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NFC East Draft Preview: Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys were one of the preseason favorites to go to the Super Bowl after a 13-win season in 2007.

The Cowboys started off on a tear winning their first three games, including the Monday night showdown with the Eagles. But the Cowboys stumbled losing two of their next three games and more importantly Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo to a broken finger on his throwing hand. Brad Johnson proved to be inept in his absence losing two of three including a 21-point blowout loss to the Giants.

Romo returned after the bye and propelled Dallas to three straight wins. It appeared as if the Cowboys were heating up at the right time. Throw in the fact that Dallas traded for Roy Williams from the Lions and it seemed as if the Super Bowl aspirations were once again a possibility. But team chemistry started to break down as reports of in-fighting among the stars on offense - Romo, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten - surfaced.


Chris Clemons' TD was the icing on the cake in the regular season finale

Even though the Cowboys avenged the blowout loss to the Giants, the Cowboys were humbled by the Ravens in the Texas Stadium finale - a game against an opponent that was reportedly hand-picked by Dallas.

The Cowboys still controlled their playoff destiny in the regular season finale and the Eagles sent them home with an embarrassing, humiliating 44-6 defeat - one of the greatest regular season wins in Eagles history. Dallas showed no fight as the Eagles defense battered Romo all-game long with turnovers and punishing hits. The Eagles went to the playoffs as the Cowboys were left to wonder how they fell so far so fast.

2009 PICKS
The Cowboys are one of the more well-armed teams in the league when it comes to draft picks. They are tied for second in the league for the most draft picks with 11.

There is a catch.

Dallas only has one first-day selection (second round, 51st overall) after trading their first-round pick to Detroit in the Roy Williams trade last season. Dallas has the ammo to trade up in the middle rounds with two fourth-round picks, three fifth-round picks and a pair of picks in each of the final two rounds. Only one pick in the fifth round and one in the sixth round are compensatory selections, so the rest can be dealt.

LAST TWO DRAFTSEagles fans were quite surprised when their team traded its first-round pick to the Cowboys in 2007. The Cowboys used that pick to select pass-rush linebacker Anthony Spencer. In his first two seasons, Spencer has started six games and notched 4.5 sacks as the backup to Greg Ellis. Spencer battled through a knee injury early in the 2008 season and contributed mainly on special teams. Ellis has been one of the most prolific sack artists in Dallas history, but he will be 34 years old at the start of the season. With Spencer in place, the future is set at the position.

The Cowboys also selected a pair of offensive tackles in the 2007 draft - James Marten in the third round and Doug Free in the fourth. Free is the backup left tackle to another long-time tenured vet, Flozell Adams. The question is whether Dallas thinks he is the future at the position.

The best player in terms of value that the Cowboys got out the '07 selection meeting was Pro Bowl kicker Nick Folk, who has scored 233 points in his first two seasons in the league. A sixth-round pick, Folk has made 87 percent of his field goal attempts. Dallas also nabbed its starting fullback, Deon Anderson, in the sixth round.

With two first-round picks in last year's draft, the Cowboys addressed both sides of the ball with Arkansas running back Felix Jones and South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins. Jones proved to be a thorn in the Eagles' side with his kickoff return for a score in the Week 2 thriller in Dallas. However, Jones' campaign was short-circuited when he suffered a hamstring injury and then a season-ending toe injury. He did average 8.9 yards per carry and had three rushing scores to go along with his kickoff return touchdown.

Jenkins showed some playmaking skills when he returned his first career interception for a touchdown against the Giants. He was called upon to start in place of the injured Terence Newman at times in 2008. However, fifth-round pick Orlando Scandrick proved to be a nice surprise and will battle Jenkins for the starting spot opposite Newman in 2009.

The Cowboys also got production from their second-round pick, tight end Martellus Bennett, a nice pass-catching complement to Pro Bowl positionmate Jason Witten. Tashard Choice was called into action late in the season with Jones and Marion Barber injured. The scatback was quite effective with 472 yards and scored two touchdowns.

On offense, the Cowboys will look to improve the interior protection for quarterback Tony Romo, more specifically at the left guard spot. To further insulate Romo, the Cowboys need to determine whether he has enough weapons around him at the receiver position following the release of Terrell Owens.

With that in mind, remember that Dallas doesn't pick until late in the second round, the Cowboys could target someone like Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson, Louisville center Eric Wood or Oklahoma wideout Juaquin Iglesias.

If the Cowboys are thinking defense, they need a middle linebacker and a safety. In terms of value, there should be a good number of safeties on the board potentially including Missouri's William Moore or Oregon's Pat Chung.

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