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2016 Dallas Cowboys Offseason

eagle eye

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Already thinking about the draft. For all the griping about Dallas needing to find the successor to Tony Romo the Cowboys have only half way tried to do that. In fact, they haven't even gone half way. They sort of tried in 2009 when they drafted Texas A&M's Stephen McGee but he never even came close to being an NFL QB. Now, in 2012 Dallas got the perfect guy to be the backup when they signed Kyle Orton. Orton was a veteran and he had success starting in the NFL. He wasn't the QB of the future but he was a guy who could come in and win games if Romo went down. Orton replaced Jon Kitna who retired after the 2012 season but after the 2013 season despite being under contract Orton forced the Cowboys to release him. It was said he wanted out of Dallas because he didn't like Tony Romo. Orton started for the Bills in 2014 and did a good job but his heart was no longer into football and he retired. In 2014 it was a QB rich draft and Dallas didn't take a QB at all. They could have had Derek Carr in the 2nd round or Jimmy Garropolo in the second round but they would not have gotten DeMarcus Lawrence. That is a tough call there. Dallas could have taken either Alabama's AJ McCarron or Georgia's Aaron Murray in the 5th round. Dallas actually took WR Devon Street who hasn't shown much so far in the NFL. McCarron has been playing for Andy Dalton the past few weeks and he has done a pretty good job. I was shocked that McCarron dropped to the 5th round because all the guy ever did in college was win. I think Dallas missed the boat on him. I also think Dallas missed the boat on Landry Jones who came out of Oklahoma in 2013. He fell to the 4th round. If Dallas would have taken him they would not have gotten JJ Wilcox. Wilcox is a player I'm totally done with. The guy hasn't gotten better and his abject failure to take proper angles to make plays is totally perplexing. He sucks in coverage and he is constantly late to his position or just plain out of position. By contrast Landry Jones has been learning from Big Ben as a member of the Steelers. He made his regular season debut in October vs the Arizona Cardinals and rallied the Steelers from a 10-6 deficit to a 25-13 win throwing 2 TD passes to Martavis Bryant.

I don't know about this 2016 QB draft class outside of the 2 guys who are getting the most press, Jared Goff from Cal and Paxton Lynch out of Memphis. There seems to be a dark horse in Carson Wentz from North Dakota State but outside of that nobody really sparks any interest from me. I'm not in on Michigan State's Connor Cook and I'm just not really feeling it for Ohio State's Cardale Jones or Penn State's Christian Hackenberg. I will be very interested in seeing how Alabama's Jake Coker does against Clemson. I was really high on Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield until he threw some dumb picks against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The guy does have something and he sure put a spark into the Sooners offense. He did well enough to come in 4th in the 2015 Heisman vote and he won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. His run of beating Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State, all top ten teams at the time Oklahoma played them, was a tremendous accomplishment for Mayfield and the Sooners. Trouble is Mayfield may not come out for the NFL draft this year. He may use his last year of eligibility to try to help Oklahoma make another run at a National Championship.

It will be a very interesting draft with a lot of people wanting different things. The Cowboys need a QB but they could use a running back and a cornerback or two and another decent wide receiver. Yep, it will be an interesting spring indeed.

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Dez had successful surgery on his ankle and foot. As for the foot, it seems when they did the bone graph the graph came loose. There's no telling when he did it but according to reports from Valley Ranch Dez is not a good patient. I don't mean that in a bad way, he's just anxious to get back to normal and it's hard for a guy like that to be patient in his recovery time when his team mates are out on the field. During the offseason there is nothing Dez needs to do except listen to the doctors and let his foot heal. His ankle was just a clean out, a sort of preventative maintenance sort deal. The bottom line is Dez should be ready when off season work begins in March or April without restrictions.


Tony Romo's collar bone is healing nicely according to reports. It should come back even stronger than before. The Cowboys and Romo didn't admit it but it's pretty obvious Romo came back too soon trying to help the team and he got hurt for his trouble. Like Dez, he doesn't have anything to do now, there is no pressure to get back on the field because the season is over and he can allow himself to heal completely. Hopefully, both Romo and Dez will be back better and healthier than ever for the 2016 season.


Another guy is getting some medical attention and that would be DT Tyrone Crawford. It has been reported that he has been playing most of the season with just one good arm. He said this week that he has been playing with a rotator cuff issue since Week 2. It was not clear if Crawford would require surgery to fix the arm but he has since found out he will need the surgery. The surgery was actually scheduled for yesterday. The Cowboys actually approached Crawford at mid season about his shoulder which was, at times, so painful he couldn't lift his arm to brush his teeth. Crawford elected to play through the pain because he didn't want to let his teammates down. Crawford tweeted this yesterday after the surgery,


Surgery went great and got my fiancé by my side! Life is great! Thanks for the prayers ... https://t.co/NLQAqn7Hwi pic.twitter.com/GNJuaGyo38— TC98 #WorkK (@TCrawford98) January 7, 2016.


It has been reported that the Cowboys and Jaguars coaching staffs will coach and north and south All Stars at the Senior Bowl on January 30th. Their will be 2-55 man rosters that will be getting their first taste of NFL coaching. More importantly, the Cowboys and Jags will get the first look at the top draft senior prospects and they will get a decided head start on the 30 other NFL teams who will get their first look at these players at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, in evaluating these players. To show what a benefit NFL coaches who coach at the Senior Bowl, the Jaguars who coached at last year's Senior Bowl ended up with 3 players on their roster, TE Ben Koyack, LB Hayes Pullard, and CB Nick Marshall.

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Okay, Jason Garrett is not being fired. Get over it. Did he make mistakes? You bet but he also had crap for backups to work with. That isn't his fault, that's Jerry's and Jerry has admitted as much. The Cowboys will need to learn from this nightmare of a season and move on. I think they will because man for man, Dallas is still the best team in the NFC East when Romo and Dez are healthy. Trouble was neither were healthy most of the season.


Did a light go on in Terrence Williams head in Week 17 that made him perform the way he did against the Redskins. He had career highs in receptions and yards as the No 1 receiver in Dallas' offense. Or, was it just the Redskins building up a big league and playing a loose zone defense that enabled Williams to "go off" the way he did. I think maybe it is somewhere in between. Williams needs to build off that game and show he can be a force with, or without, Dez in the same way Martavis Bryant or Markus Wheaton do in Pittsburgh. I think I'm done with Devin Street, the guy has really shown nothing is numerous opportunities this season. I think I would like to see a little more of Bryce Butler. The trouble with Butler is he spent most of his season on the sideline with a hamstring injury. I know Butler is fast and that is commodity Dallas needs but the last thing we need is another Miles Austin who spent most of his time in Dallas nursing hamstring injuries. As they say, been there-done that.


What should Dallas do with that 4th pick in the draft? QB of the future? Maybe, but it's a shame for Dallas that Clemson's DeSean Walker isn't leaving college for the NFL this coming season. That kid was really impressive last night. You know he was good when Kirk Herbstreit said he was a great athlete like Vince Young who can throw better when comparing Walker's performance last night with VY's National Championship game against USC. Walker would be an ideal guy to draft and spend a couple of years learning the NFL game from Tony Romo and then stepping right into his shoes when he retires. People are saying that Goff from Cal and Lynch from Marshall are the top two guys in the draft this year but if Walker was to come out I think he would leapfrog both guys.


