OT, DBs headline new wish list

The Cowboys' decision to cut tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin Friday was not entirely unexpected — owner Jerry Jones had acknowledged last month that both moves were possible — but they still sent a ripple effect through the franchise, and may have brought into focus the team's plans for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Since the end of the 2009 season, the general concensus is that the Cowboys would spend their top picks on some collaboration of players at the following positions: offensive tackle, defensive end, safety, cornerback and/or wide receiver, especially if Miles Austin leaves town via free agency.

But with Adams and Hamlin leaving town, their positions become top priorities. With all due respect to Doug Free, a starting left tackle is an absolute must between now and the start of the season, and if Gerald Sensabaugh bolts, the Cowboys will need two starting-caliber safeties. Those other positions are all needs, at least in terms of depth, but tackle and safety suddenly become absolute must-haves.

With that in mind, TheRanchReport.com presents the top five players Dallas should draft to fit their newest needs (the list doesn't include players — like Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Iowa tackle Brian Bulaga or Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams — who would be ideal but should be long gone by the time Dallas selects). Okung or another player of his caliber could be had, but the Cowboys would have to pay a premium. So for the sake of this list, the assumption will be that Dallas stays at the No. 27 selection.

Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis
Once thought to be a challenger to Okung as the top tackle in a draft that is stocked at the position, Davis has seen his stock slip a little, behind Williams and Bulaga. Davis, who measured 6-5 and 323 pounds at the NFL Combine, is somewhat similar to Adams, in the sense that he is very athletic for a player of his size, with good quickness and explosiveness (his vertical jump of 33 inches was fourth-best among offensive linemen at the Combine). He has quick and nimble and has long arms, which make him an able pass protector. He needs to get stronger, but he has the tools to be a starter for a decade.

USC safety Taylor Mays
The 6-3, 230-pound Mays is such an athletic marvel that some team might well become enamored with him and take him before Dallas gets a chance to nab him. Arguably the best overall athlete in the draft, Mays draws criticism from those who suggest he is more interest in delivering a highlight-reel hit than he is in making the safe, sure tackle, but the promise he offers — on defense and special teams — is extremely enticing to a lot of teams.

Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell
"Bruce Almighty" put up jaw-dropping numbers at the Combine — the 6-6, 314-pounder was among the top offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle — and has a physique that could fit on the cover of a fitness magazine as easily as on an NFL offensive line. His lean build, long arms and mobility have drawn comparisons to Adams, and he might well become just as good a professional player, but his technique will require some refinement.

LSU safety Chad Jones
It might be a reach to take him at the end of the first round, but Jones (6-2, 221) is a rare athlete who has college national championships in both football and baseball at LSU. Should he end up in Dallas, he likely would play strong safety (perhaps sliding Sensabaugh over to free safety) where he could crash the box stuff the run, like Darren Woodson did so effectively for so many years. He has long arms and good hands, and has a knack for making plays on the ball when he stays in coverage.

USC offensive tackle Charles Brown
Another athletic, lean tackle in the Campbell mode, Brown is a converted tight end who adapted quickly to the tackle position and used his long arms and athleticism to protect the Trojan quarterbacks, rather than bulk and power. As he gets stronger, and develops more of a mean streak that allows him to punish pass rushers, many scouts project a very high ceiling for him.

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