Welcome to the 2013 version of Insider's offseason staple series: Red Flags. This is the fifth of an eight-part examination in which Football Outsiders identifies the biggest remaining issue for every NFL team, division by division, after the NFL draft.
Following is the Outsiders' look at the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys: Safety
The Cowboys went into the draft with clear weaknesses along the offensive line and in the secondary, and they addressed each of those needs in the first three rounds of the draft. Normally, that's enough to get a team a passing grade from draftniks and beat writers, but Dallas' draft-day effort was universally panned both for the players selected and the ones passed on. The catcalls began with the first-round selection of Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who was considered a third-round talent at best right up until he picked up the phone and heard Jerry Jones' voice. After watching enough tape of Cowboys center Phil Costa getting driven into the backfield, you can sympathize with Jones for wanting a stouter anchor in the middle of the line, and Wisconsin linemen have been a pretty safe bet since Barry Alvarez was roaming the sidelines, so it's certainly possible the pick will look better come September.
The problem is that what the Cowboys needed more than anything was a safety, and two of the top three prospects, Florida's Matt Elam and Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien, came off the board with the next two picks. Dallas finished the season with a weighted pass defense DVOA of 12.5 percent (30th), and the defense finished dead last in DVOA when covering tight ends. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average metric, explained here.)