How about non-QB talk? DT Jeremy Mincey is a free agent now and he is 32 years old. He was the leader in sacks for Dallas in 2014 and he was a non-factor in 2015 for one reason or another. The thing about Mincey is he is always willing to talk to the media and he did so yesterday. Most of the conversation seemed to be on whether Greg Hardy was a distraction in the Cowboys locker room. Mincey tried hard as hell not to diss Hardy but he managed to anyway. He didn't say it in so many words but he inferred he was a distraction as the season wore on. It's a fact that Hardy did not live up to expectations this season but he did play well according Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com. If you asked me the question, was his performance worth the public relations nightmare the Cowboys had to weather when they signed him, I would have to say no. He had only 35 combined tackles (solo and assisted) and by contrast the team leader in tackles was Sean Lee with 128. Hardy had only six sacks while right defensive end Demarcus Lawrence led the team with 8. Hardy only forced two turnovers, one fumble recovery and one INT. This last stat is an indictment of the whole team who forced a franchise low 11 turnovers on the season. I would not bring Hardy back. He's just not worth the headache IMO. I would like to see Lawrence move to left DE and try out David Irving at Left DE. Irving showed up and got better each and every game he played after Dallas claimed him off the Chiefs practice squad. Now don't go telling people I think he's as good as Ed "Too Tall" Jones was back in the day, all I'm saying is he's tall and athletic like Jones and he showed some promise this season. Despite Dallas using Irving as a defensive tackle he was listed as a defensive end. The guy really is athletic and he's quick and fast and he can play the run. Randy Gregory would be used as a pass rush specialist on passing downs and I really would like to see this scenario in preseason this summer.

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There are a lot of questions that need answers this off season but I have to say for a team with such high hopes at the start of the season it's a little disturbing that they fell off the table the way they did. To me there are 4 major things that Dallas has to fix this off season.


1. Quarterback - They need to address the QB position. Does Dallas sign a veteran guy and ignore the position long term the way they have in the last decade? IMO the Cowboys can't afford to pass on the position any more but, that doesn't mean they have to take a guy out of desperation either. The top guys so far in the pre-draft hype machine are Jared Goff from Cal, Paxton Lynch out of Memphis and Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State but if none of them are as close as possible to a lead pipe cinch I don't want Dallas to reach on a player with the 4th pick in the draft. Besides guys like Derek Carr (2nd round), Brock Osweiler (2nd round), AJ McCarron (5th round) and Landry Jones (4th round) prove that a quality QB can be had outside of the 1st round. With Romo under contract for the next few years it would appear the Cowboys have the luxury of picking a guy and allowing him to watch and learn for a couple of years in an old school method of bringing along a new quarterback.


2. Linebacker - Dallas has some free agent issue with their current crop of LB's as MLB Rolando McClain and SAM LB Kyle Wilbur could be players that need to be replaced. The only top 5 prospect is at weak side LB is UCLA's Myles Jack who injured his knee last September in a routine practice. He tore the meniscus in his knee. Jack withdrew from the UCLA by October saying he wanted to concentrate on rehabbing his knee and preparing for the NFL draft. Prior to his injury he was considered a 1st round talent but after a serious knee injury and being out of the game for a full season there seems to be a lot of question marks to chance using such a high pick on the player.


3. Cornerback - Questions abound here too. Orlando Scandrick (remember him?) is coming off an torn ACL. Mo Claiborne is a free agent and Byron Jones looks earmarked for safety but he is capable of playing both positions at a high level. The highest rated CB is Fla State's Jalen Ramsey, currently the only top 10 draft prospect at the position. The only real bust so far in the last six years in the first round is Mo Claiborne who Dallas traded up to get 5 years ago with the sixth pick in the 2012 draft. The only reason he is considered a bust is not because of poor play, it's because he can't stay on the field. It has been one thing after another that has plagued Mo in the 4 years he's been in the NFL. Not living up to expectation is the worst sin possible to fans and Claiborne has fallen short of 6th round pick expectations.


4. Wide Receiver - With Dez Bryant missing 7 games this season and slowed by his broken foot injury suffered in Week 1 against the Giants in pretty much all of the 9 games he was in with the exception of the Miami game there has been an opportunity for the rest of the WR corps to step up and make plays for Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel. Unforfunately, nobody did. I suppose you could say that Terrence Williams did come through in 2 games this season, the win over Washington and again the loss to Washington a month later. That just don't cut it. Williams needs to show more in the future. I have to confess that I'm jealous of the Steelers with their trio of Brown, Bryant and Wheaton. I want that sort of three headed monster for Dallas but the Cowboys have to draft better. The Steelers got Antonio Brown in the 6th round, Martavis Bryant in the 4th round and Markus Wheaton in the 3rd round so you don't necessarily have to use a first round, a high first round, pick to get a good receiver you just need to draft well and coach well. Terrence Williams has played well in spurts but consistency hasn't been there. The top prospect so far is Ole Miss's Laquan Treadwell and he would be a really nice addition to the offense.


That is just the tip of the ice berg of needs. With the Senior Bowl next weekend and the first up close and personal look at all senior prospects in this year's draft the process of evaluation is about to begin. It should be an interesting time as the march to Super Bowl 50 is in full swing. I want to suggest to all of you interested in the NFL draft that you give a podcast on DallasCowboys.com a listen. The show is called "The Draft Show" and features former NFL scout and current DallasCowboys.com analyst Bryan Broaddus, CBSSports.com draft guru Dane Brugler and DallasCowboys.com writer David Helman. It comes on Fridays at 11:00 AM but next week there will be expanded coverage as they cover the Senior Bowl week activities.

Edited by eagle eye
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Here are a couple of articles from DallasCowboys.com previewing this weekend's Senior Bowl.


The first is courtesy of Bryan Broaddus who says there are 3 players from skill positions to keep an eye on this week.




The second article is also by Broaddus and he talks about the plethora of defensive players who will be featured this weekend.




There is one last article from beat writer Rob Phillips about how the Senior Bowl has been kind to the Cowboys over the years.



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The Cowboys now have 5 Pro Bowlers after LB Sean Lee was added to the PB roster yesterday. This will be Lee's first PB selection and he made the team because he was the first alternate because he did have a heckuva season and because of the injury to Kansas City's Justin Houston. Lee actually was able to play almost the whole season as he missed just two games. One game he missed because he was under the NFL concussion protocol and he missed the last game of the season with a hamstring injury. I'll bet money that if Dallas was playing for anything but pride in Week 17 against the Redskins he would have been on the field.


Dallas has actually made a couple of signings. Dallas signed three players to futures contracts which gets them under the Cowboys control going forward. The players are Justin Renfro, Jared Smith and Jerrell Harris. Here's the article by DallasCowboys.com's David Helman telling us about the newest Cowboys.




Also, from DC.com is another Senior Bowl preview by Bryan Broaddus. In this installment he talks about some under the radar prospects to take note of. Last week I posted the Senior Bowl was this week based on what the guys on DallasCowboys.com's podcast The Break. I failed to confirm that info and much to my surprise on Monday there was no Senior Bowl coverage. Turns out that there is another All Star game being played this week, the East-West Shrine game. NFL.com's Mike Mayock wrote an article about his take on this weekend's game.




