Rookies Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott emerge as stars during an 11-game win streak, leading to a 13-3 regular-season record. But a gut-wrenching divisional-round loss to the Packers kept the Cowboys from advancing in the post season. Star-Telegram photos Editing by Mark Hoffer
Rookies Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott emerge as stars during an 11-game win streak, leading to a 13-3 regular-season record. But a gut-wrenching divisional-round loss to the Packers kept the Cowboys from advancing in the post season. Star-Telegram photos Editing by Mark Hoffer

Dallas Cowboys

Jabrill Peppers might be a good fit for Cowboys’ defensive mindset

By Charean Williams

cjwilliams@star-telegram.com

March 31, 2017 06:16 PM

UPDATED April 01, 2017 12:00 AM

The Dallas Cowboys ranked 14th in total defense, including 26th against the pass last season, and lost seven players in free agency. They will draft defense, defense and more defense, beginning in the first round.

The Cowboys had only 36 sacks and nine interceptions, making the secondary and the pass rush as top needs.

Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley are among the players who could remain on the board when Dallas drafts 28th.

The NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

1. Cleveland: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M — The Arlington Martin product has done nothing but continue to prove he’s the best prospect.

2. San Francisco: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford — The Coppell product would give DFW a 1-2 sweep.

3. Chicago: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama — The Bears ranked 15th in total defense, including 27th against the run, and made 37 sacks.

4. Jacksonville: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU — The Jaguars need to address their offense, which ranked 22nd, including 23rd in rushing with T.J. Yeldon’s 465 yards leading them.

5. Tennessee: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State — The Titans ranked 30th in pass defense with only 12 interceptions, leaving them to pick the top DB available.

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU — The Jets addressed a number of needs in free agency. But Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist are their starting safeties, and Gilchrist tore his patellar tendon in December.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State — The Chargers ranked only 20th in pass defense last season.

8. Carolina: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee — The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he’s 37 and nearing the end.

9. Cincinnati: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin — The Bengals lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency.

10. Buffalo: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan —The Bills’ returning receivers combined for only 42 catches last season, with Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin exiting in free agency.

11. New Orleans: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama — The Saints ranked first in total offense and 27th in total defense.

12. Cleveland: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina — The Browns have started 18 quarterbacks in the past 10 seasons.

13. Arizona: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame —Carson Palmer, 37, considered retirement after last season.

14. Philadelphia: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama — The Eagles, who made a play for A.J. Bouye in free agency, are in the market for cornerback help.

15. Indianapolis: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple — The Colts, who ranked 30th in total defense and 19th in sacks, need front seven help.

16. Baltimore: John Ross, WR, Washington — Steve Smith’s retirement leaves Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman as the team’s only significant returnees at the position.

17. Washington: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State — The Redskins ranked 21st in rushing with Rob Kelley leading them with 704 yards.

18. Tennessee: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson — Andre Johnson didn’t work out for the Titans last year, with Rishard Matthews leading the team in receiving with 65 catches, 945 yards and nine touchdowns.

19. Tampa Bay: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah — The Bucs used a second-round pick on Donovan Smith in 2015, but he has 24 penalties and has allowed five sacks in two seasons.

20. Denver: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama — Howard’s only two career 100-yard games came in the national championship games the past two seasons.

21. Detroit: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri — Ezekiel Ansah had two sacks in 13 games and is in a contract season.

22. Miami: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan — Cameron Wake is 35, and 31-year-old William Hayes and Andre Branch combined for only 10.5 sacks last season.

23. New York Giants: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford — The Giants, who averaged 3.5 yards per carry, need an upgrade over Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen, who combined for 614 yards.

24. Oakland: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State —The Raiders need a presence in the middle after allowing 375 yards per game last season.

25. Houston: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech — The Texans have had nine starting quarterbacks the past four seasons.

26. Seattle: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama — The Seahawks don’t want to start either Garry Gilliam or George Fant at right tackle next season.

27. Kansas City: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson — Alex Smith ranked 16th in passer rating with a 91.2.

28. Dallas: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan — The Cowboys lost two safeties and two cornerbacks in free agency. The four combined for 39 starts, 254 tackles, five interceptions and 28 defensed passes.

29. Green Bay: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky — The Packers have lost Josh Sitton, who was released before the 2016 season and signed with the Bears, and T.J. Lang, who left for the Lions in free agency.

30. Pittsburgh: Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt — Jarvis Jones left for the Cardinals, and James Harrison is 38 years old. The Steelers need a prospect to pair with Bud Dupree for the future.

31. Atlanta: Obi Melifonwu, SS, Connecticut — The Falcons ranked 25th in total defense, including 28th against the pass.

32. New Orleans: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU — The Saints face Julio Jones and Mike Evans twice a year every year.

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean