Cowboys' time to focus on defense

IRVING, Texas -- The defense-needy Dallas Cowboys opened the draft by selecting offensive lineman Zack Martin with the No. 16 pick in the first round.

For all of those who were upset the Cowboys did not take QB Johnny Manziel, there were an equal amount of people upset the Cowboys did not take a defensive player. Any defensive player.

With a defense that ranked last in the league in 2013 and lost free agents Jason Hatcher (the leading sacker in '13) and DeMarcus Ware (the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks), there was a level of confusion over the Cowboys’ pick.

“We felt like we had needs going into this draft,” coach Jason Garrett said, “You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available. We felt like we did that.”

The Cowboys have 11 more picks. They have one each in today’s second round (No. 47) and third round (No. 78). Maybe now is when the Cowboys will stress defense, defense, defense.

“I would say right now we need a defensive player more than we need an offensive player,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.

The Cowboys lost out on the top safeties on their draft board, especially with Jimmie Ward going in the first round to the San Francisco 49ers. The top two safeties, Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, went to the New York Jets at No. 18 and the Green Bay Packers at No. 21, respectively. The Arizona Cardinals took Deone Bucannon at No. 27.

Several defensive line options remain, including Demarcus Lawrence, Kony Ealy, Timmy Jernigan and Scott Crichton. The Cowboys had each of them in for a visit to Valley Ranch before the draft. Of the group, Lawrence would fill the more pressing need at right defensive end.

“It’s no secret we’d like to have some defense in this draft,” Jones said.

But he would not rule out the best-player-available theory the Cowboys used in the first round.

“I think we’re going to go down just like we made [the Martin] decision,” Jones said. “We’re going to see what player is there available for us. We’re going to see what trades are there, and I wouldn’t want to bet a lot that we might not take an offensive player.”