Crawford was on track to make a big impact on the Cowboys in 2013. But a torn Achilles’ tendon injury on the first day of training camp ended his season prematurely. He’s spent the last eight months getting prepared to return and the Cowboys coaching staff is excited to see what he can do. Unfortunately, they haven’t decided where they play him. Listed as a defensive end, Dallas head coach Jason Garrett mentioned the possibility of switching him to defensive tackle. The results on next month’s draft will probably factor into that final decision.
Finally, there the curious case of Kyle Wilber. The 2012 fourth round pick out of Wake Forest spent all of last season backing-up and learning from All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware. At the end of the regular season, rumors were Wilber would be moved back to linebacker to compete for the starting role now occupied by Justin Durant. That was before Ware was released. Now, Wilber’s position on the Cowboys depth chart is a bit of a mystery. Ware’s absence would suggest he’d probably remain at defensive end. But Saturday’s signing of Spencer my move him back to linebacker.
With so many questions at the defensive end position, so could argue that it continues to be the Cowboys biggest area of need going into the draft. And as new Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli opts to rotate his players along the d-line at a feverish pace, adding depth to the position via the draft will be a necessity.
But how I do think Spencer’s addition to the roster affects the Cowboys draft strategy is in the earlier rounds. With Dallas selecting No. 16 overall in the first round, I think the idea that pick will be a defensive end is even more remote than before. Many experts felt selecting Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy that high would be a slight reach, as he is still very much a project/developmental player. With Spencer now re-signed, I think Ealy is out unless he falls to the second round.
Instead, Dallas now has a bit more flexibility with their first overall pick. I still think the dream picks would be Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald or UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. But I also think the Spencer signing makes it more feasible for Dallas to draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, if he falls to them at No. 16. Bottom line: The Spencer signing gives the Cowboys more options in the draft, but there is still a fairly large need at defensive end. It’s just not as big as it was on Friday.