The Cowboys weren’t what you’d call great on defense last year, but they were certainly good enough to not stop progress.
But losing so many starters on that side of the ball, including nearly the entire secondary, and five total players who started at least seven games for them last year could potentially be a big step back.
“There is a little bit of method to the madness here,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “Right now, going into the draft, we feel really good about our numbers. But at the same time we feel this is going to be a great opportunity for us to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
“It just so happens we feel the draft is inordinately strong on the defensive side of the ball.”
It better be. The Cowboys lost both starting cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, safety Barry Church and others in free agency. They did backfill a bit with signing cornerback Nolan Carroll, but their cap space has limited their ability to move. Jones said he’d have liked to kept some of the players they lost, up to a limit.
“Players we want to keep, we keep them,” Jones said. “Most of these players, I’m not going to single out guys, but most of them we were ready to let move on.
“Now, there were a few if they would have been for the right price, we would have done it. But we certainly didn’t want to get into overpaying for anybody.
“At the end of the day, we value our players. At certain numbers, it’s efficient for us to sign them. At other numbers, it’s not.”
The plan is that some existing young players will improve in larger roles, but the majority of the hope is staked to a draft that skews toward defensive talent, particularly a deep group of secondary and defensive line prospects.