Plugging the Holes: NFC East

The Cowboys need Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr to play better this season. AP Photo/James D. Smith

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In this post-draft edition of Plugging the Holes, Football Outsiders will look at the biggest remaining personnel need of every team, going division by division.

This is the version for the NFC East.

Dallas Cowboys: All three levels on defense

Despite the fact that discussions about Dallas almost always come back to quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys are fine on offense as long as he's healthy. They drafted Notre Dame's Zack Martin in the first round, giving Dallas three first-round picks on the left side of the offensive line with tackle Tyron Smith and last year's pick, center Travis Frederick. The skill positions still have Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray and Terrance Williams, who had a good year for a rookie wide receiver.

In other words, the offense will produce, but can the defense stop anyone? They couldn't last year, ranking 30th in Football Outsiders' DVOA (explained here), and that was with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware up front. Hatcher is now in Washington and Ware will be lining up alongside Von Miller in Denver. Even if Ware is on the downslide, it's still hard to replace a Hall of Fame-caliber player, and second-round rookie DeMarcus Lawrence is unlikely to look like the original Ware right away. The Cowboys hope free-agent signing Henry Melton (Chicago) will be the player he was before last year's ACL injury, but overall they did not have the cap room to sign other significant starters in free agency.