- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the scouting combine heating up, we'll answer a few of your questions in our weekend mailbag.
Q: Even though I hated to see Rob Ryan go I like the thought of playing 4-3 and lining up and playing football. What do you think? Aceboogie (Jacksonville, Fla.)
A: The only issue I have with the 4-3 defense is whether or not the Cowboys have the personnel to implement it. If the Cowboys lose Anthony Spencer in free agency, you have to find a defensive end. Is it Jason Hatcher? Sean Lissemore? Tyrone Crawford? Someone else? The Cowboys don't have a lot of money to play with in free agency after they get under the $121 million salary cap. The other outside linebacker is another issue. Is it Kyle Wilber? Alex Albright? Someone else? Do you try and bring Victor Butler back? Finding players at those two spots are issues, not major ones, but important enough to worry about. Other than those two positions the Cowboys have the talent to move to a 4-3.
Q: As a huge Cowboys fan, it bothers me that we have moved from a focus on the offensive and defensive line to specialty players. If you look at great teams, even of the Cowboys, it starts with the line. Do you think this year will be a focus for the 'Boys during the draft? Herb Bennett (Valdosta, Ga.)
A: I don't believe the Cowboys have forgotten about the offensive and defensive lines. If you remember last season they signed two guards in free agency, totaling $30 million. It's hard for most NFL teams to find offensive line help. That's just the way it is. But saying that, the Cowboys also need some help in the skill position areas: running backs and safeties are two positions worth improving. The best thing for the Cowboys to do at this stage of their development as a franchise is to draft the best player available. If at No. 18, the best player is a running back, get him and challenge DeMarco Murray. If the best player at No. 18 is a defensive end, select him and add more depth to the defensive line. It's not about moving away from the defensive or offensive lines, it's about making your team better.
We have two good questions about the running game this week.
Billy Keele from San Diego asks: "What are the chances of Peyton Hillis or Reggie Bush coming to Dallas if Felix Jones is not signed?" Michael from Maine wants to know: "Can and will Dallas go after Michael Turner if he's a free agent? Could he be a big help if Dallas get him.
A: I doubt the Cowboys will go after Hillis or Turner. But Bush is an interesting selection. He can become that third-down back that Felix Jones could never become. Bush can blitz protect on third down and he can catch passes out of the backfield and get up field. Bush is also solid at running off tackle and he's a solid change of pace to Murray. Of course money is an issue when it comes to signing anyone in free agency and it will be difficult for the Cowboys to give big money to Bush. If Bush wants to take less money to become a backup to Murray and take over in case of injury, it might be worth signing him.