Championship game and missed the Combine is definitely a consideration for Dallas, but it appears he’s on track for a full return to health before training camp.
Who they should draft: Barron. At 6’1”, a shade under 215 pounds and with enough speed to cover ground, Barron has all the makings of a standout safety at the next level. He’s smart – he excelled in a Nick Saban-coached defense – and instinctive. He may not be the next Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu, but he’d be a major upgrade for a Dallas team that needs it in the secondary.
Who they could draft: David DeCastro, offensive guard, Stanford. The first factor to consider here is whether or not DeCastro will even be available come pick 14. He’d be a nice fit for Arizona at 13, but shuffling near the top of the draft may shake up the available players, so count DeCastro as a possibility at 14. He’d help a Dallas offensive line that is looking for an upgrade on the interior, as he’s the rare example of a guard prospect worth the top half of the first round investment.
Stephen Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina. Yes, the Cowboys made a Texas-sized investment in cornerback Brandon Carr in free agency, but that doesn’t mean they’ve solved all of their secondary woes. That being said, despite the fact that he’s a fast-riser in the draft, the Cowboys shouldn’t reach for Gilmore at pick 14. Depending on who you talk to, Gilmore makes sense closer to the range of 18-24. There’s really only one secondary player who people expect to be available at 14 for Dallas who is also worth the selection. That’s Barron.