Recently Tony Romo hold HBO's Bill Simmons he plans to play 4 more seasons. Romo turns 36 in April. I guess the unspoken caveat is "as long as he stays healthy" which is something Romo is having trouble doing in recent years. We'll see what happens but personally I hope he can play at a high level for those 4 years AND stay on the field. If Romo had played this season that ugly 4-12 record would likely have been a more reasonable 10-6 which would have written their ticket into the playoffs. The Cowboys biggest problem is they tried to go cheap at backup QB and the guys they tabbed to play just weren't very good. Even Brandon Weeden, who won a game for the Houston Texans, is not that good and maybe the Cowboys offense isn't compatible for Weeden's skill set. Either way Weeden was not the guy Dallas should have hung their hats on. Neither was Matt Cassel and given what the recent past has taught us Dallas should have seen that before they signed him. As good as the player personnel group for Dallas has been recently this was definitely a whiff.

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The most important thing between now and the 2016 NFL draft is all the pre-draft evaluation that is taking place. Today is the East-West Shrine game and next week it will be the Senior Bowl then the biggest showcase of them all, the NFL Scouting Combine. Scouts, coaches and GMs around the NFL will be pouring over hours and hours of film on all the prospects until they are blue in the face and still the process with go on until everyone gathers in Chicago, Illinois on April 28-30 to decide the futures of some 230 or so college football players. The NFL draft is, by far, the most ballyhooed draft event in professional sports without question. The hopes and dreams of all 32 NFL teams reside in the auditorium where the draft is held including those of the Dallas Cowboys and their fans.

There will be mock drafts from now until the actual draft takes place, in fact, there have been mocks already posted as soon as the final gun of the final game of the regular season sounded. This is crazy because the final draft order won't be decided until around 10 PM on February 7th after Super Bowl 50 is over. By the time the Super Bowl is done both the East-West Shrine and the Senior Bowl will be over and done with and the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis will begin just 17 days later. There will be regional combines beginning with one in Houston on February 13th followed by Arizona (Phoenix) on Feb 20. There will be 3 other regional combines in Baltimore (Feb 27), Minneapolis (Mar 5) and New Orleans (Mar 12). Of course colleges will host NFL pro days to showcase the players from their school hoping to make one last impression prior to the draft. Of course player evaluation has been taking place for literally years as scouts and player personnel directors and GMs track the progress of players all the way back to high school through the year they are eligible for their own NFL draft opportunity. Tell me that the NFL isn't a proactive business and I'll tell you that you haven't been paying attention.

Discussion of who Dallas will draft has been under way since the afternoon the Cowboys were mathematically eliminated from contention for the playoffs way back in Week 15. A week ago Friday the Cowboys official website began airing their annual podcast called "The Draft Show". The show features, as it has the past two years, former NFL scout and current DallasCowboys.com reporter Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com writer David Helman (the most cynical guy you ever saw) and CBSSports.com's draft maven Dane Brugler. Brugler is all in on the NFL draft publishing one of the most detailed and comprehensive draft player profiles in the industry. If you are a draft geek Brugler's draft guide is a must have. It can only be obtained via Brugler's website which I will provide as soon as it is available. I enjoy listening to their podcast because the 3 guys get along but are not afraid to disagree with another's opinion. It's a good show. The first show of this season was a week ago Friday and will air every Friday at 11 AM on DallasCowboys.com live and can be watched anytime afterward. I decided to post a link to this week's show as they discuss the East-West Shrine game and a bit of the Senior Bowl along with Brugler's top 50 prospects as of now but will certainly be subject to change as the process continues.


Oh, in case you're wondering, these aren't some old farts spewing old fart info. Broaddus is no spring chicken but Helman and Bruglar are under 30 guys who have done their homework.




The Cowboys coaching staff will be coaching the north squad in the Senior Bowl and they will get an up close and personal look at a 104 prospects playing in the game including Carson Wentz who led his North Dakota State Bison team to the FCS Championship for the 2nd year in a row. In his final preview of the Senior Bowl Broaddus looks at Wentz and 2 other defensive prospects who will be in Mobile next week.




Here's a link to NFL.com's College Football 24/7 Editor Dan Parr who talks about Wentz in a "Path to the Draft" series. I am talking Wentz because he is very closely linked to the Cowboys right now. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah in his first mock draft has Dallas taking Wentz with their 4th pick in this year's draft.




CB Orlando Scandrick missed all of the 2015 season because of a torn Achilles tendon. In a post on DallasCowboys.com Scandrick gives us a look at his rehab via his Instagram posts. Here is the article from DallasCowboys.com's Taylor Stern and Scandricks Instagrams.



Edited by eagle eye
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The Cowboys were supposed to have day to day coverage at the Senior Bowl week activities this week but I guess that aint' happening because, so far, there hasn't been squat podcast wise out of Mobile Alabama from anyone at DallasCowboys.com. There are obviously logistical problems involved to prevent them from broadcasting any shows. Too bad.


One change happened prior to the Cowboys coaching staff departing for Mobile. Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson's contract expired at the end of the Cowboys season and he had some job interviews including the head coaching vacancy in Cleveland. His last interview was with the Atlanta Falcons who ended up hiring Henderson as their passing game coordinator. So, while the top dogs on the coaching staff are safely under contract there looks like there will be a change or two this off season.

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Dallas coaches have been preparing for this Saturday's Senior Bowl as they will be coaching the north squad. They are sure getting a long look at Carson Wentz and they should know whether or not they are going to target him in the draft in April after this week. I know there's still the combine and pro days to come, blah-blah-blah. The Cowboys will never get a better chance to evaluate Wentz, as well as the other 9 QBs in Mobile right now, that being on the field and in meetings with them. All I can say is, if Dallas uses the #4 pick in the draft he had better be as close to a slam dunk as humanly possible otherwise the Cowboys need to get a real stud at another position. My wish list would include wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback. To me if there is a clear cut Luke Kuechly-type player Dallas should be all over him like white on rice. Dallas is never going to give Rolando McClain a long term deal. They can't because McClain is one failed drug test away from being suspended for a whole year. You don't give a player who one foot on a banana peel and one foot out the door a long term deal. I would just be bad business. If McClain will play on a one year deal, fine. I'd sign him to a contract you could void completely if he fails a drug test. Structure the deal, if possible, to not slam your salary cap if he goes all bonehead on them. If there is a stud out there, I'd be holding the door open for McClain when he left.


There were supposed to be daily updates on the Senior Bowl and I was beginning to wonder about it as late as Tuesday afternoon. Then, lo and behold, at 6:30 pm there was the special edition of The Draft Show as promised. It was just broadcast in the evening. Check out the hour long episodes of Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the show on DallasCowboys.com.


Okay, I have been too busy to keep up daily on the Senior Bowl coverage but I wanted to give the Scout's Eye series of player evaluations by Bryan Broaddus. Being a former NFL scout he always has insight to players fans need to keep and eye on when they watch the game this Saturday.












One guy who has been impressive, if you listen to Bryan Broaddus, Dane Brugler and David Helman from The Draft Show is that former Ohio State QB turned WR Braxton Miller has been impressive this week. The cool thing is he isn't really expected to be taken until the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft. Here's an article from DallasCowboys.com's Rob Phillips about Miller.




The draft of the pro bowl teams was held on Tuesday night with Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice again serving as team captaitens making the picks for their respective teams. Irvin was able to select all 5 of the Cowboys pro bowl players for his team. Pro Bowl practice began yesterday in Hawaii for Sunday's game. It's the least interesting all star game of the big 3 major sports and it is usually just a waste of time watching players who are trying to have some fun and not get hurt. I may watch some of the game but, if I don't, it won't matter.


