With the 2012 NFL draft weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys will need to make a few significant picks in order to improve their roster for the upcoming season. Their division rival, the New York Giants, defeated them in the final regular season game last year and ultimately won the Super Bowl.
Not just that, but the Giants are now primed to begin a Super Bowl dynasty and there's a good chance that this could happen.
With this being said, the Cowboys have a lot of work to do in order to get back on top.
The Cowboys' biggest weakness in 2011 was their pass defense, which was one of the worst in the league. The team finally cut ties with veteran cornerback Terence Newman and replaced him with Brandon Carr, who recently signed a five-year contract. The Cowboys also have Orlando Scandrick as a nickel-back. However, the Cowboys' other starting cornerback, Mike Jenkins, had to deal with injuries last year, so in order to improve the depth within this position, the Cowboys should definitely use their first-round pick on Dre Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick, of course, has been a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide for three years. He has emerged as a leader within their defensive backs, but in January, he decided to forgo his senior year and declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. He is considered one of the top college cornerbacks in the nation and should immediately bring a positive impact towards the Cowboys if they select him.
Kirkpatrick was a big part of Alabama's success in the last few years. In 2011, he was named second-team All-SEC by the AP and the SEC coaches. He finished the season with 26 tackles, nine pass deflections and two forced fumbles. He also returned a 55-yard blocked field goal for a touchdown, which shows that he has been productive on special teams as well.
It's very important that the Cowboys have a strong pass defense if they intend on competing in the upcoming season. For years, the NFC East has been one of the most competitive divisions. Not just this, but the Cowboys will be playing six games against three great quarterbacks. This, of course, includes two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who is now widely considered the best quarterback in the NFL, plus the versatile Michael Vick of the Eagles and Robert Griffin III, assuming the Redskins select him with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Those are three quarterbacks that will rack up a lot of passing yards and will give opposing defenses nightmares.
Again, if the Cowboys want to get back on top, they will have to limit those quarterbacks from picking apart their defense, which they have been doing for years.
Furthermore, the Giants and Eagles in particular both have a great group of receivers to work with. The Giants have the league's best receiving duo in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, while the Eagles are not too shabby themselves with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. These receivers all have explosive speed, and their receiving skills are usually too much for opposing defenses to handle. It will be critical that the Cowboys always cover these receivers on every single play in order for them to even have a shot of winning.
Longtime Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hates losing as much as, if not more than, anyone else, so it's without question that he will be doing everything he can to bring the Cowboys a team that can win a Super Bowl year in and year out. A few years ago, he spent over $1 billion on the Cowboys' current stadium, and he feels that it's only proper that one of the more prestigious franchises in NFL history gets a good shot to win a championship every year.
Defensive backs, of course, is not the one and only area that the Cowboys should focus on during the draft. They could really use upgrades on the defensive line and linebacker as well, especially with all their aging veterans getting older and older each season. Offensively, the offensive line could have room for improvement as the team tries to get younger.
All in all, the Cowboys should select Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round to improve their depth at cornerback. They should also draft people at offensive line, defensive line and linebacker in order to potentially become more successful in the 2012 season.