Next Level draft needs: Dallas Cowboys

Our friends at ESPN Stats & Information are on the same page with Todd Archer, Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon, targeting the defensive line, offensive line and safety as key positions that need to be addressed in the NFL draft, which is rapidly approaching.

Here's some of their reasons:

  • Why offensive line? Although Tony Romo's ability to scramble spares him more sacks, he is prone to mistakes when under duress, making pass protection a key for the Cowboys. Romo threw eight interceptions when under duress last season, most in the NFL.

  • Why offensive line? The Cowboys averaged 2.1 yards per rush before first contact last season, the fifth-worst rate in the NFL.

  • Why defensive line? The Cowboys D-line was one of the league’s most unproductive units last season, ranking 30th in sacks (7.5) and tied for the fewest batted passes (2) in the league. It also contacted opposing rushers in the backfield on only 12 percent of rushes, the second-lowest rate in the league. The result: only five tackles for loss, which was last in the NFL.

  • Why safety? The Cowboys' safeties combined for eight defended passes and interceptions last season, tied for 29th in the NFL at that position. Dallas was exposed downfield last season, allowing a league-worst 96.5 QBR on throws more than 10 yards downfield -- giving up an average of 12.5 yards per attempt, which ranked 31st, and a 53.1 completion percentage, which was 29th. The unit's four interceptions tied for last in the league.