Dallas Cowboys: Joseph Randle

Dallas Cowboys Preseason Live

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
9:00
AM ET
Welcome to Dallas Cowboys training camp! ESPN.com Cowboys reporters Todd Archer and Tim MacMahon have live updates and the latest news from Oxnard, California.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

The Kyle Orton watch is over now that the Cowboys released the veteran backup. The timing of it is a surprise, and Jason Garrett spoke optimistically all offseason about Orton’s return. Now the Cowboys turn their attention to Weeden as Romo’s backup. Weeden had a productive spring, running the first-team offense as Romo recovered from back surgery. The Cowboys haven’t kept a third quarterback since 2011, and Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan will have work to do to crack the 53-man roster

RUNNING BACKS (4)


The last two spots could be up in the air. Randle, a fifth-round choice, will be pushed by free-agent pickup Ryan Williams in the preseason. Williams, a former second-round pick, was not able to stay healthy in Arizona. The Cowboys have given him a chance to win a backup job. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup in 2013. He is more versatile than undrafted rookie J.C. Copeland, but I don’t think having a fullback on the 53-man roster is set in stone.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)


I debated whether to go with a sixth, but later on you will see why I stuck with five. It is possible the Cowboys will look for a veteran in the final cuts if they feel limited by their depth because of injury, but I think they like the overall group. They will work their No. 3 receiver role on a rotation basis, but Beasley could emerge as a bigger threat on third down. There will be a lot of eyes on Williams, who takes over the No. 2 role on a full-time basis. Bryant is set for another Pro Bowl-type season.

TIGHT ENDS (3)


Witten remains near the top of the game at his position. His total catches were down last year, but his touchdowns were up. Escobar’s role figures to expand, especially as a No. 3-type receiver. Hanna has the inside track on the third spot, but I have a feeling the Cowboys will be looking for more of a traditional blocker, especially if they want to get away from the fullback spot to open up a role elsewhere.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

The top six are set, with Bernadeau or Leary fighting it out for the left guard position and the loser becoming the top backup on the interior. Parnell is in the final year of his deal, and if Weems develops, I wonder if the Cowboys would look for a trading partner. They have invested a lot in Parnell in time and money for him to be a backup, so it would be a risk, but perhaps one worth taking. Weems had a decent offseason. Clarke gets the nod as the No. 9 guy right now, but veteran Uche Nwaneri could work his way into the mix.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

I think the Cowboys will go heavy here, especially considering what happened last year and the numbers they have thrown at the position this year. Four of them are rookies -- Lawrence, Gardner, Bishop and Coleman. I believe Anthony Spencer and possibly Amobi Okoye will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, so they don’t make this 53-man roster with the idea that they join the team after the sixth game of the season. Wilson garnered the last spot over a 2013 starter, Nick Hayden, but there will be a few players in the mix for the final few spots, including Ben Bass.

LINEBACKER (7)

Carrying seven linebackers might be a little heavy, but I have special teams in mind when it comes to Will Smith. He benefits from having only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Cowboys spent the offseason telling us games are won and lost up front, so carrying an extra offensive or defensive linemen could get in this mix as well. McClain gets a spot only because of his experience. Backups of Holloman, Hitchens and Smith would be tough considering their youth, and I can see the Cowboys looking for veteran backup help around the final cut dates.

CORNERBACK (5)


Carr and Claiborne have to play exceptionally well for this defense to have a chance, and they might have to do it without much help from a consistent pass rush. Scandrick is coming off his best season, and Claiborne will have to beat him out to reclaim the starting spot. Moore can play inside and out. Mitchell showed in his limited offseason work that he can make plays. Last year’s fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb, will have to fight for a spot. Based on his offseason work, he did not make the cut for this roster.

SAFETY (5)

Church is the only player without questions. The Cowboys are projecting the other four with their biggest bet on Wilcox. He enters camp as the starter, but he could be pushed by Heath and Hamilton. Dixon will be more of a special-teams threat if he is to make the roster. Hamilton showed some playmaking in the offseason. No Matt Johnson? Not right now, especially after he couldn’t practice -- again -- for most of the offseason.

SPECIALISTS (3)


Perhaps Cody Mandell can push Jones, but Jones is the more consistent punter and has a good rapport as a holder for Bailey. Ladouceur remains one of the best long-snappers in the game. This group won’t change during the summer unless there is an injury.
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.

