- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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ESPN's pre-draft "On the Clock" series takes a look at the Dallas Cowboys. These are roundtable discussions with Mel Kiper, Jr., Trent Dilfer and Chris Mortensen that preview the draft for each team and discuss other issues as well. Mel identifies interior offensive line as the Cowboys' top draft priority, then lists playmaking safety, defensive tackle and running back as others. The good thing for the Cowboys, as the group points out, is that this year's draft is deep in all of those areas, and with a good draft the Cowboys should be able to improve their current roster in a way that impacts the 2013 season.
The discussion then turns to Dallas' new defensive coaches -- coordinator Monte Kiffin and line coach Rod Marinelli. Dilfer oozes respect for both men, having known them from their days in Tampa Bay, and puts forth a belief that Marinelli and Kiffin will make playmakers out of the players already on the Cowboys' defense. He thinks Rob Ryan's defense was "reaction-based" and that the new defensive coaches on the staff are more about forcing the action.
Mort throws a bit of cold water on that theory, pointing out the problems Kiffin had stopping Chip Kelly's Oregon offense while Kiffin was USC's defensive coordinator. But we will see, of course. The 4-3 makes sense for Dallas given its current defensive personnel, and if they can stay healthy this time and if one of the safeties they have on the roster (or someone they find in the draft) can become that playmaker, the defense should be better than people are giving it credit for.