One of the disappointing things about the NFL Draft — for coaches, scouts … even fans — is no team gets everyone it wants.
But after the first round of the 2011 draft, Cowboy fans have to feel pretty optimistic. Not only did Dallas finally break its 30-year trend of not drafting an offensive lineman in the first round when the Cowboys selected the top tackle prospect in the draft, in USC's Tyron Smith, but there also are a number of players left who could be significant additions to the Cowboys' roster.
Many of the players mentioned at the end of the first day of the draft don't count for the Cowboys for one reason: they're quarterbacks. That's not to suggest Ryan Mallet of Arkansas, Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, Ricky Stanzi of Iowa and Andy Dalton can't play — they can. But Dallas still has three years and nearly $30 million left on its contract with starting quarterback Tony Romo, got better-than-expected performances last year out of veteran backup Jon Kitna and appears convinced Stephen McGee is a suitable third-string quarterback. Would a new quarterback help? Maybe, but it almost surely won't happen.
The Cowboys can go in a number of directions when the draft resumes Saturday and should be able to find a number of productive players, starting with their pick early in the second round.
• Considering every starter on the offensive line except tackle Doug Free is north of 30 years old, the team could go for more of an overhaul by adding another young blocker. Two of the best remaining are Florida State guard Rodney Hudson, who makes up for his relative lack of size (6-foot-2, 299 pounds) with exceptional intelligence and mobility; and Miami tackle Orlando Franklin (6-6, 315), who also could play guard in the NFL.
• Two months ago, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was projected by some to be the top pick in the entire draft. But concerns about a knee injury allowed him to fall all the way out of the first round. Some teams have given him a clean bill of health; others haven't. If Dallas is one of the teams that is comfortable with Bowers' health, the NCAA's 2010 leader in sacks and the Atlantic Coast Conference's Defensive Player of the Year would be a steal.
Other top defensive linemen who remain include North Carolina hybrid Marvin Austin, who sat out the 2010 season for accepting illegal benefits from an agent, Miami defensive end Allen Bailey, Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who tied the league record by bench pressing the NFL-standard 225 pounds 49 times at the combine in Indianapolis, and versatile Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed.
It is no secret that the Cowboys want to bolster the secondary, especially at the safety spots, and there are three who earned a fair measure of pre-draft scrutiny from the Cowboys who are waiting to be picked: UCLA's Rahim Moore, Aaron Wiliams of Texas and Quinton Carter of Oklahaoma.
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