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Monday, February 28, 2011
Random thoughts from the Combine

By Calvin Watkins

INDIANAPOLIS -- We're leaving the national scouting combine and getting ready for a possible lockout. Here's some random thoughts from the weekend in Indy.

1. The discussions surrounding the Cowboys taking Cam Newton at No. 9 is just speculation. Yes Jerry Jones said he wouldn't mind taking Newton at No. 9, but then another team official said they like Alabama running back Mark Ingram as well. The sure bet here is the Cowboys draft a defensive player. This is a strong draft for outside linebackers/defensive ends. J.J. Watt from Wisconsin smiled when I asked him did he talk with Dallas. Watt would play end in a 3-4 scheme and seems like a perfect match if he's around. Of course the secondary has some issues and LSU's Patrick Peterson is the top corner, but he's a Top 5 pick. So the Cowboys have to settle on Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. Little concerned he didn't have any interceptions his senior season. But Amukamara is a strong tackler which is something new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants in his corners.
"That's something Nebraska touched on a lot," Amukamara said. "Good tackling technique and just wrapping up."

2. One of the best things we heard from the weekend came from coach Jason Garrett. He's not one to give you these headline-type quotes, which is fine. But Ryan will give you good quotes and brings a swagger to a defense that is coming off a bad season overall.
"I think anytime you’re around people who have confidence that’s a good thing," Garrett said of Ryan. "You want confident people. You want people to believe in themselves. You want people to believe in what they do, believe in each other, believe in the program and the organization and those are good things."

3. When you're coming off a 6-10 season you should expect changes. There are about five players who were part of the 2010 season that might be gone. One of those players is right tackle Marc Colombo. He's due a $2.6 million option bonus and the Cowboys have 15 days at the start of the league year to give it to him. The league year hasn't been established yet. He's also scheduled to pick up a $500,000 roster bonus if he's on the 45-man roster in 2011. His base salary is $1.9 million. That's more than $3 million for a tackle who is coming off a difficult 2010 season. Now the Cowboys have to find a tackle. It's quite possible they draft a left tackle and move Doug Free back to the right side. Some of the best tackles in the draft are projected to go in the lower half of the first round. One player of interest for the Cowboys is Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo, who is 6-7, 311 pounds. He allowed just two sacks last season. Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin said he's the best tackle in the draft, but Castonzo had a nice comment when asked about it.
"That's his opinion," Castonzo said. "It's what we've put on film. I'm not going to stand up here and say I'm better than him or he's better than me.It's for the scouts to decide based on what we've put on film. This is just kind of the capper here at the combine."