Running backs

On the roster: DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Ben Malena, Tyler Clutts, J.C. Copeland

Locks: Murray, Dunbar

Virtual lock: Randle, Clutts

Need help: Williams, Malena, Copeland

How many fit? The Cowboys had four running backs on the roster with either four tailbacks or three tailbacks and a fullback. That seems to be the right number in putting together the 53-man roster this year, but the breakdown could be different.

Murray, who is coming off his first 1,000-yard season, and Dunbar are locks. Randle has the inside track for the No. 3 job and would likely take over the every-down role if something were to happen to Murray. He will be pushed by Williams, who is a former second-round pick. He was unable to stay healthy in his time with the Arizona Cardinals but he has natural ability that could push him by Randle, a fifth-round pick last year.

Malena is an interesting prospect. He showed speed, quickness and smarts in the spring, and his ability to play special teams could enhance his chances. Of the other tailbacks only Dunbar has real special teams' experience.

There is a question as to whether the Cowboys will keep even one fullback. Could they go heavy and carry four tight ends, like they did for a spell last season? If they do, that fourth tight end isn't on the roster at the moment. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup. Copeland, who signed as an undrafted free agent, needs to get in better shape.

Evaluating fullbacks in the spring is difficult because they are not in pads. They are paid to move people and you can't really move people in the organized team activities and minicamp. Clutts has the edge over Copeland, and he could also play some special teams.

Could the Cowboys keep only three tailbacks? Sure, but then they would have to put one on the practice squad, which could be a spot for Malena.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
12:00
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IRVING, Texas – Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
If you want to check out Part 1, click here.

Away we go:

@toddarcher: I believe Gavin Escobar will play a lot more in 2014 than he did as a rookie but it won't come at the expense of Jason Witten. Witten will still play 98 percent of the snaps unless there is an injury or a blowout or three. Escobar's ascension isn't about Witten's descent. It's about using his skills to the fullest and trying to find a role for him. I've said this before here but I don't think Escobar will be a true on-the-line tight end. That doesn't mean he won't play there. It just means he is more Jimmy Graham in style (not ability) than Witten. That's OK. There's nothing wrong with that. Whenever Witten moves on, the Cowboys will need to find more than one guy to replace him. @toddarcher: Sure you can. I know everybody loves the "defense wins championships," adage, but if you're defining winning as only taking home a Super Bowl then I think that's a little narrow view. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers are carried by their offenses. They've won. Would you take that kind of winning around here with the Cowboys? Sure. The Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009. The Packers won it in 2010. The Patriots last won one in 2004 but have gotten to the big game. The Broncos lost in it in 2013. Since the Cowboys have won one playoff game in 475 years (has it been that long?), I think fans would take the winning those teams have had with offensive-oriented teams. @toddarcher: Lance Dunbar didn't miss a snap in the offseason so that tells me he is fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his season last year on Thanksgiving. He'll have the third-down back role. We saw Scott Linehan use Dunbar in a number of different ways in the spring. He can be good in the screen game because he's a space player. He has the ability to be a change of pace runner for DeMarco Murray. But does this mean he will see a huge role? Not necessarily because I think Murray will still be on the field for the bulk of the game. And if something happens to Murray, I think they would keep Dunbar in the third down role, expand it a little, but use Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams, whoever wins the third back job, as the every-down back. @toddarcher: Great question. I think Dwayne Harris' role will stay the same. He will be used when they go to 11 personnel at times and when they go empty. He plays a vital role and he's dependable. The quarterback likes to throw to him. I think part of the reason why you didn't hear much about him in the offseason is because he didn't do any team drills in the spring because of a shoulder surgery. We weren't able to see him do anything with Linehan on offense, so it was put on the backburner. I believe you'll see him have a role in the slot. He's a really good blocker in there. He is also one of the more dangerous punt and kick return guys in the league. 

Best case/worst case: DeMarco Murray

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
1:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- In order to break out of their 8-8 doldrums, the Dallas Cowboys will need a lot to go right in 2014.

This week we take a best-case, worst-case look at five offensive and defensive players who will go a long way in shaping the Cowboys’ season.

