The 2013 NFL Draft is less than 10 days away and the Dallas Cowboys are making their final evaluations.
The club is looking to improve after missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season. They ended 2012 at 8-8, behind the Washington Redskins and New York Giants for third place in the NFC East.
Jerry Jones has been successful at drafting skill position players of late. From the 2010 and 2011 drafts, both wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back DeMarco Murray have proven to be above average performers, when healthy.
In the first few rounds of this year’s draft, most projections have the Cowboys looking to improve their defense and offensive line. The organization has a few specific players on their radar for their early-round selections.
SS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
If Vaccaro is still available at No.18 overall, it might be hard for Dallas to pass up the opportunity to draft him.
Improving their pass defense might not be the Cowboys’ top priority, but the Texas product may be too good for the organization to let slip away. He’s considered by most experts to be the top safety in his class and could make an immediate impact on the 2013 NFL season.
Despite upgrading their secondary by adding cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in 2012, the team needs to improve at safety. If Vaccaro can live up to his potential, he would help give Dallas one of the best secondaries in football.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
There’s a good chance Richardson will be gone within the first 15 picks, but the Cowboys could be fortunate enough to see him still around at No.18.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers have been rumored to have interest in the junior from Missouri. Dallas might claim him, though, if those two teams decide to pass up on the defensive tackle.
The Cowboys have few greater needs than an above average run stopper. The team allowed 125.2 yards per game on the ground last year. Selecting Richardson in the first round could help Dallas go a long way in improving that number for 2013.
Sharrif Floyd is, by most measures, the best defensive tackle in the draft. After him, Richardson’s combination of size and speed may make him the top player at his position.
OG Larry Warford, Kentucky
Warford isn’t considered to be a first-round talent, but he could be a good value pick for the Cowboys on Day 2 of the draft. Dallas has the 47th overall pick on Friday and they may be looking to take an offensive lineman.
Protecting Tony Romo is one of the club’s top priorities. However, most projections have the best offensive lineman being selected before Dallas’s first-round pick. That could force them to wait until the second round to improve their front line.
In his senior season at Kentucky, Warford didn’t allow one sack. He can play on either the left or right side and has a good chance of starting for Dallas in Week 1.