Just a painful reminder. This is the 20th anniversary of the Cowboys last Super Bowl victory. Dallas beat the Steelers in Arizona and CB Larry Brown was SB MVP for his two INTs off Steeler QB Neil O'Donnell who threw 3 picks on the day. Here's a link to a video recap of the last time Dallas had a hurrah to celebrate.




As part of the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl this season the NFL has selected a "Golden Team" honoring the best players from the previous 49 SB's. Dallas, who has 8 SB appearances and 5 SB wins placed 6 players on this list. The Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors chose the all time team. Dallas has 6 players who made the team. Emmitt Smith, Randy White, Jay Novecek, Larry Allen, Deion Sanders and Charles Haley. For the entire team check out the link below.




That is quite enough for now.

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The Senior Bowl is this afternoon a 1:30. To me this is the only real football game this weekend. It certainly has the most meaning of the football being played. The Senior Bowl will be played by college seniors who are basically in a live action job interview for the NFL. This means 104 guys will be trying like hell to make a good impression on all the NFL coaches and scouts. The NFL's Pro Bowl will be played by guys who had a nice time in Honolulu and will be trying to not get hurt.

I've posted a lot of stuff on the Cowboys staff writers impressions of the players in Mobile this week so there's nothing left to do but enjoy the second to last meaningful football game for a long time. I will be watching the QBs in this game as well as defensive tackles and cornerbacks. I think I'll be looking at running backs too. All are needs the Cowboys have right now and with all their draft picks early in each round Dallas should be able to capitalize on the lousy season they had this past season to shore up their roster to make a serious push to Super Bowl 51 next season.


Okay, I lied. I have some more info on the Senior Bowl from the guys at DallasCowboys.com. Every one of the articles linked below will point out some players who we can keep an eye on this afternoon.


First, a look at Baylor WR Jay Lee who was limping along with the pack until some advice from former Baylor WR Terrence Williams helped him separate himself from the pack.




Next up is an article about the little brother of Cowboys All Pro guard Zack Martin. Nick Martin, also a Notre Dame grad like his brother, is being coached by Jason Garrett and his staff as a member of the north squad.




Carson Wentz isn't the only QB worth a look apparently. South QB Jacoby Brissett is 6'3" and 231 and he was a 2 year starter at North Carolina State. David Helman wrote a nice article about Brissett so give it a look.




The next article is from Bryan Broaddus with a Scout's Eye look at 10 guys who you may not know right now but could be familiar with by game's end.




This last link is from my favorite writer at DallasCowboys.com. Mickey Spagnola. In his weekly take Mickey talks about what he considers to be the primary thing the Cowboys need to address with that 4th pick in the draft this April.



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Well, I watched the Senior Bowl and to be honest I saw a few good things but basically it was kind of boring. It was about what I expected though and there were some nice plays made. There was also more than one quarterback worth watching. It was kind of disappointing that Lynch and Goff weren't there but it did give some PT to some who wouldn't have even been there if those two were. Here's a recap of the game, or rather the standout players, as seen through the eyes of guys whose living it is to judge such things for DallasCowboys.com and NFL.com.


First up is DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus.



Next is NFL.com's Chase Goodbread NFL.com's College Football 24/7 writer.



Here is Mike Mayock's view of the Senior Bowl on who improved their draft stock this week in this video that also includes thoughts from NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah.





In other Cowboys news the team released a statement indicating DE DeMarcus Lawrence has undergone back surgery. No details about what the surgery was to repair but the Jason Garrett said, "We expect him back fairly soon.", which is about as ambiguous an answer as you can give.



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There's a number of people who want Dallas to use the 4th pick in this year's NFL draft on a quarterback with the early favorite being FCS Champion QB Carson Wentz. Wentz is a keeper by all accounts but you have to remember that Jerry Jones is bound and determined to get Tony Romo a Super Bowl ring. To draft a QB may be good for the Cowboys long term but in a "win now" mentality atmosphere there isn't room to plan too much for a future without Romo when he still hasn't won a ring. There just may be a guy in the 2nd or 3rd round that can be "that guy" but it also may be a year or two too early to worry about a QB-of-the-future.

To help out the Cowboys right now in 2016 it probably means the biggest bang for the buck would be to go with a stud defensive tackle or a stud linebacker. There are several candidates in this year's draft a d-tackle so that leaves linebacker. Every year there is one guy who seems to be a can't miss pick. Luke Keuchly was just such guy when Carolina picked him with the 9th pick in the draft in 2012 and he will be leading a stout Carolina defense into Super Bowl 50 later today.

So, who's the guy who could change the Dallas defense from good to really good or maybe even great? There seems to be Myles Jack out of UCLA or Darron Lee from Ohio State or Leonard Floyd from Georgia. It may be Reggie Ragland from Alabama. There is an outside chance that Dallas could take DE Joey Bosa who graduated from Eastern Kentucky but he also excelled at Ohio State before being suspended for using extacy. He was addicted to the stuff but he seems to have turned his life around and in many circles he is considered the best defensive player in the draft. If Dallas drafts Bosa they will be well stocked at defensive end despite the fact that Dallas likely won't resign Greg Hardy. There still remains a huge hole at linebacker. Dallas won't give Rolando McClain a long term deal because the guy is too much of a wild card to deserve it. Dallas has been building for the future preferring to go for youth over just about anything. Dallas needs a couple of really good defensive tackles and really good linebacker and a cornerback and/or safety. My vote is linebacker and it Myles Jack is all that---I want him in a Cowboys uniform this coming September. We'll see how it goes but the only trouble is we have to wait all the way until April to find out how it WILL go.

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Bryan Broaddus has video series called "Film Room" with his breakdowns of draft prospects. He began his series with a look at Carson Wentz. I know Wentz has been covered to the hilt but Broaddus, being a former scout, is pretty good at identifying what make a player good and pointing out his shortcomings. Here's Carson Wentz.



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Today I continue with the link to Bryan Broaddus' "Film Room" series looking at some of the talent that will be available in this year's draft. Guys who you may want to keep an eye on when the NFL draft combine begins in two weeks in Indianapolis. Yesterday Broaddus began his series with a look at the #1 QB prospect from the Senior Bowl Carson Wentz. Today Broaddus, from DallasCowboys.com, looks at maybe the most dynamic receiver in the draft, former Ohio State QB-turned-WR Braxton Miller.




What should Dallas take away from the Broncos win in Super Bowl 50? Certainly Denver made a radical change in their team from the one that was shellacked by Seattle in Super Bowl 48. The Broncos team went into SB 48 with the #1 offense in the NFL and middle of the road D. Sort of like Carolina although Carolina's defense is better than the Broncos defense was two years ago but you get my point. After being white washed by Seattle Denver Vice President of Football Operations and the Broncos GM, John Elway, went out and spent money in free agency and used draft picks to shore up their defense. Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and TJ Ward being prime examples. They drafted well getting Bradley Robey, Lammin Barrow and Corey Nelson in 2014 and they got 5 of 9 draft picks on defense including LB Shane Ray. This go along with homegrown talent like Vonn Miller, Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson. I took a few years but Elway built a talented and deep defense. This year going into SB 50 the Broncos had the #1 defense in the NFL and their offense was middle of the pack. In fact, they were exactly in the middle. They were the 16th ranked offense out of 32 teams.

