The Targets of the 2002 Draft

The 2002 NFL Draft is quickly approaching. We've analyzed some of the needs that the Cowboys must address this offseason- and it all starts on defense. Forget the tight-ends, wide receivers, and quarterbacks, the Boys are going to need help next season defending the pass. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)

With the 6th pick in this year's NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys will have the chance to draft a player that can come and contribute immediately. The only question is, who will it be?

With an overachieving defense and an inconsistent offense, it might be easy to say that Jerry Jones should look out for a quality running back to replace Emmitt Smith, or a wide receiver that can actually make plays and catch the football consistently.

You could say that, but you'd probably be wrong.

The Cowboys took care of business quickly this offseason by firing offensive coordinator Jack Reilly. Heading up an offense that ranked 29th in the league in points scored will generally lead to a change somewhere, and Reilly was the one that ended up taking the fall for it.

But it wasn't all his fault. Breaking in a rookie quarterback and dealing with an ineffective star wide receiver in Joey Galloway had a lot to do with it.

You could make the case that there is some great talent out there at the quarterback, wide receiver, and tight-end positions. But truthfully, the Boys can wait on those picks until the later rounds. The strong offensive players will still be there. Its the defensive guys that need to be scooped up in the draft first.

That being said, who will the Cowboys want to pick up with the #6 pick in April? To put it simply, Dallas needs defensive help, especially in the secondary, and when you consider that the Redskins picked up head coach Steve Spurrier, you can bet that having a speedy defensive backfield will be instrumental in winning the new look NFC East.

Dwayne Goodrich tore his Achilles tendon in the fourth week of training camp, Kareem Larrimore was released in October, Izell Reese will likely be released in March and was largely ineffective this past season, and George Teague is starting to show his age. That leaves plenty of room for the Cowboys to draft add a top cover corner along with Darren Woodson and Mario Edwards.

S Roy Williams (Oklahoma) and CB Quentin Jammer (Texas) are two names that most fans would like to see wearing the silver star. Williams might be a stretch to go #6, especially being a strong safety, but Jammer might just be the perfect fit. He's quick and he's got great football instincts- he has all the intangibles.

The Boys also need some help on the defensive line. A good passing defense starts with pressure on the quarterback, and for the most part, the Cowboys did not do that effectively this season.

Dimitrius Underwood proved to be an enormous bust, Peppi Zellner came off of reconstructive knee surgery and was only somewhat effective, and the other rookies that barely made the roster were unable to contribute with any sort of consistency. Dallas needs to add one more quality defensive lineman in the mix along with Greg Ellis and hopefully a completely recovered Ebenezer Ekuban.

DE Julius Peppers (North Carolina) (6'6, 285, 4.6) will likely be long gone by the #6 pick, unless Jerry is willing to wheel and deal, but chances are he doesn't want another defensive lineman from North Carolina on his roster. Peppers is widely considered to be the top defensive players available, with strength and speed to burn, and will likely go either #1 or #2.

DT John Henderson (Tennessee) (6'7, 290, 5.0) is another name that could be high on the Boys' wish list. Henderson is a powerful defender that could be an impact player in any number of spots on the defensive line, and at 6'7, 290 lbs, he has alot of scouts drooling. He was one of the most dominating players in the SEC over the last few years.

DT Wendell Bryant (Wisconsin) (6'3, 288, 4.92) is the complete package, he is quick and aggressive and extremely talented and might be one of the true sleepers of the draft that you aren't aware of. He'll definitely go in the top 10, and he could very well be available for the Cowboys at #6.

DE Kalimba Edwards (South Carolina) (6'5, 255, 4.5) will surely be available at the #6 spot and with his speed and quickness from the defensive end position, he could be a big time star in the NFL. Most analysts have him going later in the first round, but he reminds alot of people of fellow South Carolina grad John Abraham (Jets). Abraham is only regarded as one of the top defensive players in the league right now.

Any of these 4 players would be a great addition to the Cowboys next season, but the smart money is on Jammer. Its rare to find a can't miss cornerback prospect, and he's about as close as you can find to such a thing these days. Put him in the secondary with veterans like Darren Woodson and George Teague along with the talent Mario Edwards, and you've got the makings of a defense that can line up with best of them.

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