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Dallas Cowboys 2012 Draft Preview

Shoddy defensive play was a prime culprit in Dallas' 1-4 finish to last season, therefore it's hardly shocking that the majority of prospects rumored to be on the team's first-round radar come from that side of the ball. Defensive tackles Dontari Poe (Memphis) and Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State), South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore and three Alabama players -- safety Mark Barron, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw -- have all been heavily linked to the Cowboys, and all would aid a unit that displayed signs of age while fading badly down the stretch this past year. Dallas won't be ignoring offense in this draft, however, as the offseason departure of 2011 breakout performer Laurent Robinson has made finding a reliable No. 3 receiver a chief objective and a backup tight end would be of use as well. Though the Cowboys appear set at running back with second-year standout DeMarco Murray and former first-round pick Felix Jones, both have had durability issue during their careers, so don't discount Jerry Jones spending a second-day selection at the position to bolster the group.

2011 Record: 8-8

Top Needs: WR, S, OLB

First Three Picks: No. 14, No. 45, No. 81

Number of Selections: 8 (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7)

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2011 - Tyron Smith (OT, USC); 2010 - Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State); 2009 - none; 2008 - Felix Jones (RB, Arkansas), Mike Jenkins (CB, South Florida); 2007 - Anthony Spencer (OLB, Purdue); 2006 - Bobby Carpenter (LB, Ohio State); 2005 - DeMarcus Ware (OLB, Troy), Marcus Spears (DE, LSU); 2004 - none; 2003 - Terence Newman (CB, Kansas State).