Cowboys almost found Carter replacement

If there is one thing we learned from the 2014 NFL draft in regards to the Dallas Cowboys is the statement they made to weak side linebacker Bruce Carter.

Sitting there in the middle of the first round was Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, whom the Cowboys valued highly.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Shazier at No. 15, sending a surprise to some considering the AFC North team needed help at cornerback.

With Shazier off the board, the Cowboys went to the best player available and snagged Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin with the goal of moving him to guard in his rookie season.

But with the Cowboys having invested a second-round pick in 2011 in Carter, it seems the team is trying to move on from him.

“I think this guy was exceptional, instinctively and he certainly was exceptional with his speed and as fast as Carter is,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said of Shazier, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash. “(Carter is) not that fast. Those combinations of things, probably give you more playmaking ability.”

Jones said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could have used Shazier with middle linebacker Sean Lee and as a solid 1-2 combo. Henry Melton, who plays the three-technique defensive tackle spot, would have protected the weakside linebacker in a sense to make plays one-on-one.

The reality is the Cowboys wanted to replace Carter with a highly-regarded first-round pick. Carter endured some injuries and was benched last season for veteran Ernie Sims. Carter had to get used to changing schemes, 3-4 to 4-3 and move to the weakside linebacker spot.

Carter’s speed was thought to be an asset -- especially in pass coverage -- yet he struggled in that area at times last season.

“The ideal thing is to have Carter come on and be what he wants to be and what we want him to be,” Jones said. “And we hit right on the money here if we get the kinda guy we want out here.”