2010 NFL Question Marks: Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25:  (L-R) Alan Ball #20 and Patrick Crayton #84 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Cowboys and their potential issues at free safety.

After the combination of Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham went 20 of 31 in field goal attempts last year, arguably the biggest weakness for the Cowboys this season is kicker.

But who wants to discuss kickers?

The second most glaring issue for the Cowboys heading into the season is at safety. After re-signing restricted free agent Gerald Sensabaugh to a one-year contract in May, the Cowboys have their strong safety spot filled, but questions still remain at free safety.

The ‘Boys were expected to add more competition to the mix at free safety this offseason but never did. Now Alan Ball is slated to start at the spot, despite the fact that he’s a liability in run defense. After making three spot starts at the position last year, the converted corner failed to impress.

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Offseason Blueprint: Jacksonville Jaguars

Notable Free Agents: Mike Peterson, LB; Brad Meester, C; Khalif Barnes, OT; Reggie Williams, WR; Chris Naeole, G; Joe Zelenka, TE.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $15,500,000

Draft Order: 8

Top Needs: OL, CB, LB, WR, RB.

Offseason Outlook: Let the cleansing process begin. The Jaguars have already released long-time veteran running back Fred Taylor, 2008 free agent bust Jerry Porter and disappointing cornerback Drayton Florence. There’s also little to no chance the team makes a play to re-sign middle linebacker Mike Patterson, who was at odds with head coach Jack Del Rio for the better part of the ‘08 season.

The team also made Gene Smith in charge of personnel decisions and Del Rio is expected to take over the defensive playcalls next year, which should turn out to be two sound moves.

In terms of personnel, the team needs to address the offensive line first and foremost and then go from there. The O-line was ransacked with injuries last season, not to mention heartbreak when Richard Collier suffered 14 gunshot wounds in early September, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The Jags don’t have to reinvent the wheel because they’re already got the makings of a competitive team. But they need to regroup and rebuild through the draft and a good start would be to get their hands on one of the top offensive tackle prospects that will be available in the top 10.

Even though his talent is unquestioned, Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith is proving with each passing day that he may be too much of a risk to be taken with the No. 8 overall pick. But Virginia’s Eugene Monrore, Baylor’s Jason Smith or Ole Miss’s Michael Oher could be available and could replace Khalif Barnes at left tackle, who is expected to depart via free agency.

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