Friday, March 16, 2012
Cowboys upgrade talent base
By Calvin Watkins
We're not sure what the Dallas Cowboys are going to do when the draft comes around in late April, but we've seen positive things in the first three days of free agency.
It started with cornerback Brandon Carr and his five-year $50.1 million deal. Carr is an upgrade over Terence Newman, who struggled the last two months of the season.
Carr can play man-to-man, and the Cowboys believe he can make plays on the ball, something that was missing in the Cowboys' secondary last year.
You can say the Cowboys overpaid for Carr, but his contract is what the market pays.
An undervalued position is fullback and the team got the better player in signing Lawrence Vickers from the Houston Texans. There was much praise for Tony Fiammetta's work in 2011. But a hamstring and later an inner ear infection cost him games. The Cowboys want players who play, not players who sit in the trainers' room.
Vickers is a physical presence who the team will use 10-to-14 snaps a game. If DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones loved how Fiammetta blocked, wait until they see Vickers.
Jon Kitna was past his prime and his back issues forced him to retire. Stephen McGee just isn't a No. 2 quarterback in this league. So the Cowboys did the right thing by signing Kyle Orton, a player the team laid a claim on last season.
Orton has been a starter in the NFL, and Garrett said he's confident he can win games with him if Tony Romo gets injured.
Another solid pickup was inside linebacker Dan Connor. He replaces aging veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James to back up Sean Lee. He's not going to start, Bruce Carter is the future, but one thing Garrett likes to have on his team is competition. If Connor challenges Carter for a starting job, then so be it.
The Cowboys also gained younger and more experienced players along the offensive line in signing Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Depth along the offensive line is improved.
So all that's left in the draft is to find the best player available.
The Cowboys, despite signing Brodney Pool, could draft a safety and maybe a wide receiver in the first two days of the draft.
Things are looking up at Valley Ranch as the offseason moves get under way.