Dallas controlled its own destiny toward the end of the season, but lost four of its final five games, including two against the Giants, to finish in third place in the NFC East.
The Cowboys will have the 14th overall pick, and will use it to fill one of their many holes. Dallas didn't excel in many aspects of the game, and will look to use the draft to help them avoid another substandard year.
Here are the Cowboys most pressing needs heading into the draft, as well as a few players they will target.
The Cowboys had one of the worst secondaries in the league last year. Dallas was constantly burned in the passing game, allowing 244 yards in the air per contest. The Cowboys were actually pretty good against the run, but couldn't overcome its ineptitude against the pass. With cornerback Terrance Newman moving to Cincinnati, Dallas has even less depth than it did before the season ended.
Gerald Sensabaugh, Brandon Carr and Mike Jenkins are returning starters to a group that allowed the second-most passing yards in franchise history in 2011. The Cowboys desperately need to bring in some new blood at the defensive back position. Dallas signed safety Brodney Pool, but is looking for more of a difference maker in the secondary.
Safety Mark Barron from Alabama seems to be the consensus pick for Dallas at number 14. If it seems Barron could go earlier than 14, there's a chance the Cowboys will trade up to make sure they secure the safety.
Even after selecting Barron in round one, Dallas may not be done drafting defensive backs. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, also out of Alabama, will be on the Cowboys radar when they pick again at number 45. Cornerback Trumaine Jonson from Montana could also be targeted by Dallas in round two.
The Cowboys secondary isn't the only part of its defense that needs to improve. Dallas could also use another defensive lineman to sure up its 3-4 Defense.
Other than Jay Ratliff, the Cowboys don't have another stud on the defensive line. Dallas didn't have a defensive end that could put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback last year.
Assuming Dallas drafts Barron in round one, Devon Still from Penn State could be the team's next choice at 45 overall. Some experts think Still has first round talent, but Dallas will likely take him if he falls to them. Defensive end Andre Branch from Clemson is also an option in the second round. He can play on the line, as well as at linebacker.