Dallas Cowboys: Chris Whaley

Constructing a 53-man roster is a difficult process, piecing together 10 positions groups and matching up present needs with future production of older and younger players. This week we take a look at constructing the Dallas Cowboys' roster.

Defensive line

On the roster: George Selvie, Terrell McClain, Henry Melton, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Anthony Spencer, Jeremy Mincey, Nick Hayden, Ken Bishop, Davon Coleman, Ben Gardner, Amobi Okoye, Martez Wilson, Dartwan Bush, Chris Whaley, Caesar Rayford, Ben Bass

Locks: Selvie, McClain, Melton, Lawrence, Crawford, Mincey

Inside track: Spencer, Hayden, Bishop, Gardner, Coleman, Bass

Need help: Wilson, Coleman, Bush, Whaley, Rayford,Okoye

How many fit? The Cowboys needed 20 defensive linemen last year because of injuries and a revolving door of newcomers who mostly struggled. The Cowboys opened the year last season with 10 defensive linemen on the 53-man roster and ended the year with that many, but the only constants were Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware, Edgar Jones, Hayden and Selvie.

Selvie
Ten seems to be the right number again in 2014 as the Cowboys plan to attack with numbers if not known commodities. Spencer and Okoye could be candidates to open the year on the physically unable to perform list because of injuries. Hayden started every game last year, but he is not a lock to make the roster. Selvie had seven sacks last year but he is not a lock to start. Crawford did not play last year because of an Achilles’ injury. Melton is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. McClain had a productive spring but can he carry that over to a full-time role?

The Cowboys gave up their third-round pick to move up for Lawrence, and he will fight with Mincey for a starting spot. He looks the part, but he has a lot to learn. Going against Tyron Smith might be a good thing. The Cowboys are betting that Mincey will be able to find a niche as a quality pass rusher.

Bass is entering his third training camp. He has flashed ability but hasn’t been able to stay healthy in his first two years. Gardner, Bishop and Coleman could be viewed as a part of the future as the line gets the overhaul the offensive line began in 2011. Rayford looks the part but has to have a good preseason to earn a spot. Wilson has some pass rush to him.

Losing Ware and Hatcher and possibly not having Spencer until the seventh game of the season, this group does not have high expectations. Rod Marinelli kind of likes it that way, but he has to somehow coax pass rush out of players who have yet to do it on a consistent basis.

The series:

Quarterbacks
Specialists
Running backs
Safeties
Wide receivers
Cornerbacks
Tight ends
Linebackers
Offensive line

Workload unlikely to change for Tony Romo

June, 17, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Through the organized team activities, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has been kept out of competitive drills as well as some individual work as he recovers from December back surgery.

Romo
With the Cowboys' minicamp starting Tuesday, Romo will continue down the same road. Romo has said recently he expects to be 100 percent within a few weeks, but that time frame comes after the Cowboys' offseason is over.

"We'll take him day-by-day like we do with all the other guys," Garrett said last week, "but I don't see it changing dramatically."

Romo has gone through walkthrough drills with the first-team offense and thrown individual routes with wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. He has not taken a snap in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills. He has also sat out of the quarterback's footwork drills as the team attempts to protect him from jarring motions as much as possible.

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Romo will not be the only Cowboy to likely be limited because of injury during the three-day minicamp. Wide receiver L'Damian Washington (shoulder), wide receiver Devin Street (quadriceps bruise), safety Matt Johnson (hamstring), linebacker DeVonte Holloman, linebacker Anthony Hitchens, defensive end Ben Gardner (groin), defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (illness), defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee), defensive tackle Chris Whaley (knee), wide receiver Dwayne Harris (shoulder), defensive end George Selvie (shoulder), defensive end Caesar Rayford (shoulder) have been either slowed by injury during all or part of the offseason program.

Johnson took part in just one OTA before his hamstring tightened up. Because of his history (he missed his rookie season with recurring hamstring injuries) the Cowboys have wanted to protect Johnson. He missed last season because of foot surgery.

He is hoping to take part in the minicamp in some fashion.

"I've just been making sure it's good to go," Johnson said. "I think we're being over-cautious but I feel good."

