Commentary

Cowboys shouldn't ignore offense

There are several positions that could use reinforcement from draft selections

Updated: April 25, 2012, 3:06 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

The Dallas Cowboys have standout offensive players in Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith.

And while it appears those players are either at their peak or emerging as dependable starters, it doesn't mean the Cowboys should ignore offensive possibilities when the NFL draft begins Thursday night.

There is uncertainty at backup tight end and wide receiver, as well as the interior of the offensive line.

While it's expected the Cowboys will select a defensive player with the No. 14 pick Thursday night, an offensive selection, such as Stanford guard David DeCastro, shouldn't be considered a surprise.

The Cowboys have spent $30 million on free-agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings to improve the interior of their offensive line that struggled with health and ineffective play in 2011.

Coach Jason Garrett always talks about improving the roster and creating competition at several positions.

Guard is a big one. If Romo can feel comfortable in the pocket and not feel he has to move around, then getting a quality guard in the draft to compete with the players already on the roster should be viewed as a positive.

"None of these guys we brought in [we can] say you are the anointed starter," Garrett said last month. "They're here to create competition in our team, and we feel they are the right kind of guys individually as people but also with their talent."

Martellus Bennett underachieved with Dallas last season and now he's with the New York Giants.

That leaves just Jason Witten and John Phillips at tight end. The Cowboys are expecting a better season from Phillips, who played last season after ACL surgery.

Grabbing a tight end -- such as Ladarius Green, DeAngelo Peterson or Michael Egnew -- in the middle rounds is possible.

Yet, Garrett is looking forward to seeing what Phillips can do in 2012.

"We'll continue to look at the free-agency landscape as we go, who becomes available and see if any of those guys fit for us," he said. "Sometimes, there is a feeling that free agency is those first three days. Well, free agency goes on and on and on. I think teams will make moves and we have to be open to not only tight ends but any positions where we feel the guy might help our football team. We'll continue to do that right up to the draft, right after the draft."

[+] EnlargeDavid DeCastro
Matt Kartozian/US PresswireWhile it's expected the Cowboys will select a defensive player first, such as Stanford guard David DeCastro, they also need to address the offense at tight end, wide receiver and offensive line.

Laurent Robinson was a surprise last season at wide receiver. He led the team with 11 touchdowns, but he was the No. 3 receiver. The Cowboys elected not to offer Robinson a contract. But Robinson was valued so much that after he signed with Tampa Bay, Garrett spoke with him as a sign of respect.

Without Robinson, the Cowboys are left with inexperience -- Dwayne Harris, Raymond Radway and Andre Holmes -- and underachieving -- Kevin Ogletree -- in players behind Bryant and Austin.

Should the Cowboys draft a wide receiver? Not in Round 1, mind you, but in the later portions of the draft?

The Cowboys need a dependable slot receiver who isn't afraid to go over the middle and possibly return kicks and punts.

When the Cowboys drafted Harris in the sixth-round last year, they thought he could return kicks and maybe challenge Ogletree for some playing time.

Harris struggled on returns until late in the season when he picked up some rhythm.

Finding a receiver who creates competition among the backups is a must for the Cowboys.

While the defense struggled at times in 2011, there are some offensive positions that need to be addressed in the draft.

By the end of the weekend, we'll have some answers.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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