The takeaway here? Dallas doesn't need to improve their offense all that much, they need a defense. They began rebuilding their defense under Rod Marinelli in 2014 but they can't quit now. They are weak at defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback and safety. A lot of woes at cornerback can be solved if they can come to terms on a deal with Morris Claiborne and they will need to hang on to Brandon Carr. They have the option of having 2015 1st round draft pick Byron Jones play corner and letting Claiborne walk or they could play him at safety where he did a better than average job as rookie for most of the 2015 season. To me, there are a lot of D-tackles in this draft and almost any one of them would be an improvement over Nick Hayden, Jeremy Mincey and pretty much everybody else. I do like David Irving but that's another rant for another day. So, it comes down to linebacker and safety. Safety is looking okay especially if they stick with Jones at free and Barry Church at strong. For the 4th pick in the draft I'd have to get the player with biggest upside to help the team right now and to me, that's at linebacker. The best linebacker prospect as of right now is UCLA's Myles Jack. He's got the size (6'1"-245 lbs) and he got speed. It is being said that you line Jack up on a wide receiver in the slot and not worry about it. In other words, it would not be a mismatch the way a LB on a WR would normally be. I don't know if that's true but he's a 3-down LB and he would make a formidable combo.

When Dallas was winning SBs in the 90's it wasn't just all about the triplets. Dallas had a top 5 ranked defense in the NFL. From 1992 through 1996 Dallas went to and won 3 Super Bowls, played in another NFC championship game and went to the playoffs. All five years Dallas was ranked no worse than 5th in the NFL in defense. Dallas has been let down time and again during the Romo era by poor defensive play when they needed it most. In 2007 when Dallas went 13-3 the defense went belly up in the playoffs against the Giants. The Giants defense, by contrast, carried the them to a Super Bowl win. In 2008 the D failed to stop the Baltimore Ravens in the final game at the old Texas Stadium. The most heinous offense were TD runs by Willis McGahee of 77 yards and Le'Ron McClain's 82 yard TD run in back-to-back series in the fourth quarter. Dallas had the momentum on offense but the defense sucked. They continued to suck the next week when they were playing for a division championship and a trip to the playoffs. Philly destroyed the D 44-6. In the opening game at the new Cowboys Stadium Dallas lost to the Giants when, after scoring the go ahead points with less than 2 minutes left in the game the defense gave up a drive to the Giants that ultimately cost the Cowboys the game. I could go on and on but I won't. You get the point. There is a reason there is a cliché in football that states "defense wins championships" because it is freaking true. Look at the SB winners of just the last 20 years and it's the team with the best defense and an offense that doesn't turn the ball over that wins more often than not. Nobody gave the Giants a chance in 2009 when they faced the 18-0 Patriots but the defense got it done. That and a luck play or two by Eli. You could argue that the Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" was won by the best offense but the unit on the field that saved the victory for the Rams was the defense.

C'mon Jerry. You and Jason have rebuilt the offensive line, time to concentrate on defense. Do the right thing. If it's a 'win now' mentality in Dallas then QB is not your main objective with the 4th pick in this year's draft. Don't you see? It's got to be defense.

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Today's link to DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus' "Film Room" Series features Louisville's DT Sheldon Rankins.




This article from DallasCowboys.com's David "Tiny Jim" Helman gives us Helman's take on the biggest needs the Cowboys need to address in free agency and the draft.



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Think Jerry Jones is an unemotional robot? Think again. I know a lot of people hate Jones because he fired Jimmy Johnson at the height of the Cowboys success in the 1990's. The fact is both men were responsible for the split. I know this grates on people who revere Johnson and hate Jones but, if you explore the facts, it's true. Nothing could illustrate that more than a comment made by Troy Aikman on the parting of ways of Johnson from the Cowboys from an interview he did when Emmitt Smith was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Aikman said, very candidly, that the team was pissed off at both guys because they refused to do what they asked the players to do and that was sacrifice their ego for the good of the team. The fact is Jimmy was probably more to blame than Jerry for their rift. The problem with Jerry was he tried for ten years to show he didn't need Jimmy to win in Dallas. There was that ego thing again. Now, some of the things Jerry did were in an attempt to win one more Super Bowl for the triplets but shortly after trading away 1st round draft picks in back to back seasons to get WR Joey Galloway it all fell apart. Michael Irvin went down in Philly and his career was over after nearly becoming permanently paralyzed because of spinal stenosis. A condition that ended Irvin's career. Joey Galloway tore his ACL and never played again and Troy Aikman had to retire because of repeated concussions. That was the end of the dynasty of the Nineties. Without any first round draft picks new head coach Dave Campo had a roster full of has-beens and never-would-be's. Three straight 5-11 seasons later Campo was shown the door and a humiliated Jerry Jones finally swallowed his pride and hired Bill Parcells. Parcells lasted 4 years in Dallas. Many believed Parcells wouldn't last a single season as both men have big egos but to everyone's surprise Jones and Parcells became friends and their working relationship was excellent. Jones recognized that he needed a good head coach and he supported Parcells' requests for free agent signings and Parcells had a huge say in the Cowboys drafts. In the end the, at the time 62 year old Parcells, quit after a bitter loss in the playoffs to Seattle mainly on a poor spot on a Jason Witten reception at the goal line and the subsequent fumble of the snap on a potential game winning field goal by Tony Romo was just too much for him to bear and he resigned from the Cowboys a few weeks later. Parcells legacy with the Cowboys is significant as he brought in two Ring of Honor and at least one Hall of Fame player to the Cowboys in Tony Romo and Jason Witten. Wade Phillips succeeded Parcells and he did okay for one season. It appeared Phillips was a good hire but Phillips' history as a head coach in the NFL had been disappointing. One good season followed by decline in subsequent years is what Phillips had done in the past and it is what happened to him in Dallas. After a shellacking by Green Bay in Week 8 of the 2010 season when it appeared the team quit on him he was fired in what was a totally uncharacteristic move by Jones. That should tell you how serious the Cowboys situation was under Phillips. Jones installed Jason Garrett as interim head coach and Garrett took a team that was 1-7 to a closing 5-3 record. Jones hired Garrett as the team's 8th head coach in January of 2011 and he remains head coach at present despite many people who wanted Garrett fired after 3 straight 8-8 seasons. Jones stuck to his guns and has stood behind Garrett through thick and thin. Jones isn't the liability at GM he once was partly because he has learned from past mistakes and partly because his Cowboys heir apparent and oldest son Stephen Jones seems to have a better sense of what needs to be done. The Cowboys also have what is considered an uber judge of talent in player personnel guy Will McClay. It hasn't hurt that Jason Garrett had a vision on how he wanted to build the Cowboys "program" and every single season Garrett has been head coach the talent on the team has gotten appreciably better. Since 2011 Dallas has used 3 first round picks on their O-line and now it is considered one of the best in the NFL. The other two draft picks were both cornerbacks. One, Morris Claiborne, who Dallas traded up from #14 to #6 in the 2012 draft to get has been a bust. Not because he has been a lousy player but because he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Dallas could resign Claiborne this spring if the Cowboys can get him for a more team friendly salary number. The other CB was last year's 1st round pick out of UConn, Byron Jones. Jones has all the earmarks of being a mainstay in the Cowboys secondary for years. The only problem is Dallas doesn't seem to know what the best place to use him because he has been very good at both cornerback and safety. Right now, it looks like he will be a safety but a lot of that depends on the status of the other players at the position, including Claiborne, who have contracts that need to be addressed this spring.

