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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Cowboys NFL scouting combine primer

By Calvin Watkins

The annual NFL scouting combine starts today and Cowboys officials arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Here's a primer on what might or should happen for the Dallas Cowboys the next few days.

The Cowboys will talk to a quarterback: Last year the Cowboys spoke with then-Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. It didn't mean the Cowboys were going to draft him, Newton went No. 1 overall, but it was more about the team doing their due diligence. This year don't be surprised to see the Cowboys speak with Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck, considered the top quarterbacks in the draft. The Cowboys still believe in Tony Romo, yet have to think about the future. Cowboys could draft a quarterback in the later rounds and speaking to Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State is a possibility. Cowboys officials believe Weeden is a good fit, bur are concerned about his age, turns 29 in October.

Taking on the free agents: The biggest free agents the Cowboys must address from their own roster are Anthony Spencer, Mat McBriar, Abram Elam and Laurent Robinson. The Cowboys could franchise Spencer, which costs a projected $8.8 million, but nothing has been decided. Spencer's agent, Roosevelt Barnes doesn't have any meetings scheduled with the Cowboys. Robinson developed into a talented and reliable receiver. But Wes Welker, Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson and Marques Colston will command more money and attention from teams. Elam doesn't have an agent and it's uncertain if the Cowboys will bring him back. McBriar is expected to recover from leg surgery and the team most likely will give him a new contract.

What's up with the salary cap? Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones praised his son, team executive vice president Stephen Jones, with taking care of the finances in terms of releasing several veterans, restructuring contracts to clear up $12.5 million. That number could increase to as much as $20 million with more veteran departures such as Terence Newman, Kenyon Coleman and Kyle Kosier. Cowboys might talk to the agents of several players asking to restructure deals to clear up space on the cap.

Who the Cowboys target at No. 14: Everybody. The Cowboys will begin the process of meeting players individually in Indy, schedule more meetings at Valley Ranch and of course prepare to visit Pro Days. If the Cowboys visit Stanford for the its Pro Day, it doesn't mean they want Luck. Guard David DeCastro is projected as the best interior linemen in the draft. If Jason Garrett visits Stanford's Pro Day, it could mean DeCastro is targeted. Garrett went to one Pro Day last spring, Tyron Smith's at USC.

Here's five other players the Cowboys might pick with the 14th overall pick: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, OLB; Mark Barron, Alabama, S; Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, DE; Dontari Poe, Memphis, NT; Cordy Glenn, Georgia, G.