Saturday, April 28, 2012
Defense dominates Cowboys draft picks
By Calvin Watkins
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys selected five defensive players in the 2012 NFL draft, the most since 2009 when they grabbed seven players on defense with their 12 picks.
The Cowboys used their first four selections on defensive players, moving eight spots from No. 14 to No. 6 in the first round to pick the top cornerback in the draft, LSU's Morris Clairborne.
In the third round, the Cowboys grabbed Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who is considered a project.
The Cowboys used the first of two fourth-round selections on linebacker Kyle Wilber at 113, a player who can play strong side linebacker. The Cowboys then took safety Matt Johnson with the last pick in the round, a compensatory selection. Johnson is a strong safety who finished with 17 interceptions in his career at Eastern Washington.
The run on defense ended in Round 5 when Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale was selected.
It's the first time the Cowboys have selected four consecutive defensive players since 1982, when the franchise's first five selections were defensive players.
Out of 12 picks that season, five made the team and eight were defensive players overall. The first-round pick that season was cornerback Rod Hill from Kentucky State.
Last year, the Cowboys drafted six offensive players out of eight selections. But after a 2011 season in which the Cowboys finished 14th in total defense and 23rd against the pass, several changes were needed.
Dallas cut veteran cornerback Terence Newman and elected not to re-sign safety Abram Elam and two inside linebackers, Bradie James and Keith Brooking.
In free agency, the Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year $50.1 million deal and also gave Brodney Pool, a safety, a one-year contract.
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer was kept off the free-agent market when the team placed the franchise tag on him worth $8.8 million.