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Cowboys use 1st 4 draft picks on defensive players

Associated Press Modified: April 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm •  Published: April 28, 2012

The Cowboys still vastly improved on defense, allowing 22 points and 343 yards per game, but missed the playoffs after losing four of their last five games to finish 8-8 while blowing five fourth-quarter leads. They could have won the NFC East had they won the season finale at the New York Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Dallas was active in free agency as well. Among the signings last month were cornerback Brandon Carr to a $50 million, five-year deal that includes $26.5 million guaranteed, safety Brodney Pool and linebacker Dan Connor.

Wilber's only pre-draft visit was to the Cowboys, and an advantage for the 6-foot-4, 249-pound linebacker who also was a defensive end before Wake Forest switched from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4. He started 36 of his 43 games, with 195 tackles and 13½ sacks.

The 6-2, 220-pound Johnson started all 38 of his games played at Eastern Washington, where he played alongside his twin brother and had 17 career interceptions. His senior season was shortened to seven games by a left biceps injury and he also had a concussion in college.

"It's great I don't even feel it anymore," Johnson said when asked about his injuries. "My health is the best I've felt in all of college."

McSurdy was the Big Sky Conference defensive player of the year after he had 131 tackles last season. He had 112 tackles as a junior.

Coale started 54 of his 55 games at Virginia Tech, and had 165 catches for 2,658 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot, 200-pound receiver returned punts and even punted at the end of college career, averaging 43.5 yards on 13 kicks.

Hanna had 27 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns last season for the Sooners. In 2010, seven of his 18 catches were for touchdowns.

The 6-foot-4, 244-pound Hanna is from Flower Mound, which is only a few miles from Valley Ranch. He obviously grew up a fan of the Cowboys.

Jason Witten, the Cowboys' perennial Pro Bowl tight end, is going into his 10th season, all with the Cowboys, making him the team's longest-tenured player. Tight end Martellus Bennett left Dallas in free agency during the offseason.

"Honestly I didn't know where I was going to go, and just coming to the Cowboys, it was an even better feeling than I thought it would be to just be drafted," Hanna said. "(Witten) is my role model. I've grown up all through football, since I've been playing, a Cowboys fan just watching him and he's been there a long time. He's a great player and I'm really looking forward to getting to learn from him."