Three and out: Dallas Cowboys' 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits
In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team's situation and needs.
1. Injuries have tested the Cowboys’ depth at linebacker in recent years. With Anthony Hitchens off to the Chiefs and Sean Lee approaching the tail end of his career as he turns 32 in July, the position is the biggest need on the Dallas defense, even though the unit might look to 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith to take on a larger role.
Advice: The Cowboys could make a big swing and move up in the first round for Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, who likely won’t be available when Dallas is scheduled to pick at No. 19. He’s the type of athletic, versatile linebacker the Cowboys need.
2. Dez Bryant is no longer on the roster, leaving a glaring hole for a team trying to upgrade the supporting cast around quarterback Dak Prescott, who never seemed to really vibe with Bryant between the lines anyway.
Advice: Picking a wide receiver like Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, a far better route runner than Bryant, in Round 1 would make quite a splash at AT&T Stadium on the opening night of the draft. Maryland’s DJ Moore, more of an explosive downfield threat, could also be a good option and open some running room for Ezekiel Elliott.
3. The offensive line might have some flexibility thanks to the signings of tackle Cameron Fleming and guard Marcus Martin. But the Cowboys still need to build some depth on the interior of the line, especially if they decide to keep La'El Collins on the outside.
Advice: The Cowboys used three first-round picks on offensive linemen from 2011-2014, and Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernandez might be an attractive option at No. 19. But there could be value in waiting, especially if Texas’ Connor Williams were to fall out of the first round.
Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.