Offensive Needs Must be Addressed

The last two years, the Dallas Cowboys have done a remarkable job in adding to a defense that now appears to be on the verge of greatness via the NFL Draft. This April however, that trend of drafting defensive players in the first round needs to come to an end.

Bill Parcells fired a shot that was heard loud and clear the moment the Cowboys fell to the Carolina Panthers, 29-10 in the first round of the playoffs.

"I can't think of a position on the team where, if an opportunity came along, we wouldn't give it good consideration," said Parcells. "We could use help at almost every offensive position and in almost every defensive position."

While it's true that the Cowboys could use some help of the defensive side of the ball in 2004, there's little doubt that the offense has now become a priority.

A priority that will be addressed somewhere in the first two rounds of this April's NFL Draft.

Two years ago, we told you that the Cowboys would likely take Oklahoma safety Roy Williams with their first selection in the 2002 draft.

Last year, we told you that Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman would be selected as the Cowboys first pick in the 2003 draft.

This year, it's not quite that cut and dry. Sure, there are needs on this team that are obvious. Running back, the offensive line, and even another shutdown cornerback headline my current wishlist.

And even though Bill Parcells is a defensive minded coach, it's clearly time for the Cowboys to take a different approach to the 2004 NFL Draft.

In short, it's time to get a little offensive.

Not only did Troy Hambrick fail to eclispe the 1,000 yard mark last year, he also had trouble wining over the fans and the coaching staff.
Last season, the Cowboys improved under the direction of offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, ranking 15th in total offense (322 yards/game), 17th in passing offense (197 yards/game), and 12 in rushing (124.9 yards/game).

But as most of us already know, there's only so much coaching can do for you in this league. After all, the Cowboys were ranked ahead of just two teams in the NFL in total offense in 2002, and the organization elected to keep a majority of the players from that team on the roster in 2003.

It's time to upgrade.

The Cowboys own one first round pick in this year's draft, and even though it doesn't lie within the top 10, there's still plenty of room to do some damage.

"I think there will be a good player there with our first pick," said Parcells. "But I have no idea what position he will be playing. I would rather get that good player there than draft an average player because he coincides with what we need."

Early rumors have Jerry Jones and company keeping their eyes on a quality running back, including a possible draft day trade for Cincinnati's Corey Dillon.

Greg Jones and Steven Jackson are also high on the organization's wishlist, and Jones may even be available in the second round should things really go right.

But running back is only part of the problem. The Cowboys could also use some help in the development of Quincy Carter and some additional beef on the offensive line.

Outside of left guard Larry Allen, almost every position on the line also needs an upgrade, and it looks as though at least one of the higher picks the Cowboys own this year will be used on an offensive lineman.

But the wildcard here is undoubtedly Parcells.

Parcells is the kind of a coach that's always looking for the next "great" player, and if he finds one this offseason that's available with the 22nd selection in the draft, he'll go that route. And he'll do it even if it means taking another defensive player like a corner or a defensive lineman.

"Everyone speculates about what our needs are, but sometimes the needs don't coincide with the availability," said Parcells. "You have to live with something longer than you would like because you don't have options that fit into allowing you to be flexible."

Let's just hope those "options" this year include some help on the "other" side of the ball, because that's where the Cowboys will have to improve if they want to advance further than the first round of the playoffs.

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