Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys' Draft Needs: How About a Safe(ty) Pick

Enough of this asinine stuff about "best player available." What if, somehow, at No. 9 in April's NFL Draft that player happens to be a tight end? A weakside linebacker? A punter? Or, God and Tim Cowlishaw forbid, a quarterback?

Under that premise, the Cowboys -- 6-10 and desperate for help on the field right now -- would use their pick on rookies who wouldn't see the field while sitting behind Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Mat McBriar and Tony Romo, all in their prime. Just doesn't make sense.

If you're 2-14 with no hope of winning a Super Bowl, yeah, draft for the future. But if you think you're only one or two players away and have the momentum of a new head coach on your side, draft for need. Every time.

And what exactly is the Cowboys' biggest need entering this off-season and this weekend's scouting combine?


Safety. No doubt.

The Cowboys told us last training camp that Alan Ball would be okay. It was Jerry Jones who trumpeted "improvement from within." He's never been more wrong. Ball doesn't have the coverage skills or playmaking knack to be a safety. A special teams standout? Sure.

And 2010's other starter -- Gerald Sensabaugh -- made some plays (five interceptions), but one of the lasting images of the 6-10 disaster will be Ball and Sensabaugh pointing to each other in the end zone as the opponent lined up for yet another extra point, as if to say "I thought you had him?!" Combined, they were the porous back end of the worst pass defense in the history of the franchise.

Ball. Sensabaugh. Ken Hamlin. Keith Davis. Patrick Watkins. Tony Dixon. Lynn Scott.

While the Cowboys have trotted out those underwhelmers in recent years, their safety position hasn't been an asset since way back in 2003 when the starters were Roy Williams and Darren Woodson.

Thankfully, Ball and Sensabaugh are both free agents. Can't imagine Sensabaugh being re-signed. Maybe Ball, but with a demotion.

Available NFL free agents include the Rams' O.J. Atogwe, the Raiders' Michael Huff, Dawan Landry of the Ravens and the oft-injured Bob Sanders of the Colts. As for the draft, the bad news is it's not exactly a strong crop. UCLA's Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter of OU are rated the best prospects, but both projected as late first-rounders.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt