Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Cowboys need starters out of draft class

By Calvin Watkins

Missing the playoffs again isn't an acceptable notion around Valley Ranch for the Dallas Cowboys.

There are many questions surrounding this draft class, but the Cowboys can't miss here. The Cowboys have to find a starter or a significant contributor in the first two rounds, regardless if they trade up or down.

PODCAST
Todd Archer joins Ian Fitzsimmons for a heated debate about whether the Cowboys should draft a quarterback.

Listen Listen
"We can say what we want about what we believe in as a coaching staff, but ultimately what we believe in is reflected most by the players we have," coach Jason Garrett said Monday. "In this case, the players we draft. I think we’ve done a good job over the last couple of years bringing the kind of guys in who we think reflect the way we want to play. And we want to continue to do that. You want drafted players to play as quickly as they can play."

The Cowboys found starters in the first round in the last three draft classes, and second-round picks in 2010 (Sean Lee) and 2011 (Bruce Carter) have also become starters.

However, outside of Morris Claiborne in the first round, the Cowboys didn't get much from the rest of the 2012 draft class. Tyrone Crawford (third round) and James Hanna (sixth round) showed some encouraging signs, but Kyle Wilber (fourth rounder) and Matt Johnson (fourth rounder) were disappointments.

"We’ve been fortunate the last couple of years. Mo Claiborne was an instant starter for us and Tyron Smith was an instant starter for us," Garrett said. "We’ve had some guys come in and play early and really be contributors to our team. You want to be able to do that again.

"I think one of the things we feel good about in our organization is we had two really good contributors last year, Claiborne and Tyrone Crawford, but we had some other guys who got banged up early last year and weren’t able to contribute as much as we wanted them to (in) fourth-round picks Wilber and Matt Johnson. James Hanna was a guy who emerged for us towards the end of the year. But we have guys from last year’s draft that we feel like we haven’t even seen yet because of injury, so we expect some things from them in terms of competing with players on our team, competing for roster spots, competing for playing time."