I took the long way around to post a link but I like Jerry. I think he's a good owner. It can and probably should be argued that he's not a great GM but he's gotten better. Almost every player who has played for him loves Jerry because he genuinely cares about the players and people in general. Jerry is obnoxious and he likes the spotlight a little too much for most people's taste but he's a good person. His heart and humanity are a big part of what makes Jerry, Jerry. In the article linked below from the Bleacher Report it talks about Jerry in a different light than maybe anyone has before. There is also a link in the article to an interview done by Joe Buck on his show, "Undeniable" on the Audience Channel. Give this a look and let me know if you don't change your mind about Jerry, even if it's just a little bit.



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Cowboys fans who are hoping Dallas addresses their poor QB depth problem will be interested to know that RGIII has passed his exit physical for the Washington Redskins. This opens the door for his release. Griffin has never really been a favorite of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and because of injury and a rift between him and the Redskins front office and Mike Shanahan, the head coach prior to Gruden Griffin has fallen out of favor in the DC area. Kirk Cousins, who was drafted in the same draft as Griffin in 2012. Griffin was selected with the 2nd pick overall when Washington traded a butt-load of draft picks to move up to take Griffin with the St Louis Rams. Later, in the 4th round the Redskins took Cousins as an insurance policy in case Griffin was hurt. I think this illustrates that a good QB can be had later in the draft if you do your homework. In the last couple of years Griffin has had to eat a big old poop sandwich under the Jay Gruden regime. He was reduced to playing safety on the Redskins scout team during the season last year and he was inactive in every single game being relegated to 3rd string QB behind Cousins and Colt McCoy. It's possible that big dose of humble pie has made Griffin a better player and a better team mate. If Washington does release Griffin many people feel that Dallas is prime location for him to end up. If he does end up in Dallas it would make it less urgent for the Cowboys to use the 4th pick in the draft on a QB.


Free agency may be a way for Dallas to fill a need at running back. Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin is a free agent and could be available if he comes at the right price. Martin has been in the NFL since he was drafted with the 31st pick in the 2012 draft. In 2013 and 2014 big chunks of those seasons were cut short due to injury. Prior to the 2015 season Tampa declined to exercise the 5th year option which is why he is a free agent now. In his rookie season he broke out gaining 1454 yards rushing with another 472 yards receiving while scoring 12 TDs. In 2015 Martin bounced back from his two injury shortened seasons by gaining 1402 yards, good for 2nd overall in the NFL adding another 272 yards receiving. Tampa is leaning towards a pass-first offense behind last year's first overall pick, Jameis Winston. Martin would be a great fit in Dallas as they try to rekindle the run first offense that made them so successful in 2014 with DeMarco Murray. Martin is 27 and has at least 3 more prime years left and the Cowboys best option is currently 28 year old Darren McFadden who will turn 29 before the 2016 season begins. Last season was only second Joseph Randall who lost his job to personal problems on and off the field. McFadden had a nice year but there were yards left on the field IMO. Martin is slightly younger and seems to have a much bigger upside than McFadden.

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The deficiencies on the defense are pretty clear. The need to sign their own free agents like Mo Claiborne and Rolando McClain. The need to get over Brandon Carr's $9.1MM salary for 2016. If these things don't happen Dallas will be in even bigger trouble than ever. The word is the Greg Hardy experiment is over. For the money the Cowboys paid him they didn't get their money's worth especially considering the PR nightmare they had to endure. Now, with the suspension of Randy Gregory the spotlight on defense gets down right gets pretty intense.

I was hoping that Dallas would take LB Myles Jack but there are a lot of clouds hanging over him. His injury, a torn meniscus, is a serious one and there is no guarantee he can make a significant contribution this coming season. He won't be healthy enough to do anything at the Scouting Combine this coming week. The Cowboys need to sign Rolando McClain but they can't give him a long term deal because of his own drug and personal issues. He's a guy who is one more failed drug test away from being suspended for a full year. There is nothing that gives you any confidence that he won't screw up tomorrow. Dallas will have to give him a one year deal with incentives. From a business perspective they can't do anything else. Dallas may need to target Joey Bosa, the defensive end from Ohio State. He is supposed to be the best player in the draft. Maybe, maybe not. He may be the best option for Dallas in the draft. Let's take a look and see if Dallas even has a shot at Bosa.

With the first pick Tennessee, according to NFL.com, is likely to take an offensive tackle. The Titans certainly do need to upgrade their O-line to protect their No 1 pick from last year, Marcus Mariota. Failure to protect Mariota last season cost the Titans their starting QB significant time because of different injuries. The No 2 pick goes to Cleveland and they will be taking a QB, no doubt about it, because they are done with Johnny Manziel and I can't say I blame they. Carson Wentz or Jared Goff will likely be a Brown next season. With the 3rd pick is San Diego and again, according to NFL.com, they need help along the defensive line. Joey Bosa is likely to be gone.

What kind of crap for luck is Dallas riding. There isn't a sure fire, can't miss, QB worth using the 4th pick on. The best LB in the draft class is coming off a career threatening injury and the best defensive player in the draft is going one pick before the Cowboys can grab him. Even when you get to draft a franchise impacting player they just aren't available. Dammit!!! It may make the most sense to trade down and get some extra draft picks. Stock up with quantity as long as they are quality. I have trust in their player evaluation which is saying something because at one time I wouldn't have. Remember the 2009 draft? Dallas had 12 picks and not one was worth a darn and not one is still in the NFL.

It's a different group in the Cowboys player personnel department and you never know what will happen in the free agency period. Damn being a fan is hard.

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Here's a name you may not have heard before, DeForest Buckner. This kid is a defensive lineman out of Oregon who Mike Mayock deemed potentially franchise changing in his ability. He has been projected as a top 10 talent in many mocks and looks like a guy I'd would not moan and groan over if the Cowboys draft him at #4. As a physical specimen he's 6'8" and 295 lbs and, as Mayock described him, has a Reggie White hump move that's friggin awesome. Mayock says Buckner can play anywhere up and down the D-line so what's to say he can't play right defensive end and move DeMarcus Lawrence, who came on strong in the last half of last season, to left end? Or keep him at tackle where the Cowboys need help desperately? I'll tell you, if this guy is THAT good he has a home in Dallas as far as I'm concerned.


The Scouting Combine begins this week. On Wednesday to be exact. The NFL Channel will be covering the combine beginning Wednesday with press conferences beginning at 11 am. Thursday continues with more press conferences. The on-field work will begin coverage on Friday.

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The Cowboys have replaced a coach who departed for a different job and slightly restructured their staff's duties and they have created a position on the defensive side of the ball titled Passing Game Coordinator. LB coach Matt Eberflus has added this title to his resume. His job will be to tie together the linebackers and DB's to make a more cohesive pass defense. There were at least two games, New Orleans and Buffalo, where there were major breakdowns between the back seven in coverage that led to loses late in games. Maybe this will help iron out some of those problems.


