Dallas Cowboys: 2010 Combine

Cowboys looking for everything but QB

February, 28, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jerry Jones sees the Dallas Cowboys' draft priorities as pretty wide open.

They'll pretty much take the best available player regardless of position ... with one exception.

"I’m looking at everything but quarterback," Jones said. "There's not a position we wouldn’t take with that first pick other than quarterback."

Jones said the only way the Cowboys would draft a quarterback was if they thought their was a great value pick in the late rounds.

That's an indication of the Cowboys' confidence in Tony Romo and backup Jon Kitna. The Cowboys haven't seen enough of 2009 fourth-round pick Stephen McGee to know whether he'll be a significant part of the future, but they plan to find out over the next six months.

The Cowboys have three good running backs -- and plan to keep Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice -- but Jones said he learned the hard way the last two seasons that a team can't have too many good running backs.

Cowboys considering cutting Adams

February, 28, 2010
[+] EnlargeFlozell Adams
Scott Boehm/Getty Images Flozell Adams has spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the Cowboys.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys have a difficult decision to make regarding left tackle Flozell Adams.

Jerry Jones acknowledged as much while chatting with a handful of reporters Sunday on his luxury bus outside Lucas Oil Stadium. He vowed that the Cowboys would make significant personnel changes and cited offensive line as a focal point.

Adams, who turns 35 in May, is entering the third season of a six-year, $43.8 million deal. However, Jones said finances would not be considered when determining whether to cut the Cowboys' longest-tenured active player.

The Cowboys essentially must decide whether they'd be better off with Doug Free starting at left tackle instead of a five-time Pro Bowler whose skills have declined the last couple of seasons. The Cowboys could also use an early pick on a tackle, even if they decide to keep Adams.

"If we could have a season like that out of him this year, it would be great," Jones said after pausing for several seconds when asked for his thoughts on Adams. "I was very pleased with his season. Certainly that’s the question mark. That’s when you have decision to make right there – can you get another year like that out of him?"

Texas' Thomas tips scales at 208

February, 28, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Texas' Earl Thomas grew up dreaming of playing for the Dallas Cowboys, but that isn't likely to happen soon.

Thomas, a safety who set a school record with eight interceptions last season, was measured at 5-10 1/2, 208 pounds. He's gained about 10 pounds since the end of the season, which should ease concerns about his ability to handle the physical nature of the NFL.

"The extra weight helps," Thomas said. "If I'm going to be in the box banging heads, it definitely helps."

Thomas, who will go through all the drills at the combine, is expected to run in the 4.4s. If that happens, it's unlikely he'll get out of the teens, much less be available at No. 27 overall.

USC's Mays: I can make plays

February, 28, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – USC safety Taylor Mays, who has a rare blend of size and speed, was projected as a top-five pick entering his senior season. It’s now a possibility that he could be available with the Cowboys go on the clock at No. 27.

For a defense determined to get more playmaking from its safeties, Mays doesn’t seem to be a good fit despite his freakish physical skills. The 6-3, 230-pound Mays, who is expected to run in the 4.4s, only made six interceptions in four seasons as the Trojans’ starting free safety.

“I’m going to have to be more aware of when the ball is in the air,” Mays said. “Turnovers are a big deal. It’s not something I can’t do. I know I can do it. It’s just an element I’ll have to add to my game.”

That’s a tough element to add in the NFL.

The other concern with Mays, who might end up playing linebacker, is that he’s vulnerable in coverage despite his great speed. He’s been compared to ex-Cowboy Roy Williams because he’s a big hitter with tight hips.

By cutting Williams, the Cowboys shifted the emphasis with their safeties to coverage ability. Dallas learned the hard way that modern-day NFL offenses can expose safeties by getting creative with pass-catching tight ends or multi-receiver formation.

Coach Wade Phillips has had success with a smash-mouth, big-bodied safety before. Eight-time Pro Bowler Steve Atwater (6-3, 220) started in Phillips’ scheme as a rookie for the Denver Broncos.

But the league has changed since then. How well Mays fits is up for debate, perhaps while the Cowboys are on the clock.

Texas' Kindle could have been NFL RB

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, who is projected as a first-round pick, gets compared to pass rushers such as ex-teammate Brian Orakpo.

Kindle easily could have been compared to bruising New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs.

The 6-3, 250-pound Kindle was too humble to answer affirmatively when a reporter asked whether he could have played running back in the NFL. As someone who watched him play several times at Woodrow Wilson High, I have little doubt Kindle had that type of potential as a tailback.

