The Cowboys, coming off a division title in 2009, shocked the NFL in 2010 when they began the season 1-7 en route to a last-place 6-10 year. So much went wrong for the Cowboys in 2010, in fact, that it's hard to identify one major hole. On the bright side, they did find their coach of the future in Jason Garrett and Tony Romo should be fully healthy and ready to regain the reins at quarterback after a 2010 campaign marred by injury.
On defense, a talented unit that boasts Pro Bowlers like DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff was unable to prevent opposing offenses from gaining 5.76 yards per play in 2010, a mark that was 28th best in the league. The Cowboys pass defense, meanwhile, also was 28th in the league in yards allowed per pass play, so they'd likely be ecstatic to see Patrick Peterson, one of the consensus top players in the draft, still available while they're on the clock at No. 9.
Peterson would be the likely pick in this scenario and would join Terrence Newman, 33, and Mike Jenkins, who is said to have regressed somewhat in 2010, in the cornerback stable. Nebraska's Prince Amukamara has been rumored as a possible Cowboys target here, but that's under the assumption that Peterson is likely to be off the board.
If the Cowboys choose to forego plucking the best player available, they could address the defensive line, where a 3-4 defensive end is on the wish list. The player who supposedly best fits the Cowboys' criteria for the position is Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, so he could be the choice, as could California's Cameron Jordan.
On offense, the team is well-set at the skill positions but has a serious need for a youth movement along the offensive line. The problem is that the top-rated offensive tackles are considered reaches at this point in the draft. If there is a tackle worthy of the selection, it's likely Tyron Smith of Southern California. Smith is athletically gifted for an offensive lineman and, because he declared early after his junior season, he has plenty of room to improve. If the Cowboys were looking for a safer option, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo would fit the mold.
So who will it be? The obvious selection in Peterson or another wildcard? You make the call.
No. 1 - Carolina: QB Cam Newton, Auburn
No. 2 - Denver: DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
No. 3 - Buffalo: LB Von Miller, Texas A&M
No. 4 - Cincinnati: QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
No. 5 - Arizona: WR A.J. Green, Georgia
No. 6 - Cleveland: WR Julio Jones, Alabama
No. 7 - San Francisco: DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
No. 8 - Tennessee: DT Nick Fairley, Auburn