Stephen Jones met with reporters today at the NFL Scouting Combine and he addressed several issues including whether or not Dallas will be players in free agency. Jones said the Cowboys don't like to depend on free agency too much because after all is said and done good players end up getting paid like great players and average players end up getting paid like good players. Jones said the ideal way to build a team is through the draft and they don't like to overpay for free agents. You could point out that Dallas did just that last year at this time when they signed problem child Greg Hardy because they were desperate to upgrade their pass rush. With the Rams releasing MIKE LB James Lauranaitis this week as part of salary cap reduction moves because the Rams will have to save some money as they relocate to Los Angeles. Seriously, that's not likely the reason they released 3 players who counted roughly 30% of their team salary. Lauranaitis would be a nice addition though because current MIKE LB Rolando McClain is a free agent too but Dallas would be stupid to give a guy like him a long term deal considering he's one failed drug test away from a year's suspension. Launanaitis is a solid citizen that has just had an issue or two with injury but not substance abuse. He is also only 28 years old which means a 5 year deal would not be a reach.


Remember Joseph Randle? You know, the RB that was supposed to assume the lead back role last season? Dallas cut ties with him by Week 4 when he refused to reenter a game. He had already had problems. He was arrested in 2014 when he shoplifted some items from a Dallas area store. He got in more trouble last year when he had an incident involving is baby's mother and their child in a parking lot in Kansas City involving a gun. Now, according to Bleacher Report Randle is unable to pay for a lawyer or bail after yet another run in with the law. In his 3 year pro football career Randle earned $1.3MM dollars. He has been arrested on 3 counts of battery and possession of drugs. Randle had the chance to be the #1 back in Dallas and he could have written his ticket in the Metroplex if he had been successful but he has thrown it all away. It's kind of sad to see someone flush his future down the toilet like this.


So, Tony Romo has been rumored to have another surgery on his pesky collar bone. The story I heard is that Romo's collar bone may need a plate installed to help support it better so he will have less of a chance of another break. That story is false by all accounts, Romo doesn't need a plate installed. What he has been waiting for is his collar bone to completely heal. When that happens he will go under the knife again but this time the doctor will need to grind some of the healed bone. The reason for that is because the break was close to the shoulder joint and when a broken bone heals he is actually bigger at the break location and also the bone is much stronger than before. Because it is near the shoulder joint the new size of the bone won't allow the joint to give like it is supposed to which, if nothing is done, could result in another break in a new location or shoulder problem. Either way Romo will be sidelined yet again which, as we saw last season, is not a good thing for the Cowboys at all. Romo is scheduled to have x-rays on his collar bone after the scouting combine. The bone has to be completely healed before the doctors shave on it to fit the socket correctly or they will do more damage than good. The good thing is once it's done Romo will be ready to go when OTA's begin in May, if not then, but certainly by training camp in July. The hope is, like Mike and Mike say, he will be back and better than ever.

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There is a website called fanspeak.com that allows you to be the GM of any team you choose and complete a mock draft of your own. I have posted a link to the site below that will take you to their On the Clock page where you can choose from a menu of draft ranking sites that include CBSSports.com, Walter Football, Fanspeak's own player ranking board as well as others. You decide how many rounds your mock will cover and then you can get started. They have a premium upgrade that allows you to trade up or down in a round and other features but I haven't done that. I have done a mock for the Cowboys pre-combine and I did a mock for the Texans. Dallas has a total of 9 draft picks. They have a pick in rounds 1-4 and a pick in round 6. They also have a compensatory pick in round 4 (No 38 pick in the round and No 137 overall) and they have 3 in the 6th (No 34/212, 38/216 and 39/217 in the round/overall).




Here is the results from my mock draft. I went heavy on defense taking 6 of the Cowboys 9 picks on that side of the ball. You are welcome to rip my draft or post your own. This one is my pre combine mock and I figure to post on a week until the draft. It's an opportunity to have some fun ripping my mock or posting your own and letting us rip yours or, heaven forbid, compliment the draft! Lots of opportunities for discussion here. I will post my Texans mock on the off season thread I have going for them.


4: R1P4




34: R2P3




67: R3P4




102: R4P3




137: R4P38




192: R6P14




212: R6P34




216: R6P38




217: R6P39



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Yesterday, all 32 NFL teams announced their unused salary carryover amounts to the 2016 season. These carryovers are not a standardized amount but rather an amount determined by teams from the unspent portions of their 2015 salary caps.


Under the current CBA, Clubs have minimum cash spending requirements. For the years 2013-2016, Clubs are required to spend an average of 89% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period. League-wide, Clubs must spend an average of 95% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period. - excerpt from an article in The Bleacher Report.


That's a little confusing but I take that to mean individual teams must spend 89% of their cap money but the whole NFL is required to spend 95% of their cap money. This actually means the union wanted a guarantee that their players would be paid and owners could low ball their salary cap and pocket the rest. This is an effort for players to get paid which they deserve considering the beating they take in their sport.


At any rate the teams can carry over any unused portion of the salary cap to the next season but they are not required to carry over all of that shortfall. In fact, The Broncos, Rams and Saints did not carry over all they were eligible to carry over. The smallest carryover was by the Seahawks which was $11,587.00 while the biggest carry over was $32,774,928 by the Jaguars. This carry over increases the posted salary cap for the next season by the amount carried over. Say, for example, the salary cap was $100MM, that plus the carry over would mean Jax would have $132MM to spend. To think that this would enable the Jags to jump into free agency with both feet is an understatement because, at some point, they will HAVE to spend at least 89% of that amount for face sanctions by the union for violations of the collective bargaining agreement.


As for the Cowboys, they will carry over $3,571,239. Another good thing about the Cowboys salary cap is this will be the first year since 2006 Miles Austin hasn't figured into the Cowboys salary cap. This despite Austin not being a member of the Cowboys since 2013. The Cowboys still had dead money associated with Austin's 2010 contract extension that was a 6-year $57MM deal that Dallas continued to pay for through last season. For the first time is God knows how long the Cowboys are not in salary cap hell. They still have dead money on the books but so do all NFL teams when you consider contracts signed with players who are signed to replace and injured player or be on the practice squad or what have you. The Cowboys total dead money pool comes to just under $1MM which is nothing in the grand scheme of things.


Can Dallas be players in free agency? You bet but, as Stephen Jones said earlier this week, the Cowboys don't like free agency because you invariably over pay for players. But, a guy like LB James Laurinaitis could be a long term solution at middle LB and a much less risky move than depending on Rolando McClain who is definitely a risky player to depend upon. The question being about Laurinaitis is his health. If that isn't an issue I can't see why Dallas wouldn't prefer him over McClain.


That gives me an idea......more on that later.