This is a guy who was arguably the best running back in Dallas ISD history despite playing every down on defense. He rushed for more than 7,000 yards and 100 touchdowns during his high school career.

Mack Brown and Co. recruited Kindle as a linebacker, but there was some talk of him also playing a little offense. Kindle's father, Johnny Walker, lobbied for his son to get short-yardage carries until his eligibility expired.

"Them being the coaches and me being a player, I’m going to listen," Kindle said. "I could have [gone] either way. But I’ll tell you this, it’s a lot better to give a lick than take one."

I'll tell you this: Kindle delivered a lot of licks even when he had the ball tucked under his arm.

TCU's Hughes prepared for another move

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jerry Hughes made a dramatic position change after arriving at TCU, moving from running back to defensive end. He doesn’t anticipate any problem if he’s asked to make another position change in the NFL.

“Wherever they ask me to play, I’ll be more than happy to play,” Hughes said when asked about the possibility of becoming a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Hughes, who stands a fraction under 6-2 and weighs 255 pounds, resembles a pair of stocky, speedy pass-rushers who have been dominant in 3-4 schemes. He certainly doesn’t mind the comparisons to Pittsburgh’s James Harrison and Denver’s Elvis Dumervil, but his favorite player is Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney, who has racked up 84 sacks in eight seasons as a defensive end in the Colts’ 4-3 scheme.

Hughes, who added 55 pounds during his TCU career, said he’s comfortable playing in space. However, he understands that the reason he could go as early as the second round is because of his ability to blow by offensive tackles.

Does Campbell's 40 time matter much?

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Maryland's Bruce Campbell, the 6-6, 314-pound left tackle with a Zeus-like physique, continues to be the buzz of the combine.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus believes Campbell's 40 time, which was officially clocked at 4.85, vaults him into the top 10 in the draft.

There's no doubt that Campbell is an amazing athlete, but how often do offensive linemen actually run 40 yards? Folks raved about Doug Free's downfield block on Felix Jones' touchdown run against the Eagles because it was so rare to see a tackle in that territory.

FootballOutsiders.com compiled a list of offensive tackles who ran sub-5.0 40s at the combine. It's a mixed bag. Maybe Campbell could develop into another Joe Thomas, but Allen Barbre's 4.84 40 hasn't helped him succeed in the NFL.

OU's Bradford won't boycott Redskins

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Perhaps the most awkward moment of the NFL scouting combine occurred during Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford's session with reporters.

Bradford, who is one-sixteenth Cherokee, was asked for his thoughts about the Washington Redskins' nickname, which is considered offensive by Native American activists. Bradford side-stepped the issue, saying he would deal with it if necessary.

The follow-up question: Would Bradford ask the Redskins, who have the fourth overall pick, to not draft him because of the nickname.

"Um ... no," Bradford said, appearing befuddled.

Bradford is much more concerned about preparing for his March 25 pro day. He won't work out at the combine, but he says his shoulder feels great after undergoing surgery in the fall. He's throwing every other day now, putting zip on passes between 20 and 40 yards.

Wade: Competition brings accountability

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – Wade Phillips will always take a share of the blame when a player doesn't produce.

However, he acknowledges that there's a fine line on that issue. How can a coach accept blame and still make sure the player has accountability?

"Competition does a lot of that, and then you have to know your players," Phillips said. "There are certain guys it doesn't matter if you have somebody competing against them or not, they are going to play harder or do better. Then there are some guys the coach is going to have to point out more things to them."

We saw how competition brought out the best in Pro Bowl cornerback Mike Jenkins. It's time to see if the same is true for some established veterans on the roster.

Ceiling is high for Anthony Spencer

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – Wade Phillips has a high standard for outside linebackers.

He coached Rickey Jackson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, with the New Orleans Saints. Phillips is coaching DeMarcus Ware, who is well on his way to Canton.

Phillips firmly believes Anthony Spencer has that kind of potential.

"Oh yeah, there’s no doubt about it," Phillips said. "He's a dominant player."

For Spencer to be considered in that class, he simply has to continue performing like he did down the stretch last season, when he had eight sacks in the final eight games including playoffs.

"Spencer was one of the best players in the league last year at the end of the year," Phillips said.

Phillips: Cowboys can't be complacent

February, 27, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago at the scouting combine, Wade Phillips wouldn’t talk to the media, following Jerry Jones’ gag order. He was more than accommodating upon arriving in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon, chatting with Valley Ranch regulars for about a half hour in the hotel lobby.

A relaxed Phillips expressed pride in what the Cowboys accomplished last season, when they won the NFC East and ended a playoff win drought that dated to 1996. However, he made it clear that the Cowboys can’t afford to have a sense of satisfaction.

