Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Running back
The Cowboys have embraced a smash-mouth, run-based approach under OC Scott Linehan, but let DeMarco Murray walk in free agency after a nearly 400-carry season. Left behind are washed-up Darren McFadden, troubled Joseph Randle, 2014 practice squadder Ryan Williams and satellite back Lance Dunbar. This team needs a lead runner with three-down tools.
No. 2 Team Need: Defensive tackle
Tyrone Crawford has locked down three-technique tackle, but incumbent nose guard Nick Hayden was one of the worst starters in football last season, leading to an exploitable Dallas run defense. Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli needs a "one-technique" tackle capable of holding his ground and tying up blockers in front of LBs Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens.
No. 3 Team Need: Cornerback
Orlando Scandrick is a solid starter, but LCB Brandon Carr has been a $50 million free agent disappointment and 2012 first-round pick Morris Claiborne is an injury-ruined bust. Owner/GM Jerry Jones openly discussed releasing Carr in January. Carr is ultimately likely to return, but should face competition. Marinelli runs a Tampa 2-style defense, but also uses plenty of man coverage based on opponent. Either way, Marinelli's corners must tackle. We only list three "needs" in this space. I would consider linebacker and strong safety question marks on Dallas' roster, as well.
Norris’ Mock Draft:
Round 1 (27): CB Ronald Darby, FSU - Expect to hear Darby’s name the closer we get to the draft. Some might say his outstanding workout is being counted twice since we already knew Darby was a great athlete. That athleticism is put to use on the field when Darby eats up the separation generated by receivers. He was one of the draft’s least targeted corners in 2014.
Round 2 (60): RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana - In many other situations I would question Tevin Coleman’s production, but any back who can pick up the yards blocked for them will succeed in Dallas. Coleman can maximize those yards with outstanding long speed but goes down far too frequently on first contact. His running style is similar to that of recently signed Darren McFadden.
Round 3 (91): DT Tyeler Davison, Fresno State - A name you might not see often in this range, but Davison would be a great fit. Davison is an above average athlete for his 6’2/316 lbs frame and boasts a good motor to run the line and chase plays that are away from him. The Cowboys have selected prospects who fill an immediate need with recent success, even if it was earlier than others projected them.
Round 4 (127): LB Ben Heeney, Kansas - Heeney is a very good athlete who obtains vision and is comfortable in space. Heeney can be engulfed by blockers at the second level. He is best running free, like other second level defenders, but a comfort in coverage is there.
Round 5 (163): S Cedric Thompson, Minnesota - Many evaluators were forced to give Thompson a second look after his great workouts. I will keep saying it, many times 5-7th round grades are separated by a thin margin. The team has selected a defensive back in the 4th-plus rounds each of the last 13 years.
Round 7 (236): T Laurence Gibson, Virginia Tech - Another athletic project. Gibson is old and has a lot of difficulty handling power, but I’m guessing coaches and scouts see “upside” here.
Round 7 (243): WR Vernon Johnson, Texas A&M-Commerce - Lance Zierlein and Dane Brugler have recently brought up Johnson’s name, saying his skills were far superior to the competition at the Division II level.
Cowboys Current First-Team Offense
QB: Tony Romo
RB: Darren McFadden
FB: Jed Collins
WR: Dez Bryant
TE: Jason Witten
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: Ronald Leary
RG: Zack Martin
RT: Doug Free
Cowboys Current First-Team Defense
RE: Greg Hardy
NT: Nick Hayden
DT: Tyrone Crawford
MLB: Sean Lee
WLB: Anthony Hitchens
SLB: Kyle Wilber
CB: Brandon Carr
FS: Barry Church
SS: J.J. Wilcox