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Jerry Jones likes to take advantage of value when it's available. He took Dez Bryant when he dropped down to the mid twenties after he was suspended in his last year of college because he lied about meeting with Deion Sanders. He took advantage of Sean Lee recovering from an ACL injury he suffered at Penn State and he was able to get him in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft. As recently as last year Jerry saw an opportunity to take a chance on Randy Gregory when he fell into the 2nd round after testing positive for banned substances at last year's NFL Scouting Combine. Jerry also hit the jackpot on getting La'el Collins as an undrafted free agent when he was associated with a murder investigation of a female friend. The incident scared off every si ngle NFL team, including Dallas, from even drafting him. Collins was just someone who was interviewed in the case and he was cleared of any wrong-doing but it was too late to help him in the draft. But, there was Jerry, the old salesman, who wooed Collins into signing with Dallas giving the Cowboys 3 players who were considered first round talent in last year's draft. The third guy was CB Byron Jones who is looking like a real keeper. Collins too has shown himself to be a good player. The jury is still out on Gregory and he hasn't done himself any favors by getting himself suspended the first 4 games of the coming season for failing drug tests. I don't thing anyone questions his talent or ability to play at a high level in the NFL but he needs to prioritize was is important to him because if smoking weed is the most important thing in his life he won't last long in Dallas or the NFL. The whole point here is this, there is a player who is right up Jones' alley and that is Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith. Smith was considered a top ten talent heading toward the 2016 draft. That is until he blew up his knee in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1st. Smith tore his ACL and MCL and suffered nerve damage in both his ankle and knee. The thinking is he won't be able to play football until 2017. Am I right? Isn't this prime Jerry Jones territory? I could easily see the Cowboys taking a flyer on Smith especially if he should drop into the 3rd or 4th round of the draft. There is another player who could drop as well. Myles Jack out of UCLA. He's also coming off a serious knee injury, a torn meniscus, and the thinking is he could fall like a rock in the draft because of uncertainty of his health. He is not doing much at all at the combine but I would imagine he will try to do something at his UCLA pro day. With this knowledge in hand Dallas could resign Rolando McClain to a one year deal as a buffer to allow one (or both, I'm greedy) players a year to get completely well. That would allow Dallas to take a Joey Bosa or a DeForest Buckner with the #4 pick and grab a QB in the second round. If the opportunity exists, take Jack in the 2nd and if at all possible take Smith in the third. It would be the 2nd year in a row Dallas would get 3 first round ranked players in the draft. Yes, I know. The likelihood of this happening is slim to none but you can dream can't you?
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The combine is over and they stories are pretty much confirmed about what people suspected going in. No major surprises as there weren't any guys who just blew people away the way Byron Jones did last year when he set world record for the broad jump and he had a an unreal vertical jump. It was this combine workout and contributed to the Cowboys deciding to take Jones in the 1st round last year. I would submit these few players that Dallas could certainly use.

1. Darron Lee (LB - Ohio State) - This guy is listed as a linebacker but he's got the speed and agility to play safety. He clocked a 4.47 40, a 35-1/2" vertical and an 11 foot broad jump and he displayed a lot of athleticism and agility. He is 6'1" and 232 lbs. With his skill set and measurables he reminds me of another hybrib linebacker from Arizona State and Cowboys Ring of Honor player, Darren Woodson. Dallas drafted Woodson in the 1992 draft and he spent 11 years anchoring the Cowboys secondary. Lee won't be the 4th pick in the draft but he is someone Dallas should really consider if he falls to the 2nd round considering the Cowboys have had a bitch of a time replacing Woody since he retired in 2004.

2. Robert Nkemdiche (DT - Mississippi State) - Size, speed, power, this guy seems to have it all. Again, like Lee, he likely won't fall into the second round unless his off field issue with an incident at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead where he fell out of a 4th floor window in his room. Authorities found 7 marijuana cigarettes in his room after the incident and he was charged with possession. Nkemdiche was found conscious and stable when police arrived on the scene and he treated and released at a local hospital. It is speculated the incident, which happened on December 12, 2015, is likely to cause his draft stock to fall.

3. Kamalei Correa (LB - Boise State) - Dallas has a history in the last few years of selecting players from Boise State. Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence have all been drafted by Dallas in recent years and all have played a vital role for the Cowboys. Orlando Scandrick was the Cowboys best CB going into last year until he tore his ACL in training camp. Crawford was limited last year by a rotator cuff injury he suffered in Week 2 against Philly. He also lost a year in 2013 when he tore his Achilles tendon on the first day of training camp. When healthy Crawford is expected to make big difference at the 3 technique for the Cowboys. Lawrence hurt his foot in training camp of his rookie year in 2014 and it took him a while to get going which limited his production at left defensive end that season. In 2015 after Dallas signed Greg Hardy and drafted Randy Gregory Lawrence was moved to right defensive end and in the last half of last season a light seemed to on for Lawrence and he ended up being the team leader in sacks with 8 sacks. Correa is a player who could come in a help the defense at linebacker right away.

4. Will Fuller (WR - Notre Dame) - The guy is fast, 4.3-40 fast, but he came into the combine with questions about how good his hands were. At the combine he showed he can catch the ball. Dallas needs a guy who can take the top off the defense. I'm sorry but Devon Street, Brice Butler and Rod Smith are not the answer. The problem is, will Fuller last into the 2nd round? Probably not. In a perfect world Dallas would have all 9 of their draft picks in the 1st and 2nd rounds. This is not a perfect world and Dallas will have some hard decisions to make in the second round. Ideally, Dallas would trade down and get an extra 2nd and possibly a 3rd rounder so somebody who wants a QB can move up. Damn, this GM thing is harder than it looks!

5. Dak Prescott - (QB - Mississippi State) - After the big three of Goff, Wentz and Lynch Prescott is the next man up and he didn't anything but help himself at the combine. He seems to have excellent leadership skills and talent enough to play well at the next level. If he's available in the 2nd round Dallas could much worse by drafting him. Especially if Dallas does trade down and get an extra 2nd rounder. It would be sweet to pick up an impact defensive player AND your future QB in the same round.

6. Kenyon Drake - (RB - Alabama) - Drake has been living in the shadow of Derrick Henry but he showed some scouts that he's a player at the combine. He showed speed (4.4-40 time), he showed athleticism, power and agility in the positional drills and he showed the ability to be an effective receiver. At 6'1" and 210 lbs he's not just a 3rd down back. You have to hope some of these players fall into the 3rd or 4th rounds so Dallas has a chance to get them. With Drake the 3rd round is remotely possible but not likely.


The biggest loser at the combine is Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith because according to NFL.com several scouts familiar with his physical results say his knee that he hurt (torn ACL and MCL) in the Fiesta Bowl this year is "bad". Meaning that knee is really effed up and reports of his not being available until 2017 appear to be accurate. If he knee is really messed up it could actually mean it's career threatening. That said, this could be a good thing for Dallas if they do well in the first 2-3 rounds AND Smith falls to the 4th it would be a prime time to take him. If he was healthy he would be in the conversation as the best player in this year's draft but as it stands his prognosis for 2016 isn't good.


Good news! The Cowboys are finally is a reasonably good position salary cap wise going into free agency and the draft. The Cowboys have around $14MM in free cap money available and they could get that figure higher if they decide to restructure a contract or two. It's the best shape they have been in a long time which means that if there is a free agent they see could help them they have funds to get into the conversation of signing one or two guys without screwing them up.


Just to throw a monkey in the wrench, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said that Carson Wentz is the best QB in this draft and an upside equivalent to Andrew Luck when he came out of Stanford. Mayock continued be saying Wentz isn't ready from Day 1 to play in the NFL but his ceiling is akin to Luck's. Mayock points out that Wentz is as tall as Luck, as fast if not faster than luck, arm strength is equal to Luck, Wentz is more athletic than Luck. In fact, the only downside to Wentz is that he played at an FCS school and hasn't seen the level of competition that Luck did at Stanford. You can point out that Wentz excelled at the FCS level winning back to back FCS National Championships. Again, this GM thing is really, really harder than it looks.

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