Last week I said if he was still there when the Cowboys pick at eighteen, they would make University of Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro their first pick. Opinion on this is all over the map and some that thought the Cowboys would pick Vaccaro first have since changed their mind. I still believe Vaccaro is on the top of the Cowboys shopping list because they have desired, but not had, such a hard hitting and versatile safety since Darren Woodsen.
In addition, it’s almost a necessity for a team employing Monte Kiffin’s Tampa two defense to have this type of talent at the safety position. Kiffin’s defense thrived based on the similar talents of safety John Lynch. Vaccaro is seen as the top safety in 2013 NFL draft not only because he is such a hard hitter, but also because he has coverage skills as well. Sure, this is a draft with many good prospects at the safety position and the Cowboys could get by with a safety picked in later rounds, but Vacarro is really the safety the Cowboys want and this defense needs.
The Cowboys feel they can go after the top safety in the draft, a real game changer in their opinion, because not only does this draft have many good prospects at safety, it is loaded with good prospects for the offensive and defensive lines. Let’s take a look at my other projected selections.
Second round: Larry Warford-Guard, Kentucky. Top guards in the draft, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are likely gone when the Cowboys pick at eighteen and third rated guard Larry Warford is projected to be a mid second round pick, and hopefully still there when the Cowboys pick. There are some areas Warford needs to improve on, but if they get him, the Cowboys will have a massive guard to help their offense for years to come.
Third round: Barrett Jones, Center, Alabama. As an offensive lineman, Jones is a jack of all trades and master of none, having played all offensive line positions for Alabama during his college career. He will be somewhat of a project in the NFL and, as a result, lasts until the third round, where the Cowboys hopefully have a chance to grab him. His versatility makes him a good fit for the Cowboys and he would be an upgrade over what they currently have.
Fourth round: Ricky Wagner, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin. Injury history and some perceived weaknesses possibly will cause Wagner to still be around by the fourth round, where the Cowboys are hopefully able to pick him. Some consider him to be undervalued, so there will be real value there if the Cowboys get him. He is an upgrade over either Doug Free or Jeremy Parnell and the Cowboys get another player to help turn an area of weakness in 2012 to an area of strength in 2013.
Fifth round: Rex Burkhead, Running Back, Nebraska. In the fifth round it’s time for the Cowboys to take care of another area of need, a running back to play behind DeMarco Murray that can be an every down back if needed. With Murray’s injury history, it’s necessary to have something other than a change of pace back, like Lance Dunbar or Felix Jones, ready to go. With Burkhead you don’t get burning speed, or a lot of moves. What you do get is a power runner that can be used some at the fullback position.
Sixth round: Reid Fragel-Offensive Tackle, Ohio State. If Fragel is still around, as projected by some, by the time the Cowboys pick in the sixth round, he will be an excellent selection for the Cowboys to shore up the offensive line. As a former blocking tight end, if they get him, the Cowboys will add more athleticism at the position, as well as more competition for the job in training camp. Even as a late round selection, he is an upgrade over the status quo.
What, no defensive lineman selected? No need to worry, there are always good players that weren’t drafted to be signed, as well as the current roster of defensive lineman, which I believe is deeper than some give it credit for being. By drafting help at safety, the Cowboys help their defense greatly and the offensive selections turn areas of weakness on offense to those of strength. Be prepared for an offensive explosion in 2013 as well as what will truly be a shutdown defense.