Scouts Inc.: Dallas has to be heavy on D

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- On Thursday Tim MacMahon and Calvin Watkins offered up their draft solutions for the Dallas Cowboys with their Final Exam takes.

Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. has his NFC East draft breakdownInsider up, and to no surprise he agreed with Tim and Calvin, believing the Cowboys have to go heavy on defense in May.

He listed defensive end, defensive tackle and safety as the priorities.

The Cowboys must address the defensive line somehow someway. It is quite possible that none of the four players they expected to make up the line in 2013 will be back in 2014. Jay Ratliff was cut last October. Jason Hatcher is coming off a career year and is a free agent. Anthony Spencer played in one game before season-ending knee surgery and is a free agent. DeMarcus Ware carries a $16.003 million salary-cap figure in 2014 and is coming off a career-low six sacks.

Barry Church had a solid season at safety but the Cowboys aren’t sure if J.J. Wilcox, a third-round pick last year, is the answer. They’re not sure Matt Johnson, their fourth-round pick in 2012, can ever stay healthy. Undrafted Jeff Heath had to start too many games in 2013.

If you’re looking for names, here’s what Muench came up with as possibilities.

Defensive end: Oregon State’s Scott Crichton, Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat, Southern Cal’s Devon Kennard.
Defensive tackle: Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman, LSU’s Anthony Johnson.
Safety: Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, LSU’s Craig Loston, Stanford’s Ed Reynolds.

Jeffcoat will be an interesting prospect. His father, Jim Jeffcoat, played 12 years for the Cowboys, spanning the Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson eras. Jackson Jeffcoat overcame a pair of pectoral muscle tears and won the Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s top defensive end, after finishing with 12 sacks, 78 tackles and 21 tackles for a loss.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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