Cornerback Terrance Mitchell, one of the Cowboys' five seventh-round picks, will take part in team drills for the first time since the rookie minicamp in May. League rules prevented him from showing up before June 13 because Oregon had not graduated.

Sore hip slows Ahmad Dixon

May, 16, 2014
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IRVING, Texas – Safety Ahmad Dixon’s rookie mini-camp has gotten off to a slow start.

One of the Dallas Cowboys’ five seventh-round picks, Dixon did not practice Friday because of a hip strain that he initially hurt at the Senior Bowl in January.

“Just a little sore,” Dixon said. “The trainers wanted to keep me out so I don’t do nothing worse to it. We just want to be very cautious with it.”

Dixon did not miss a game in his final three years at Baylor, starting 38 of the 39 games. He said the soreness started on Thursday. He arrived at Valley Ranch on Monday and started working out with the veterans and taking part in the on-field teaching sessions.

“It’s very frustrating, but, I mean, what’s my life without adversity?” Dixon said. “I’m always dealing with it. It’s nothing new to me. I’ve just got to learn from it, keep growing and move forward.”

He was not sure when he would be able to get back on the field. The rookie camp ends Saturday but most of the rookies will be able to continue in the offseason program through its conclusion.

Second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence is expected to be on hand for Saturday’s practice after leaving to see his newborn son. Lawrence arrived at Valley Ranch on Thursday for a quick meeting with the coaches and staff. Undrafted rookie Chris Whaley did not practice as he continues his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Defensive tackle Maurice Couch, who is in camp on a tryout basis, was forced from practice early because of a leg injury.

CB gets Cowboys' top undrafted bonus

May, 15, 2014
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IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have not been shy in giving larger than normal signing bonuses or guaranteed money to undrafted free agents, but their 24 signings totaled $66,500 and no guaranteed money in base salaries.

Tarleton State cornerback Dashaun Phillips, a Duncanville, Texas, native, received the largest signing bonus at $7,500. Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington received $7,000 to sign. Running back Glasco Martin did not receive a signing bonus.

In 2012, the Cowboys guaranteed guard Ronald Leary $214,000. Last year, the Cowboys guaranteed linebacker Brandon Magee $70,000 and paid out a $10,000 signing bonus to Jakar Hamilton.

Here is the remaining breakdown of signing bonuses:

$5,000
QB Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M
DT Chris Whaley, Texas
OL Jarrod Pughsley, Akron
OL Josh Aladenoye, Illinois State

$3,500
WR Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt

$3,000
OL Andre Cureton, Cincinnati

$2,500
TE Evan Wilson, Illinois

$2,000
FB J.C. Copeland, LSU
RB Ben Malena, Texas A&M
S Marvin Robinson, Ferris State
P Cody Mandell, Alabama
LB Keith Smith, San Jose State

$1,500
S Ryan Smith, Auburn
OG Ronald Patrick, South Carolina
OG Brian Clarke, Bloomsburg
TE Jordan Najvar, Baylor
LS Casey Kreiter, Iowa
CB Jocquel Skinner, Bethel
DE Joe Windsor, Northern Illinois
DT Davin Coleman, Arizona State

$1,000
LB Dontavis Sapp, Tennessee

Cowboys add college free agents

May, 11, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys were busy after the draft, agreeing to deals with more than 20 college free agents, including Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar.

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In a spread offense Najvar didn’t get many opportunities, catching 35 passes in three years, but he has an NFL frame at 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds. The Cowboys have only three tight ends on the roster in Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar and James Hanna. The Cowboys also reached a deal with Illinois tight end Evan Wilson.

The Cowboys also added Baylor running back Glasco Martin and Texas A&M running back Ben Malena, who took part in the Cowboys’ Dallas Day workout. He starred at Cedar Hill before going to A&M. The Cowboys also agreed to deals with defensive linemen Chris Whaley (Texas) and Davon Coleman (Arizona State) who were among the team’s national visitors.

The Cowboys drafted players from Northern Illinois (Ken Bishop), Baylor (Ahmad Dixon) and Iowa (Anthony Hitchens), and also added players as free agents from those schools.

