Alabama safety Mark Barron makes a tackle against Penn State last season.
Alabama safety Mark Barron makes a tackle against Penn State last season. REUTERS

The Dallas Cowboys will be looking defensively in the first rounds of the 2012 NFL draft next week at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The Cowboys were a solid defensive team over the course of the regular season, placing 14 in yards against with 343.2 and 16 in points against with 21.7. But defensive breakdowns were to blame over their 1-4 finish that cost them a playoff spot.

That finish will ultimately force the Cowboys to look to the defensive side of the ball when they select at 14 overall on April 26.

The most likely option for the Cowboys is Mark Barron a 6'1, 213 pound safety out of Alabama. He has the size and strength to play the NFL game right now and he is quick enough to make plays in coverage. Dallas hasn't had a top safety since Darren Woodson left and Barron could be the next guy in that spot.

Gerald Sensabaugh, Mike Jenkins and Brandon Carr all have starting spots locked up in the Dallas backfield next season but Barron could likely push Brodney Pool for that final safety spot next season.

If the Cowboys don't do that, they will look to shore up the middle of their 3-4 defense. Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff do a nice, if unspectacular job for Dallas on the front end. But they may look to upgrade on the defensive front.

If they do, look for them to select Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State, Dontari Poe from Memphis or Michael Brockers from LSU to fill the void.

Brocker, a 6'5, 322 pound stud from LSU is an interesting potential choice for Dallas. Despite his size, he can play both the tackle and end spot in a traditional 3-4 defense. With long arms and a stout frame, Brocker lives on leverage. He is the kind of player who can eat up blockers inside to free up Dallas' talented linebackers to make plays.

Poe is a mountain of a man who led the combine with 44 reps bench pressing 225 pounds. He is 6'3 and weighs 346 pounds. He doesn't have flashy athleticism and will be hard pressed to make plays for himself, but for a team looking for a big body to occupy interior linemen Poe is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Cox would be a dream for Dallas if he fell to them at the 14th pick. Possibly the most talented interior lineman in the draft, Cox can create his own space on the line with an impressive arsenal of moves. But he is undersized, and had trouble dealing with double teams in college.

At 6'4 298 pounds, Cox could be a candidate to slide to the outside, especially in the Cowboys 3-4 look.