DeMarcus Ware exit creates Dallas Cowboys pass-rush need

The unceremonious exit of DeMarcus Ware from the Cowboys sheds more light on a glaring need for the team: a pass rusher. And while Dallas' No. 16 pick in the draft might be a bit high for Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, his pass-rushing style is starkly similar to that of Ware.

And so are their backgrounds. Both Alabama natives, Ware is from Auburn and played collegiately just up the road from Auburn at Troy University. Ford went to Auburn from Odenville, Ala.

Home-state kinship aside, the Cowboys would have an awfully hard time drafting a player more fitting of Ware's role than Ford. At 252 pounds, he's roughly Ware's size (albeit two inches shorter). Ford is a self-described speed rusher whose first step gets him around the corner of the pocket against offensive tackles who can't reach him. But he has strength and polished pass-rushing moves that allow him to set up offensive linemen for inside moves as well. Sound at all like Ware's game?

The earliest Ford is projected to go in the mock drafts of NFL Media analysts is 20th to the Arizona Cardinals by Charles Davis. While the vogue projection for the Cowboys at No. 16 is to draft a safety, perhaps Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, it's certainly not inconceivable that they could consider trading down a few spots to add mid- to late-round picks, and grab Ford later in the first round instead.

Ware is coming off career lows of six sacks and 13 games played last season. His 117 career sacks is a club record, but he ranked just third on the team in that category in 2013. But on a club that ranked just 25th in the NFL in sacks as a team (34), it's not as though Dallas has the returning veterans to fill Ware's shoes.

Ford, on the other hand, could be up to the task.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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