“We’ve got to have the same determination, but we’ve got to be determined to go further,” Phillips said. “We’re not satisfied with where we are. We did good, but we didn’t do great. That’s what we strive for. I think we’re always looking for that. We’ve got to make some changes.”

Phillips acknowledged that the changes wouldn’t be as dramatic as last offseason, when the Cowboys did a locker room cleansing and the coaches took significant steps to demand more accountability. But Phillips said the changes could impact several areas, including personnel and coaching techniques.

The Cowboys only enter next season with momentum if they don’t let complacency seep in, which was a problem after their 13-3 campaign in 2007.

“That’s got to be the theme of our players and our staff and everybody,” Phillips said. “We were still disappointed after that last game.”

LT Campbell gets extra exam attention

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Maryland's Bruce Campbell looks more like a power forward than a left tackle.

How many 314-pound dudes have washboard abs? This is one of them. No wonder a veteran personnel man described Campbell's body as the best he's ever seen after Thursday's weigh-in at the scouting combine.

"It's genetics," Campbell said, shrugging the massive shoulders that are connected to 36 1/4-inch arms.

But the medical examinations later in the day might not have helped the probable first-rounder's draft stock.

Doctors had Campbell, a possibility for the Cowboys at No. 27 overall, undergo a series of tests after learning that he underwent an non-football-related operation in high school on the area where his spine meets the base of his skull.

"After listening to the doctors talk yesterday, it’s really over my head," Campbell said Friday. "I don’t know how to explain it more."

There were already some concerns about Campbell's durability after he missed three games last season due to a knee injury and turf toe.

Cowboys want Buehler to win FG job

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys didn't trust David Buehler enough to let him kick field goals after Nick Folk faltered last season.

They hope Buehler earns their trust during training camp and the preseason.

Buehler didn't work much on placekicking last season, but he's been told to focus on field goals during the offseason. The Cowboys signed Conor Hughes to give Buehler some competition, but the best-case scenario would be for the elite kickoff specialist to expand his role.

"That would be a two-for-one deal for us," coach Wade Phillips said.

Ex-Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol was hired as a consultant to help Buehler improve to the point where the Cowboys would be comfortable relying on him to kick field goals. Phillips is optimistic that Buehler can make the necessary improvement because of the strong-legged kicker's determination.

"He’s obviously got the leg," Phillips said. "He hit some long ones in practice, because we only basically practiced him on the long ones. He hit a fair percentage of those, not where we want to be, but I think he can get there."

Boniol, who was interviewed by special teams coach Joe DeCamillis as well as Phillips and management, will work for the Cowboys on a part-time basis at least through training camp.

"Sometimes it’s the little things that maybe we don’t know or we didn’t teach him," Phillips said. "We’re hoping Boniol can help him in that area, and there’s a mental aspect too that Boniol has been through."

Bryant still considers Deion his mentor

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS – Dez Bryant’s career at Oklahoma State ended prematurely after he lied to NCAA investigators about his relationship with Deion Sanders.

That did not end Bryant’s relationship with the all-time great cornerback.

“Deion is my mentor,” Bryant said at the NFL combine. “He never talked to me about football, it was more of my personal life, just seeing if my mom was OK, seeing if my brother was OK, seeing if my sister was OK.

“He checked up on me every now and then. It made me feel good, just like any kid. It’s Deion Sanders. And he was telling me the right things, not the wrong things.”

Bryant regrets not being honest with the NCAA investigators. He said he lied to them because he was nervous, not because he had anything to hide. Bryant denies that Sanders served as a runner for agent Eugene Parker, who will represent Bryant.

“His intentions were never to hurt me,” Bryant said. “He always gave me the right information. I still thank him to this day for it.”

Michael Crabtree, another talented receiver who considers Sanders a mentor, is also represented by Parker. Crabtree’s holdout continued well into the season, but Bryant said he hopes to be signed by the first day of training camp.

“I can’t wait to get back in pads,” said Bryant, who was suspended for the final 10 games of Oklahoma State’s season.

Cowboys meet with combine invitees

February, 26, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Don't read too much into reports about the Dallas Cowboys meeting with certain players at the NFL scouting combine.

Why? Because the at least one member of the Cowboys organization will meet with all 300-plus players at the combine.

A Cowboys scout meeting with a prospect is simply the organization doing its normal due dilligence. It's a little different when Jerry Jones or Stephen Jones actually sit down with a potential draft pick.

Those meetings typically happen after scouting director Tom Ciskowski suggests that the Cowboys' top two decision-makers get to know a player.