Dallas Cowboys: 2014 NFL Draft Outlook

The Cowboys are going into next weekend’s NFL Draft with lots of needs to be addressed. Most of the holes in the roster fall on the defensive side of the ball, where the Cowboys were at their worst in franchise history. Dallas had no answer for any team with even moderate ability to move the ball through the air, including a game where Calvin Johnson broke the NFL record for most receiving yards in a game in history.

Dallas will be looking for help at a couple positions, including defensive line, outside linebacker and safety. The Cowboys recently resigned Anthony Spencer, so they won’t have to go shopping to replace him, but Jerry Jones decided to cut ties with Cowboys legend DeMarcus Ware, who was snapped up by the Broncos immediately in free agency.

Calvin Pryor would be dream pick for Dallas. (ANDREW WEBER, USA TODAY)

FIRST ROUND: 16th overall

Likely pick if available: Calvin Pryor (Safety, Louisville)

Pryor is a big-hitting risk taker, and spent the last three years making receivers wish they’d missed their routes. He’s 5’11, 207 pounds with dreadlocks down to his biceps and is one of the more confident personalities you’ll see on draft day. Some say that’s the attitude you need to be successful in the league, but it could also come with overestimating what you can do on a given play. Pryor likes to play shallower than your average NFL safety, much like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix did for Alabama. The two are the undisputed best safeties this year’s draft, but most analysts have Clinton-Dix gone before the Cowboys take their turn. There was also a rumor floating around that the Cowboys would find a way to get Johnny Manziel in the first round. Signing Tony Romo to a $100 million+ deal last year and finishing last in pass defense would make that an astoundingly-stupid pick.

Other possibilities: Ha Ha Clinton Dix (S, Alabama), Aaron Donald (DT, Pitt), Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA), Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU)

SECOND ROUND: 47th overall

Scott Crichton (CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES)

Likely pick if available: Scott Crichton (Defensive End, Oregon State)

At this point in the second round, the Cowboys will likely be checking players off a list of about 5-6 they hope to be available, and I think Crichton is around third on that list. He’s a junior leaving early, and is ranked about fifth in the positional rankings at this point. The 6’3, 273 pound DE is quick off the snap and runs a 4.78 40-yard dash. The knock on him is that he defends too tall against the run and that he might have been better served honing his stills for one more year in the Pac-12. I think the Cowboys would really like to grab Demarcus Lawrence here, but some mock drafts have him going as high as #20 to the Cardinals. Dominique Easley could also be off the board at this point.

Other possibilities: Dominique Easley (DT, Florida) , Marcus Smith (DE, Louisville), Will Sutton (DT, ASU)

That’s about as far as I’m willing to go, though don’t be too surprised if the Cowboys are OK with trading down once again in the first round. As they proved last year, they’re will to stick their necks out and take someone (Travis Frederick) they love, even if most other teams have the player ranked far lower.

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