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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Defensive line, safety among greatest needs

By Calvin Watkins

The good people at ESPN Stats and Information broke down several key areas the Cowboys need to fix this offseason, whether it's through the draft or during the free-agency period that begins today.

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The Cowboys lost two players to injury along the defensive line last season -- Jay Ratliff and Kenyon Coleman.

According to Stats and Information, the Cowboys' defensive line was one of the NFL's most unproductive units in 2012. It finished 30th in sacks (7.5) and tied for last in batted passes (two) and tackles for loss (five).

The Cowboys are moving to a 4-3 defensive alignment with the hopes of boosting the pass rush under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Ratliff is moving from nose tackle to defensive tackle and Jason Hatcher will move from end to tackle. The Cowboys will convert outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to end. The duo combined for 22.5 sacks and 59 quarterback pressures last season.

Safety is another position that needs improving, especially after the team released Gerald Sensabaugh. Barry Church, coming off a torn Achilles' tendon, is one starter. The Cowboys could opt for Matt Johnson, Danny McCray or a draft pick to start alongside him.

Last season, according to Stats and Information, the Cowboys' safeties combined for only eight pass breakups and one interception, tied for 29th in the NFL. Under Kiffin's defense, the Cowboys are expected to get more pressure on the quarterback which, in theory, allows for more forced throws. That should help create turnovers, especially in the deep secondary.

Getting younger at the position in 2013 might also help in creating turnovers.

Fixing the defensive line and safety position whether it's in the draft or free agency, are just two of the keys for the Cowboys in 2013.