There really is no mystery surrounding the Cowboys' secondary from a year ago. Generally speaking, most people agree that their performance was adequate, but not spectacular. Mario Edwards may have potential, and Duane Hawthorne was respectable- but neither athlete could consistently provide sound one-on-one coverage when the game was on the line. This deficiency at cornerback will likely be addressed in the first round of this year's draft.
At safety, Darren Woodson is a solid performer, but Izell Reese signed with Denver, George Teague was released, and Tony Dixon is nothing more but a work in progress at this juncture. It goes without saying that Jerry Jones is going to need to go after a quality safety in this year's draft.
And the interesting aspect of drafting a solid safety, is that you don't necessarily have to pick one up in the first or second round. This year, you could probably group together 8 or 9 athletes between the third and sixth rounds and not notice a difference between any of them on the football field. Their talent level is just that close.
Before we dive back into our selections, let's review our list of priorities for the Cowboys one more time:
1) Find a true shutdown cornerback.
2) Pick up a wide receiver that creates matchup problems.
3) Draft a tight end that has all the physical tools to play in the NFL.
4) Improve their overall depth on the defensive line.
5) Try and find a diamond in the rough on the offensive line and also in the secondary.
With rounds 1 and 2 being devoted to a cornerback and a wide receiver, and rounds 3 and 4 going towards a tight end and a defensive tackle; look for Dallas to add a true safety, as well as a little depth along the offensive line in the 5th and 6th rounds.
S Jermaine Phillips (6'1, 213, 4.6) Georgia
This selection almost makes too much sense for the Cowboys. Phillips has excellent instincts at safety, as he was converted over from wide receiver after his sophomore season at Georgia.
He also has excellent size and great recovery speed in the defensive backfield. He has no problems providing ample run support, and he willingly takes on bigger running backs with ease.
What Phillips lacks, in terms of being polished, and possessing strong fundamentals, he can gain rather quickly in training camp. The kid is a raw talent, having played only two full seasons in the secondary, but he has all the physical attributes, as well as the mentality to become a significant factor in the NFL. He brings that aggressive mentality to the secondary, and futhermore- he's a playmaker. He makes big plays and he looks spectacular in doing so.
Most teams would like to see an athlete with better technique and more experience in secondary, which is why he'll likely still be available in the 5th round. But don't be fooled, the Cowboys could find a real player with this kid. He has all the tools you'd like to see at free safety in the NFL.
OT Reggie Coleman (6'5, 315, 5.3) Tennessee
Simply put, the Cowboys must add at least one offensive lineman in this year's draft, and if the Cowboys avoid Bryant McKinnie at #6, they'll likely wait until this round to take a chance on someone.
Reggie Coleman, a bruising lineman from Tennessee could be a likely target. Coleman is perhaps the strongest tackle in the draft, squatting over 650 pounds recently. He also has consistently shown the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage and force his will upon the opponent.
Coleman has good size for a tackle at 6'5 and 315 lbs, however the one area you'd like to see him improve on is his general ability to handle the quicker defensive linemen. Some scouts feel as though he doesn't use his strength enough when it counts the most, adn that he needs to have a "nasty" side instilled in him.
The Cowboys need to build some depth along the offensive line, and Coleman, with his brute strength and overall size, fits the bill to play in the rugged NFC East. More importantly, he is a motivated athlete that has continually focused on getting better while playing in Knoxville.
If he carries that attitude to the next level, he'll have the opportunity to become a quality starter in the NFL, and in the 5th and 6th rounds, finding a starter is a bonus.
We will have more on the compensatory picks that were awarded to Dallas earlier today in tomorrow's Mock Draft Update.
The Update's Mock Draft (Rounds 5 & 6)
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