DeMarco Murray

Best-case: He's a closer

Murray
Murray ran for 1,121 yards last season and scored nine touchdowns on the ground. He was added to the Pro Bowl. When he plays well, the Cowboys play well. It’s as simple as that. The Cowboys have to use him more. Health will be an issue. He has yet to play a full season. But the Cowboys must use Murray more in the second halves of games and in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter of games last season, he carried just 43 times for 207 yards. In the second halves of games last season, he carried just 89 times for 391 yards. In the first halves, he carried 128 times for 730 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, he has 104 carries in the fourth quarter for 505 yards. With a defense that will need a lot of help, the Cowboys will have to finish off games by pounding the ball to kill the clock. They don’t need to alter their approach early in games. They still need to score points to get two-score leads that make running the ball make a lot more sense. The Cowboys drafted Zack Martin, in part, to be better running the ball late in games. Think back to the Green Bay game last season or the Detroit game in 2011. The Cowboys had big second-half leads and didn’t run it. Maybe it was Jason Garrett’s hubris. Maybe it was the lack of faith in the running game. There are no excuses now, even if Scott Linehan has leaned to the pass as a playcaller. If Murray is a closer, then the Cowboys can contend in the NFC East.

Worst-case: He can’t stay healthy

This was the same worst-case scenario discussed with Tony Romo. Sean Lee gets criticized for his inability to stay healthy. Murray has yet to play a full season either. Murray missed three games as a rookie. He missed six in 2012. He missed two games last season. The Cowboys are 4-6 without Murray. He is a difference-maker, but he can only be a difference-maker if he is on the field. The best running backs are durable. That was Emmitt Smith's best trait. He was there every week and he produced. If Murray goes down, the Cowboys are looking at Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams as their top back. Dunbar is not built to be an every-down back. Randle took over in Murray’s absence last season and averaged 3 yards per carry. In late-game situations, the Cowboys couldn’t kill the game, especially at Detroit. Williams has a pedigree, but he has played in five games in his career because of injury. If Murray can’t stay healthy, the look of the Cowboys’ offense changes drastically and that is not something they can afford.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 1

May, 23, 2014
May 23
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • When Dez Bryant might sign an extension.
  • Lance Dunbar’s roster spot with the addition of Ryan Williams.
  • The team’s best free-agent pickup
  • The state of the defensive line.
  • The best of the undrafted receivers.

Look for Part 2 of the mailbag on Saturday.

Away we go:

Five Wonders: Don't say bye to Free yet

May, 21, 2014
May 21
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- With a rookie minicamp out of the way and the organized team activities starting next week, it's time for the award-winning Five Wonders.

Away we go:
  1. Free
    When the Cowboys picked Zack Martin in the first round, the assumption was that he would (or could) move to right tackle in 2015 with Doug Free in the final year of his contract. I wonder if the Cowboys look to extend Free's contract this offseason. Free is set to make $3.5 million in 2014 as part of a re-worked deal he signed last year. The final two years of his contract void after this season, which means he will count $3.98 million against the cap if he's not a Cowboy in 2015. That's not a reason to keep him. He rebounded with a decent 2013 season and he just turned 30. The Cowboys need to be sensible with a new deal and we've spent the offseason talking about not paying age, which was part of the reason why they said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware and never really tried to keep Jason Hatcher. But tackles tend to play longer. Flozell Adams played his best after he turned 30. This isn't to predict Pro Bowl success for Free; just an example. As for Martin, it was interesting to hear Jerry Jones reference multiple times the importance of being stout in the middle of the line. Keeping Martin at guard might make sense.

    SportsNation

    Who's the Cowboys' best draft pick in the Jerry Jones era?

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      15%
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      33%
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      47%
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      4%
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    Discuss (Total votes: 14,799)

  2. By signing Ryan Williams to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money this week, the Cowboys have opened up the competition behind DeMarco Murray. I wonder if they can keep four tailbacks. They did the last couple of years because Phillip Tanner was able to play on most of the special teams' units. Williams' injury history would seem to keep him away from special teams. Lance Dunbar covered some kicks and punts last year, but he had a difficult time staying healthy. Joseph Randle will have to work to be a special teamer. If the Cowboys don't keep a fourth tailback it would allow them to go heavier at tight end or offensive line or even carry a third quarterback, depending on what Kyle Orton decides to do this year. It would also open up a potential spot on the practice squad for a tailback as well.

  3. The Cowboys have made adding defensive linemen to the mix an offseason priority. They want to throw numbers at the position. The Cowboys want to mix the snaps around to keep players fresh. I wonder if Henry Melton or Anthony Spencer can come even close to cashing in on their playing time incentives. Both players have to get healthy first, but Melton is further along in his rehab from a torn anterior cruciate ligament than Spencer is in his return from microfracture surgery. Melton and Spencer can earn up to $1.5 million apiece depending on certain play-time percentages. Melton can earn $250,000 for 50 percent play time and up to $750,000 if he reaches 70 percent. He has never played more than 60 percent in a season. Spencer' play-time incentive levels are 65 percent ($250,000), 75 percent ($500,000) and 85 percent ($750,000). If he starts the year on the physically unable to perform list, then he would be lucky to hit on the lowest threshold.

