Jerry must address defense after "smart" first round choice

Jerry must address defense after

Credit: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, and Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones at the pre-draft news conference at Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)



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Posted on May 9, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Selecting Zack Martin with the no. 16 pick in Thursday’s first round is being labeled the “smart move.”

Now, is the move “smart,” simply because the name on the card Roger Goodell took to the podium didn’t read Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M? Or was it really the smart move for the team?

I’m not in a position to give a definite answer to that question, because, as our own Ted Madden points out, it takes as long as a few years to know if a pick actually pans out, and because everything you read about Zack Martin touts him as an impressive football player.

What I can say, though, is that the first round pick puts more pressure on the Cowboys brass to make quality picks the rest of the way.

Again, I have no beef with Zack Martin as a football player. He’ll be a valuable addition to the O-line. But last year’s Cowboys offensive line was the best it has been in several years (it still needs some work, but it’s the Dallas Cowboys we’re talking about - a lot of things need work), and the defense was the worst it has ever been - and amongst the worst in league history.

So what Jerry did by making the “smart” move was avoid the sexy and polarizing pick in Jonathan Football, but he also did nothing to address the team’s biggest need.

Thursday’s pick becomes a big deal - and the “smart” label will be put in question - if Dallas doesn’t find a solution on the defensive side of the ball. Passing on the likes of C.J. Mosley and the top four safeties - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon - in favor of an offensive lineman (no matter how good) shows a lot of confidence in the club’s ability to have a quality draft from here on out.

I’m sure Jerry has some tricks up his sleeve. In fact, Thursday night’s press conference was cut short because there was “more activity to attend to” in the war room. So there’s little doubt the Cowboys will be active in trying to piece together their draft.

But they should keep the surprises to a minimum. They need a defensive lineman. They need a pass rusher. They need help in the secondary. So that’s what they should go out and grab in the coming rounds.

A strong offensive line becomes a moot point if the defense can’t stop the other team from scoring.