Deep pass-rush class could help Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' most obvious need is finding help for the pass rush.

It might help them that their seems to be plenty of pass-rushers in this year's draft based on what was on hand at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

When the Cowboys ran a 3-4 defense from 2005-12, they had to focus their pass-rush attention on certain body types. DeMarcus Ware was the prototype as the college defensive end turned 3-4 outside linebacker.

With a dozen or so teams running a 3-4, the Cowboys had to hope their needs at the position matched up with what was available in a particular draft. Now that they run a 4-3 defense, the Cowboys don't have to make projections because of a position change.

The Cowboys do have distinctive differences in what they look for in left and right defensive ends. At left defensive end, they want a little more size and strength to hold up against the run. At right defensive end, it's purely about athleticism and pass rush.

In other words, it's what the Cowboys had in Ware. While the job descriptions of a 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 right defensive end might be different, the body types are similar.

Some of the top draft prospects, like Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler Jr. and Shane Ray could fit either scheme. Clemson's Vic Beasley came in bigger than many expected (246 pounds) and stronger (35 reps on the bench press) while maintaining his speed. Kentucky's Bud Dupree checked in at 269 pounds and was listed as a linebacker but did not do the drills because of a groin injury. He still ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. Virginia's Eli Harold could work his way into first-round discussions after his combine workout.

Pass-rushers go quickly in the draft. Last year the Cowboys had three right defensive ends in Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr and DeMarcus Lawrence. Clowney and Barr were gone in the top-nine picks. The Cowboys knew they needed a right defensive end as they entered the second round and traded up to the 34th overall pick to take Lawrence

ESPN Insider Todd McShay has teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants looking for pass-rushers in the top 10. The Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have similar pass-rush needs before the Cowboys pick at No. 27.