  4. I wonder if Jason Garrett's decision to scale back one day of the rookie minicamp because of the number of players who were hurt or were slowed by dehydration is a sign that he will be more compromising in his practice schedule throughout the year. The Cowboys have studied how other teams go about their practices and have dealt with injuries, but the general conclusion is they are doing the right things. Too many players suffered hamstring injuries the last few years. The Cowboys installed ballet bars outside the locker room to help with stretching pre- and post-practice, but I've maintained Garrett needs to cut back on his practice time. You don't want to leave your best work at Valley Ranch during the season. The Cowboys are one of the teams that use GPS devices on players to measure how much they practice, distances traveled and other pieces of information. If the numbers indicate a player has reached a threshold, then they need to rest that guy so as to not risk it. He can call it an adjustment to the new collective bargaining agreement that has shortened the offseason conditioning program. Who knows, it might just work. And it beats the alternative.

  5. On the list of position battles, punter will rank low on the list, but I wonder if undrafted Cody Mandell can push Chris Jones this summer. Mandell averaged 47.1 yards per punt last season at Alabama with a 42.1-yard net average. He had 14 punts of more than 50 yards and 15 ended up inside the 20. He had six touchbacks. Jones will go to camp as the leader without question. He averaged 45 yards per punt and had a 39-yard net average. He had 30 punts inside the 20 and just six touchbacks. He also developed into a reliable holder for Dan Bailey, which cannot be overlooked. And another aspect gives Jones an edge: he's left-footed.

Why signing Ryan Williams matters

May, 19, 2014
May 19
4:20
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The Cowboys signed former second-round pick Ryan Williams over the weekend to beef up the running back position.

Some view Williams as a possible eventual replacement for DeMarco Murray, who's entering the final year of his contract, but it's more about what Joseph Randle isn't right now.

Randle was a fifth-round pick last year, selected to become Murray's backup and future replacement. Randle struggled with pass protection and didn't emerge as the alternative to Murray during a two-game stretch in late October.

[+] EnlargeRyan Williams
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinRyan Williams gives the Cowboys another option in case DeMarco Murray can't stay healthy.
With Murray out due to a knee injury in Weeks 7 and 8, Randle had his opportunity to either take over the position or give the Cowboys hope that they could move on without Murray. Randle rushed for 91 yards in two games with no touchdowns. He averaged just 1.9 yards per carry in a loss at Detroit.

When Murray returned, he reminded everyone why he shouldn't be viewed as a short-term solution as the starter. He finished with 1,121 yards with nine touchdowns, which earned him a Pro Bowl berth.

Murray isn't a fast runner. He takes measured steps and is quick when running between the tackles. There were times he was criticized for avoiding contact, but he is a physical runner.

If anything, the Cowboys have a solid starting running back, who is only 26 and could be locked up for at least another season if the team places a contract tender on him because he will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

So with Murray in place at least for two more seasons, Randle's lack of progress in his rookie season takes center stage.

Coach Jason Garrett always talks about creating competition at most, if not all, positions and signing Williams, whom Garrett said was impressive during his workout, does that.

Randle reminds you of Murray a little bit, but why do you need two of the same guy?

Lance Dunbar is the speed back the Cowboys need as the change of pace, but what the Cowboys need is a solid backup to produce in case Murray gets injured. He's never played all 16 games in a season.

So whoever backs up Murray will be a vital. Dunbar is the third-down back and not viewed as an every-down player. Randle -- and quite possibly Williams -- is.

Williams has played in just five NFL games due to injuries. If he can maintain his health, he might push Randle down the depth chart.

Garrett said he would like to have a fullback so when the 53-man roster is established, the team could have four running backs and a fullback on it. Special teams is a factor too for the fourth running back and Randle was credited with four special-teams tackles last season.

Could Williams make the team by playing well on special teams?

Possibly, however, it's hard to believe the Cowboys will give up on Randle so quickly.

Signing Williams should create some interesting moments in training camp this summer.

Garrett excited to add Ryan Williams

May, 19, 2014
May 19
11:00
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have yet to make the signing of running back Ryan Williams official, but coach Jason Garrett is excited to have the former second-round pick on the roster.

To make room for Williams on the 90-man roster, the Cowboys cut undrafted rookie running back Glasco Martin, who played at Baylor.

