IRVING, Texas – With the Cowboys placing the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for the second straight year, the short-sighted view is to say the Cowboys can push defensive line down the list of needs when it comes to the draft.
The Cowboys can’t afford to be so short-sighted.
The projected starting defensive line is DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and Spencer. By the time the season starts Ware will be 31, Ratliff will be 32, Hatcher will be 31 and Spencer will be 29.
Ware is coming back from shoulder surgery, but the feeling is he will continue his Pro Bowl run in the new scheme. Ratliff has had his sack total decrease every year for the last five years. Hatcher and Spencer (at least for now) are on one-year deals.
Of the backups, only Sean Lissemore, 26, and Tyrone Crawford, 23, should be viewed as potential starters. This does not include Marcus Spears, who turns 30 on Friday, and Josh Brent, whose status is unknown because of the December car accident.
The Cowboys can’t view the Spencer tag as a reason to avoid taking a defensive lineman in the top three rounds.
The draft is not only about 2013. It’s about 2013 and beyond.
When the Cowboys are on the clock for the 18th pick and their highest-rated player is a defensive lineman, take him and be happy.