Armed with two first-round picks -- the 22nd and 28th -- they have options. They could try to move up. They could stand pat, or they could use one of the picks to move back in the draft and gain extra picks.
That the Cowboys were able to sign left tackle Flozell Adams to a long-term contract -- the biggest free-agent move made so far by the cap-strapped Cowboys -- has crystallized their draft focus.
The Cowboys have three basic needs in the draft -- cornerback, running back and receiver. Of course, they can always use help along the offensive and defensive lines and will likely address those positions at some point in the draft.
But the need areas are running back, cornerback and receiver. Look for them to concentrate on those three positions at the top of the draft.
And with two first-round picks, the Cowboys can kill two birds early. It's one reason it makes no sense for the Cowboys to package the picks and move into the top five -- no matter how much they covet Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.
The Cowboys already have a Pro Bowl running back in Marion Barber. And considering this draft is loaded with quality running backs, they can easily draft a runner in the first round to complement Barber's bruising style. That's why McFadden's running partner at Arkansas, Felix Jones, is a logical choice with the 22nd pick. He is a quick and shifty runner that would keep defenses off balance. He also is a game-breaking kick returner. He is a legitimate first option. They can use the other pick on a cornerback or receiver.
A CLOSER LOOK: TEAM NEEDS
1. Wide receiver: Terrell Owens will be 35 next year and Terry Glenn is the same age and missed 15 games last year with a knee injury. The Cowboys expressed interest in free-agent receiver Javon Walker but he signed with the Raiders. The Cowboys could use a young playmaker at receiver for next year and beyond.
2. Cornerback: The Cowboys need a third corner in order to compete for a Super Bowl championship. Getting by with someone like Jacques Reeves (he signed with Houston) playing behind starters Terence Newman and Anthony Henry just won't cut it anymore. A first-round corner could also replace Henry in the starting lineup.
3. Running back: The Cowboys have no running backs under contract, although they have offered restricted free agent Marion Barber the highest tender of $2.56 million. Even with Barber, the Cowboys need to address the running back position in the draft or free agency because Julius Jones will not be back. The Cowboys need a speed back to complement the bruising style of Barber. Warrick Dunn is an option in free agency. But the draft is loaded with quality backs and the Cowboys could nab one in the first or second round.
DRAFT SCOUT SKINNY
Don't listen to the consistent rumors about the Cowboys trading up in the draft to get running back Darren McFadden. Yes, the Cowboys are enamored with McFadden's game-breaking ability. But as of now the price to move up is just too high for the Cowboys. It would take both first-round picks and the second-round pick to get into the top five and that might not be enough. And there's the matter of paying a top-five salary. The Cowboys have little interest in doing that.
Dallas has two first-round picks -- 22 and 28. Look for them to stand pat and take a combination including a running back, receiver or cornerback. Arkansas running back Felix Jones, Texas receiver Limas Sweed and South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins are definite possibilities should they be available.
If McFadden starts to drop in the first round, the Cowboys could be enticed into making a move. Of course, knowing owner Jerry Jones' track record and the depth in the draft they could use one of the first-round picks to move back and add picks.
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