With the 14th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys Select … ?
With defensive coordinator Rob Ryan missing a few pieces to this his 3-4 scheme, the Dallas Cowboys can solidify their secondary via free agency by signing a top defensive back to give them the luxury of drafting a top pass rusher that will fit Ryan’s scheme.
So let’s start with the Cowboys cap space and how much they should be able to spend via free agency. By releasing Andre Gurode and Igor Olshansky before the season began, the cap space they saved in 2011 gave them the luxury to have some money to spend in 2012. And by releasing veteran cornerback Terence Newman, a move expected to be made, the team should have roughly $20 million to spend when the free agent shopping spree begins in March. One of the key free agents that could be available should the Titans decide to part ways with him, the Cowboys should go after Cortland Finnegan, a hard-nosed defensive back that could bring mental toughness to the defense and ultimately a player that can play press coverage with a knock you out attitude, something the secondary has been lacking. This would be a major upgrade to replace Newman who appears to be running out of gas.
With that being said, should they solidify the replacement for Newman, the next move with the 14th pick of the 2012 draft come late April should be an outside pass-rusher, giving Rob Ryan’s defense another athletic player on the opposite side of all-pro DeMarcus Ware. And with Anthony Spencer’s contract expired, the team is also expected to let him go as he hasn’t lived up to the expectations on the opposite side of Ware in his five seasons as an outside rusher. So who do I think would be the perfect fit for Ryan’s 3-4scheme? Take a good look at Illinois DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, a player who led the nation in sacks with 16 while setting a Big 10 record forcing nine fumbles, and adding 22.5 tackles for a loss. Not to mention Mercilus also played defensive tackle giving him a track record of being an interchangeable player with great athleticism.
Now just imagine a player like Mercilus as a standup outside rusher? Sounds like nothing but good music to me. Great pass rushing defenses make a great secondary and Mercilus in my opinion can take the Cowboys defense to the next level.