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Miles Austin

Miles Austin will cost the Dallas Cowboys $8.2 million next season begging the question, Why?

Cowboys 2014 Draft Needs

The return of Miles Austin is under further review and so is drafting a wide receiver

By Matthew Postins

PostinsPostcards.com

RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down the draft needs at every position group for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the wide receivers.

Wide receivers: Dez Bryant (starter), Terrance Williams (starter), Miles Austin (backup), Cole Beasley (backup), Dwayne Harris (backup), Tim Benford (reserve/future), Lance Lewis (reserve/future), Jamar Newsome (reserve/future).

Cowboys wide receivers entering free agency: None.

Free agency need?: 4 (out of 10, 10 being most pressing).

Why: If the Cowboys cut Miles Austin for salary cap purposes that will leave them with four wide receivers with a NFL catch. The Cowboys would seem to be on solid footing with the four remaining receivers, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t draft another. But with a long-term contract extension looming for Dez Bryant, don’t expect the Cowboys to spend a high pick addressing this need.

Possible Targets

Jared Abbrederis: The former Wisconsin standout had a long career with the Badgers, catching 202 passes in four seasons in Madison. He left school in the Top 2 in program history in receptions, yards and touchdown receptions. He

Dallas Cowboys

Jared Abbrederis won the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy given to the best walk-on in the nation

. Mel Kiper Jr. wrote recently that Abbrederis is “the best route runner in this draft.” At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he poses a formidable target. Right now Abbrederis grades out as a third-round pick according to CBSSports.com.

Ryan Grant: The 6-foot speedster from Tulane is coming off a head-turning Senior Bowl performance in which he showed off his great hands, short-area burst and downfield speed. He came out of the Senior Bowl helping his fourth-round grade and should take that momentum to the National Scouting Combine later this month. Scouts are a bit concerned about Grant’s tendency to not always secure the football. But he has the skill to play on the edge or in the slot, something that could intrigue NFL teams.

Josh Stewart: Shouldn’t the former Oklahoma State Cowboy be higher than a sixth or seventh-round pick? Perhaps. Coming off a 60-catch season in 2013, Stewart decided to come out one year early. He had 1,270 receiving yards in 2012. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, size is one reason scouts are a little down on Stewart right now. But Stewart has the value added of being a returner and can play in the slot. The Cowboys have Cole Beasley, but another slot receiver couldn’t hurt, especially when it comes at the back-end of the draft.

Looking ahead: I could see the Cowboys spending a mid-round or late-round pick on a receiver to shore up depth at that position. The Cowboys have invested two years in developing Tim Benford, so this would appear to be a make-or-break year for him. Adding another receiver in the draft enables the Cowboys to deal with the potential loss of Austin and provide more competition for Beasley. It could also free up Harris to be a pure special teams performer.

Next up: Tight ends.

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