The Cowboys also added the following players: Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A&M, Ryan Smith, S, Auburn, Josh Aladenoye, OT, Illinois State, Joe Windsor, DE, Northern Illinois, Dontavis Sapp, LB, Tennessee, Ronald Patrick, OG, South Carolina, Jarrod Pughsley, OT Akron, Cody Mandell, P, Alabama, Marvin Robinson, S, Ferris State, Keith Smith, LB, San Jose State, Brian Clarke, OG, Bloomsburg, J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU, L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri, Andre Cureton, OL, Cincinnati, Casey Kreiter, LS, Iowa, Jocquel Skinner, CB, Bethel, Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt.
IRVING, Texas -- If the past is any indicator, the Dallas Cowboys will make their draft selections from players that were among their national visitors.

In the past nine years, the only top picks not to visit the Cowboys were DeMarcus Ware (2005) and Morris Claiborne (2012).

Last year, five picks -- Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb and Joseph Randle -- met with the coaches, scouts, medical staff and front-office personnel before the draft.

Here are the 25 known visitors to Valley Ranch before the draft.

Keep this list handy over the next three days:

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Dominique Easley to make Cowboys visit

April, 21, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley was scheduled to visit the Dallas Cowboys last week, but the trip was postponed so he could focus on his workout in Gainesville, Fla.

Instead Easley will visit with the Cowboys' coaches, scouts and medical staff this week, according to sources.

Of the known visitors to Valley Ranch, Easley will be the 13th defensive lineman. The team brought in more than 20 prospects last week as part of their top-30 visits and also held its Dallas Day workouts for local prospects.

Teams have serious medical concerns about Easley. He tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in practice last season. He tore his left ACL in 2011. If healthy, he would be a first-round pick. Even with the issues, he could go in the second round.

The Cowboys have shown a willingness to spend early picks on players coming off serious knee injuries, doing it with linebackers Sean Lee (2010) and Bruce Carter (2011).

The other defensive linemen with official visits to Valley Ranch include: Kony Ealy, Davon Coleman, Jerrod Black, Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald, Demarcus Lawrence, Timmy Jernigan, Will Clarke, Scott Crichton, Ken Bishop, Chris Whaley and Kerry Hyder.

Beyond the first round: Defensive tackles

April, 21, 2014
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Each day over the next 10 days, we will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Dallas Cowboys. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options after the first 32 picks. We open the series with defensive tackles.

Second round, Dominique Easley (Florida): If not for health concerns, he would be a first-round pick. He tore both anterior cruciate ligaments in college, and teams will be concerned about his long-term viability. The Cowboys have shown a willingness to take a chance on injured players in the past, and Easley could be the type of disruptive defensive lineman Rod Marinelli craves.

[+] EnlargeDaQuan Jones
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SportsAt 6-foot-4 and 322 pounds, Penn State's Daquan Jones would fit Dallas' 4-3 scheme.
Third round, Daquan Jones (Penn State): At 6-foot-4, 322 pounds, he is ideally suited to be the one technique in the Cowboys’ 4-3 defense. He is strong and can control the interior against the run. He has strong hands that allow him to dictate the action. He has some pass-rush, skills but his fit here would be as a two-down player as a rookie.

Fourth round, Caraun Reid (Princeton): A Princeton coach in Jason Garrett, drafting a Princeton player. Perfect. Reid, however, has ability and scheme flexibility. He is more of a three-technique with his quickness and ability to work in short areas. He helped himself at the Senior Bowl against better competition to show teams he can make the jump in levels.

Fifth round, Justin Ellis (La. Tech): He is just a massive player at 6-1, 334 pounds. He is the prototype nose tackle, which is OK for a fifth rounder. His ability to hold up in the middle would help the linebackers flow to the plays. He had 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss last season. Some off-field concerns, but he would bring size the Cowboys need in the middle.

Sixth round, Kerry Hyder (Texas Tech): He was among the national visitors to Valley Ranch. He is an active player with a nose for the ball. A second-team All Big 12 pick, he had 65 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, two sacks, five hurries, three forced fumbles, two blocked kicks, two hurries and one pass breakup. He started his final 38 games.

Seventh round, Chris Whaley (Texas): He arrived in Austin as a running back, but moved to the defensive line. Maybe he could be another Henry Melton, who did the same with the Longhorns. He missed the final four games last season with a knee injury, but he had four tackles for loss, two sacks an interception and 23 tackles.

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