NFL Draft Needs: Cowboys, Bears good bets to draft defensive tackle in first round

Frank Schwab
NFL Draft Needs: Cowboys, Bears good bets to draft defensive tackle in first round

Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes.


Dallas Cowboys: Signing Henry Melton from Chicago helps, but he is coming off a season-ending injury last year and if he just replaces Jason Hatcher, who had an unbelievable year before going to the Redskins. And Dallas lost future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware at end. Maybe the team brings back Anthony Spencer, who is still a free agent, but he's coming off major knee surgery and the fact that he's still unsigned tells you he's not going to fix everything. Dallas needs a lot of help, particularly on its horrible defense, and the line is a great place to start. A good inside presence is almost a must at pick No. 16, someone like Florida State's Timmy Jernigan or Pitt's Aaron Donald. NEED LEVEL: Extremely high

Chicago Bears: The Bears loaded up at defensive end in free agency, and that was smart. That doesn't mean the line is set, because there are still holes inside. Henry Melton left to Dallas. Corey Wootton was miscast as a tackle out of necessity, but he's gone too, to Minnesota. The Bears didn't sign one natural defensive tackle, so there's a lot of work to do here. Being able to snag someone like Donald or Jernigan with the 14th pick, two spots before the tackle-needy Cowboys pick, would be a very smart move and accentuate everything they were able to accomplish in free agency. NEED LEVEL: Very high

New England Patriots: The Vince Wilfork issue has been taken care of, but it still showed how tenuous the Patriots' defensive line situation is. New England always seems to have good, versatile linemen but need an influx of young talent, especially inside, to go with depth guys like Chris Jones and Joe Vellano. It's probably a good bet they find someone that fits their scheme with the 29th pick, or sometime in the first few rounds. NEED LEVEL: High

New York Giants: The Giants have had a very good offseason, and the next step will be adding to the defensive line. The Giants don't have that dominant line we remember anymore, then lost end Justin Tuck and tackle Linval Joseph in free agency. Getting defensive end Robert Ayers wasn't bad, but he's never been a difference maker. Having the 12th pick should give them a good shot to improve on the defensive line, or perhaps they'll wait until the second or third round to grab a defensive lineman. But it would be a surprise if they don't address that position, considering their reputation of having waves of defensive line talent. NEED LEVEL: High

Oakland Raiders: The guys the Raiders added to the line, like Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith, are solid players but also older veterans. While it seems the Raiders will use the fifth pick to grab a difference maker on offense, they'll still have plenty of opportunities to get a tackle or end that can basically be the young up-and-coming star they had with departed Lamarr Houston. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks still have a fantastic defensive line, but they don't want that to slip. Losing Clinton McDonald, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons in the offseason hurts the depth on the front. There are other needs (offensive line, receiver) to address as well, but one of Seattle's biggest advantages is being very strong up front, and drafting someone to help on the line will help ensure it remains a strength. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Other teams in need: Tennessee, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Pittsburgh

NFL Draft Needs series
April 18: Linebacker
April 19: Defensive line
April 20: Offensive line
April 21: Running back
April 22: Receiver/tight end
April 23: Quarterback
April 24: Defensive back
April 25: Running back

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!