- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Dallas Cowboys have major decisions to handle regarding their franchise this offseason. Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins, along with some guests, answer some of biggest issues for the Cowboys this week.
The Cowboys biggest draft need is?
Calvin Watkins: Defensive line. The Cowboys finished with 34 sacks in 2013, tied for 25th in the NFL. Getting pressure on the quarterback wasn't something opposing offenses needed to worry about in 2013. Injuries and ineffective play were the main reasons for this but in this 4-3 scheme now being run by Rod Marinelli, blitzing the quarterback isn't the way to get pressure. Marinelli expects his linemen to push the pocket and besides defensive end DeMarcus Ware, he doesn't have enough players who can do that. Upgrading the talent along the defensive line is a must for this franchise moving forward. There are other issues such as finding a quality safety and maybe increasing the competition at corner and linebacker. Ware might not return in 2014 if the team thinks he's on the decline, can't be the only man worthy of getting to the quarterback. We don't expect Jason Hatcher to return in 2014 given he wants a big money deal in free agency and that's something the Cowboys won't do. So the draft will have to fix these problems.
Todd Archer: Defense, defense, defense. I say that, but I would also tell the Cowboys to not force it. They need to follow their board as closely as possible, but if there are ties I would lean defensively. They need ends and tackles on the line. Notice those were plural. They ran through 20 guys last year and they saw injuries take away Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and Tyrone Crawford for all or almost all of the season. They could use some help at safety too. And I would not eliminate linebacker. Cornerback is fairly set but if they are staring at a high-ranked corner, I wouldn’t turn it down. But forcing defensive players up the board is a mistake. If at No. 16 or 17 (wherever they pick in the first round) they don’t have a defensive lineman available, I wouldn’t hesitate to take an offensive lineman. Too often we in the media and fans just look at the draft as a solution for the upcoming season. You have to factor in 2015 and beyond as well.