By nearly all accounts the Cowboys have done a great job so far this offseason. They have managed to fill several of the most glaring areas of need. But there is still quite a long way to go if the Cowboys want to go from a non-playoff team to a Super Bowl contender.
Let's start on the defensive line. So far the Cowboys have done essentially nothing to improve the most important part of the defense. Sure, they gave Anthony Spencer the franchise tag but all that did was guarantee that the pass rush won't be worse than last year. But, outside of Demarcus Ware, the pass rush was nearly non-existent last year. Bringing Spencer back helps maintain status quo, but changes are needed if we expect to see improvement. The Cowboys can still make a bargain free agency signing or two to help shore up the defensive line and outside linebacker depth. But it seems more likely that they intend to pick defensive line/outside linebacker either the first or second round of the draft or both.
At safety the Cowboys did sign Brodney Pool to replace Abe Elam. But that is a minor upgrade at most. The Cowboys have been trying for far too long to find viable starting safeties. With Gerald Sensabaugh locked up long term at one spot it leaves the other position in flux. Depending on how the draft plays out it might turn out that Pool and Barry Church will share time while Sensabaugh plays full time. It is frustrating to see the same position handcuff the Cowboys defense year after year with no long term solution on the horizon. Maybe Barry Church is the answer but, if he were going to be an impact player, we probably would have seen some flashes of that by now.
Wide receiver depth has become a big concern now that Laurent Robinson has left for Jacksonville. There are some young players on the roster with potential but it is scary to think that one of those guys could be forced to step into a starting role early in the season with the injury history of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. The Cowboys need to find a solid veteran in free agency who can man the #3 spot early in the season while either one of the young players on the roster or a draft pick can get worked into the offense. I'd like to see Dwayne Harris be the answer at the #3 receiver but he obviously didn't show enough during practice last year to warrant much playing time. Maybe a real offseason will do him some good.
The good news is that the Cowboys don't have nearly as many positions of need as they did heading into the offseason. They are set at middle linebacker with the signing of Dan Connor. And they have shored up the middle of the offensive line by signing Mackenzy Bernardeau and Nate Livings. I'm not sure that both guys are starters, but at least the Cowboys have gotten younger and bigger in the middle of the line. Now if David Arkin or Bill Nagy can improve over the offseason there might be some real depth on the offensive line for the first time in a long time.
Fullback seems to now be a position of strength with Lawrence Vickers on board to lead block for Demarco Murray and Felix Jones. I loved what Tony Fiametta brought to the table last season but he couldn't stay healthy. And Vickers is a much nastier lead blocker than Fiametta was. It is exciting to think what a healthy Demarco Murray might do with a big fullback and a real offensive line.
Heading into the draft I'd like to see the Cowboys get a defensive end and/or outside linebacker either in the first or second round, a safety in the first or second round, another cornerback, a wide receiver, and more defensive line/outside linebacker depth. At least the Cowboys won't be entering the draft with a bunch of glaring needs. I think defensive line is still a big need position but they have their bases covered everywhere else.