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");Dallas Cowboys offseason evaulation Defense DALLAS - In the NFL,Jimmy Garoppolo Jersey rosters are protean entities, in a constant state of change. As a result, the assessments a front office makes one offseason may well not apply a year or two down the line. A painful test case is offered by the Cowboys 2009 draft. In the second round, the Cowboys came on the clock with only one player remaining on their board to whom they had given a first-round grade: LeSean McCoy.Kam Chancellor Jersey Instead of taking McCoy, the Cowboys traded out of the pick, because they already had what they perceived to be an embarrassment of riches at the position, with Marion Barber signed to a long-term deal and newly-drafted backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. But, as I just noted, NFL rosters change in the blink of an eye: Barber lasted two more years,Antonio Brown Jersey Choice only a bit longer, and 2009 proved to be Felix's last effective season. Had the Cowboys been a bit more committed to a "Best Player Available," they would have had an elite-level running back to carry the ball when the other proved incapable. As it turns out, the Eagles ended up as the beneficiary of the Cowboys philosophical inconsistency, which may go a ways toward explaining Philadelphia General Manager Howie Roseman's championing of the "BPA" philosophy.A.J. Green Jersey A few years back, during his first stint as the Eagles GM, As I noted in a previous post, using the draft to fill holes causes teams to veer away from the board that they have spent millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours carefully constructing. The best teams do as Roseman suggests above: use free agency to fill obvious roster holes, so that they can draft the best possible players. Over the long haul,Chris Johnson Jersey selecting the best players, regardless of position, allows teams to squeeze maximum value out of the draft and increase the team's overall talent. Moreover, it allows a franchise to stack talent at a position, which serves as a hedge against the inevitable roster attrition they suffer from injuries, talent drop-offs and ending contracts.Emmanuel Sanders Jersey With this in mind, the Cowboys under Jason Garrett and Will McClay have declared they want to use free agency not to add expensive talent but to fill holes inexpensively so that they can add talent during the draft. As we can readily see, there were gaping holes throughout the defensive depth chart. Four of the team's top eight defensive lineman saw their contracts expire, as did two of the three starting linebackers, one of their starting corners and an important backup piece in safety and special teams ace Jeff Heath.Dak Prescott Jersey If the goal in free agency is to fill roster holes, there was a lot of work to do. And that's just what the Cowboys did. They offered Heath a $1.671 million tender in order to discourage interest from other teams, then set about addressing their top free agent priority: securing middle linebacker McClain, who was brought back on a one-year deal.Eli Apple Jersey Then, in quick order, they plugged holes at defensive tackle (former Eagle Cedric Thornton), and brought back a cadre of their own players in strongside LB Kyle Wilber and cornerbacks Mo Claiborne and Josh Thomas. In free agency's second phase, they coaxed restricted free agent DE Benson Mayowa from the Raiders by offering him a contract that Oakland declined to match. He filled one of the holes at defensive end spots created by the departures of Greg Hardy and Jeremy Mincey.Jared Cook Jersey The result of all this offseason roster hole plugging—and the fact that they were filled with short-term and team-friendly deals—is that the Cowboys are now poised to take the best player on their board during the draft later this month. In short, their work in free agency offers them tremendous flexibility; if they take advantage of a rich defensive crop, none of the contracts they just signed are so onerous that they cannot jettison a veteran to make room for a younger, more talented draftee. On the other hand, if the draft falls in such a way that they end up getting value by collecting mostly offensive players who drop thanks to a run on defenders,Kelvin Benjamin Jersey the Cowboys will enjoy an improved offense and be able to field a competent defense in 2016. Three years from now, when offensive players like Doug Free, Jason Witten, Terrence Williams and perhaps even Travis Frederick are no longer on the club, they will have stacked good players at those positions and won't be caught with their proverbial pants down, having to extend themselves to fill a roster hole. Given the astonishing speed with which the NFL's personnel landscape shifts, that's the only rational way to proceed.