Draft questions: Is Jerry Jones in a no-win draft?


With the 2013 NFL Draft approaching, Around The League will examine one big question facing all 32 teams. Next up: The Dallas Cowboys

Is Jerry Jones in a no-win draft?

All the revenue in the world can't buy flexibility. Under Jerry Jones, the Cowboys often paint themselves into a corner when it comes to personnel. They have a ton of needs, but they don't have the salary cap room to address them in free agency.

They need to clean up many parts of the offense, yet their draft may be almost entirely focused on defense because Jones emotionally changed defensive schemes after the season.

Firing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan created more needs for a team that is trying to win now. The Cowboys have sold their current personnel as natural fits for the 4-3 scheme under new DC Monte Kiffin, but there still will be a period of transition. And the Cowboys don't have a lot of long-term pieces. Both safety starters are shaky. Help is needed there. Defensive linemen starters Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff are year-to-year at best. Dallas needs more numbers. Projected starting linebacker Justin Durant is a band-aid solution. The team is looking for different kinds of linebackers -- lighter ones.

The transition to a 4-3 defense looks especially bumpy when you look at the team's depth. Coach Jason Garrett told Around the League at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team went through each position to see how players would transition to the new scheme. Most of the key pieces fit.

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But when you look past the starting unit, the depth behind nearly every position is non-existent. This is a top-heavy team. This is what happens when too many players are overpaid and you don't have a lot of salary-cap room.

Dallas has plenty of big needs on offense. They would love to give Doug Free competition at right tackle or improve their guard position. They don't have a quality backup running back, and their No. 3 receiver position is once again a mystery. (This is especially important with Miles Austin so prone to injury.)

These are important positions. Depth matters. Few contending teams will experience bigger drop-offs if they suffer injuries. The Cowboys need help on offense, and yet I don't think they can afford to invest much there in the draft because the defense is starting over from scratch.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.