Mel Kiper: Cowboys will draft linemen early

ESPN's NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. predicts the Cowboys will select offensive and defensive linemen in the first three rounds.

It's not something I hear mentioned often, but the age of the Dallas defensive line has crept up. By the time the season starts, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware will be 32, 31 and 31, respectively.

You have to be an ESPN Insider to get the complete three rounds for every NFL team. Kiper also has the Cowboys taking a guard and another defensive lineman in Rounds 2 and 3.

Kiper makes a valid point regarding the line. If the Cowboys draft North Carolina's Sylvester Williams, it could make Ratliff expendable. However, the team might keep Ratliff and create competition for what could be a young, deep defensive line.

Under the new 4-3 alignment, Anthony Spencer and Ware will move to defensive end, where they haven't played since college. The Cowboys also will move Hatcher to tackle, keeping double-teams off Ratliff.

Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford, Rob Callaway and Ben Bass are young players who also will compete for playing time.