The Dallas Cowboys defense suffered last season, finishing 24th in scoring and 19th in yards allowed, including allowing the 27th most yards per carry in the NFL. It would make sense to see them address this issue by drafting a big-bodied defensive tackle with their 18th overall pick this year, the kind of player that can finally stuff the middle and put some swagger back into the D in Dallas.
But who could that be?
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The Cowboys traded up for Morris Claiborne last season to upgrade their defense, but that won't be enough. They also likely won't be making any big moves in free agency, as OvertheCap.com currently has Dallas with the least amount of cap space in the NFL. Current defensive tackle Jason Hatcher will be 31, and Dallas will move to a 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin after the departure of Rob Ryan.
CBS Sports is putting out a lot of mock drafts these days, and three of their four "experts" have Dallas taking a defensive tackle, but none of them chose the same defensive tackle. Rob Rang has the Cowboys taking Star Lotulelei out of Utah, a player once rated much higher than 18th, but falling because of health concerns with his heart. Pat Kirwan projects Kawann Short of Purdue. And Pete Prisco thinks it could be Johnathan HAnkins of Ohio State. Here's what Rang said about Lotulelei:
Lotulelei flashes the talent to warrant top five consideration, but his draft stock is on shaky ground after it was discovered during medical testing at the combine that his heart isn't functioning efficiently. At this point in the draft, however, the gambler in Jerry Jones might find Star too talented to pass by.
Which guy will be right? Well, it might be none of them, but thinking that Dallas takes a defensive tackle isn't that much of a gamble at all.