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The big D in Dallas didn’t come close to living up to expectations, and now the Cowboys will have a third coordinator in charge of the defense in as many years. In order to help revive the worst defense in team history, the team will have to put together a strong draft class to fill a number of voids.
The makeover begins with the defensive line, where both tackle and end are needs. There’s a chance DeMarcus Ware is no longer a member of the Dallas Cowboys next season, as the soon-to-be 32-year-old is coming off an injury-riddled year, his worst season a pro, and is due $12.25 million in 2014-15 which makes him a candidate for release if he’s not willing to accept a pay cut. On the other end, Anthony Spacer is also coming off an injury but is an impending free agent.
Whether the team can re-up with Spencer or restructure Ware’s deal remains to be seen. But the 2014 draft class features a number of talented edge rushers, and Stephon Tuitt might make the most sense for Dallas. The former All-American led Notre Dame in sacks and tackles for loss, and his big body could add some versatility to the Cowboys up front.
The Cowboys also have to address the tackle spot, an integral part of Rod Marinelli’s defense. The team has to try and re-sign Jason Hatcher because it’s without too many other options. It should also address the position early in the draft. Dominique Easley could be a late-round find for the Cowboys, as the former Gators tackle is coming off an injury but was viewed as a first-round prospect.
Also in need of an improvement in the league’s 30th-ranked secondary, which did not play up to expectations. Morris Claiborne has struggled since being drafted in the first round a few years back, while neither of team’s safeties should be starters on an NFL team. Perhaps the Cowboys could go after a corner in free agency, but it could certainly upgrade at safety through the draft.
Jimmie Ward is a big player from a small school who could instantly improve the back end of Dallas’ defense. He’s eclipsed the 100-tackle mark each of the past two seasons and recorded seven picks last year with Northern Illinois. He can not only provide deep coverage but help defend the slot, which will be important in the NFC East against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
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