Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft big board: Athletic LB, Dez replacements, defensive tackle are top options –

Ever since the two big moves they made during the 2012 offseason blew up in their faces, the Dallas Cowboys have operated a little bit differently. They have largely eschewed splashy free-agent signings, preferring not to get burned by another Brandon Carr. They have also been reluctant to sacrifice extra picks to move up on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, not wanting to wind up with another Morris Claiborne. Instead, they have filled roster holes with low and mid-priced veterans, and either stayed put or traded down to select whoever they consider the “best player available” on draft day. 

Dallas has mismanaged its cap situation in other ways, handing out big deals to players that proved to not be worth the money and cutting ties with veterans and leaving a load of dead-money on the books, but the Cowboys’ early-round draft strategy has largely worked very well. Their past five first-round picks are Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and Taco Charlton. Three of those players are among the handful of best players at their position in the entire league. Jones is a solid starter in the defensive backfield and Charlton came on strong down the stretch of last season after a slow start. 

The Cowboys stayed the course this offseason, making a few low-level signings (Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Cameron Fleming, Marcus Martin, Kony Ealy, etc.) while other teams with quarterbacks on rookie deals (hi, Eagles and Rams) went all out to add talent in order to compete with the top teams in the league. And that was before the Cowboys suddenly parted ways with their best wide receiver, Dez Bryant, last week. 

After free agency, the Cowboys don’t necessarily have any major roster holes, but they do have an obvious need for high-level talent at

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