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Cowboys Need To Dig Deep For Draft Gems

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Jerry Jones must draft smart, particularly in the later rounds, for the Dallas Cowboys. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.
Jerry Jones must draft smart, particularly in the later rounds, for the Dallas Cowboys. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.

As documented here earlier, the Dallas Cowboys have a history of finding gems in the late rounds of the NFL Draft. But despite that success, the Cowboys in the Jerry Jones era have more of a history of failing to generate any depth on the roster from their late round picks.

In 2009, the Cowboys had a dozen picks from the third round on. Today, none of those 12 players remain on the roster, and only a handful of them are even still in the NFL.

This year Dallas will go in with just six picks, barring a trade over the next few days, which means the Cowboys cannot afford to make any mistakes. Nor do they need to try to trade down out of the first to pick up additional late-round picks as they have done so unsuccessfully in the past.

Dallas can address its primary areas of need in the first three rounds, and then use their final three picks to select a solid backup to RB Demarco Murray, the eventual replacement for QB Tony Romo and possibly a receiver who could crack the starting lineup by no later than 2014.

Look for the Cowboys to draft an offensive and a defensive lineman in the first two rounds. In the third round, Dallas should take the best player available between either the safety position or another offensive lineman.

When the fourth round rolls around, the Cowboys should be able to find a solid backup for Murray. It would be a small miracle, but if UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin is still on the board, he should be the pick there. If not, Florida’s Mike Gillisee or LSU’s Michael Ford would be nice selections. Or Dallas could hold off until the next round, select South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore and hope he is able to come back from his gruesome injury and be a solid player.

Having dealt with the running back need, Dallas should look to its future without Tony Romo. Taking Southeastern Louisiana’s Nathan Stanley and letting him play Aaron Rodgers to Romo’s Brett Favre for two or three seasons would be a smart move. Duke signal-caller Sean Renfree would also be a good selection to stash away on the bench for a year or two of seasoning if Stanley is not there. Renfree could turn out to be the steal of the draft and a much needed late-round gem for the Cowboys.

When Dallas’ final pick goes on the clock — again, barring any draft day trades — Auburn WR Emory Blake should still be on the board. Blake suffered in an offense with poor quarterback play. Give Blake a quarterback who can and will throw the ball — Romo certainly is all that and more — and he could be the replacement for Miles Austin, who continues to struggle to stay healthy. Another option with the final pick would be to address the slot position and take TCU’s Josh Boyce to replace Kevin Ogletree, who was lost to Tampa Bay in free agency.

If these players are gone, the Cowboys still must find players at these positions in this draft that will stick on the roster and contribute. With the championship window closing on many veterans currently on the team, and with the franchise struggling just to have a chance to make the playoffs at the end of the season the past few years, the draft is where Dallas must succeed in order to reverse that trend.