Williams was the second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011 but played in only five games in three seasons because of injuries. He missed his rookie season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee. He ran for 164 yards on 58 carries in 2012 before suffering a shoulder injury. He did not play in a game last season.

"He was a guy that we regarded very highly coming out in the draft,” Garrett said. “He was one of the best backs in the draft that year, and somebody we thought a lot of. He’s gone there, and he’s had some injuries, had injuries in ’11 and ’12. Then, he was injury-free last year but just didn’t play because of what their running-back situation was and their roster makeup. But he’s someone when we watched him on tape - he played mostly in 2012, before he hurt his shoulder - he looks like the back we saw coming out of school. We did our due diligence, and we feel like bringing in a guy like that in to compete at that running back spot is good for our team.”

The Cowboys have kept four tailbacks on the 53-man roster in recent years and Williams joins DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle as the veteran backs. The club also signed undrafted free agents Ben Malena and Glasco Martin, who took part in the weekend’s rookie minicamp.

“I’ve worked my tail off to get to this point,” Williams said. “It was a rocky road, but I got it done. Regardless of how anybody sees my career going, it was beneficial for me not to play last year and the other year I got hurt with my shoulder. It just gives my knee more time. This isn’t an easy injury to come back from at all. It worked for me.”

Cowboys' rookie pool set

May, 14, 2014
May 14
1:45
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a rookie pool of $5.792 million to sign their nine draft picks and undrafted free agents.

SportsNation

Who will lead the Cowboys in sacks this season?

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    27%
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    17%
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    1%
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    25%
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    30%

Discuss (Total votes: 14,176)

Several teams have already started signing their draft picks and it is something the Cowboys could start to do at this weekend's rookie minicamp. Last year the Cowboys signed DeVonte Holloman, Joseph Randle and B.W. Webb in a five-day span in May. The entire draft class was signed by the end of June.

The Cowboys kick off a two-day minicamp Friday and could look to wrap up deals with picks in Rounds 4-7: Anthony Hitchens, Devin Street, Ben Gardner, Will Smith, Ahmad Dixon, Ken Bishop and Terrance Mitchell.

With the new collective bargaining agreement there is little negotiating involved, making the deals easy to reach conclusions. The late-round picks will receive base salaries of $420,000, $510,000, $600,000 and $690,000 on their four-year deals. All of the draft picks will receive four-year deals but the Cowboys will hold a fifth-year option on first rounder Zack Martin.

The Cowboys have $5.5 million in salary-cap space and will gain another $5.5 million in salary-cap space when Miles Austin's contract comes off the books June 2.

The extra space could help the Cowboys in securing long-term deals for Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith over the summer. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said during the draft the teams hopes to start talks with Smith's agent, "sooner rather than later."
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:

.
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have drafted players with varying degrees of injuries over the years, hoping they found value where others saw risk.

They did it with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter in the second rounds of back-to-back drafts in 2010 and '11. Morris Claiborne had wrist surgery before the 2012 draft, and Dallas had no qualms trading up to get him. Joseph Randle was picked in the fifth round last year despite a thumb surgery that kept him out a good portion of the offseason.

Despite not wanting to use it as an excuse the past few years, the Cowboys often cite injuries as the major reason as to why they have finished 8-8. With just a little bit of luck in the health department, owner/general manager Jerry Jones hinted on Tuesday, the Cowboys would have been a playoff team and will be a playoff team this year.

So would the Cowboys be as willing to draft players with injury flags, such as Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who tore both of his anterior cruciate ligaments in college?

“I think you have to always measure the value that you’re getting, but at the same time I think one of issues at the top of the list the last couple of years have been injuries,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “That was brought up in the draft room and we have to be cognizant of that injuries have been a little bit of what’s put us behind the eight ball a little bit. We’ll certainly have to take a long, hard look at that before we pull that trigger but that doesn’t mean we won’t do it. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question.”
IRVING, Texas -- In many ways a successful draft is measured by how well a team does in the later rounds.

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe put together a story about teams that draft well and poorly with an interesting graphic.

SportsNation

Who would be the best first-round pick for the Cowboys?

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    21%
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    49%
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    19%
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    5%
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    6%

Discuss (Total votes: 11,576)

The Dallas Cowboys are one of six teams not to have a current starter they selected in Rounds 5-7, according to the chart, which means Volin did not count Orlando Scandrick (fifth round, 2008) as a starter even though he started most of the 2013 season. If Morris Claiborne performed up to capabilities and was not hurt, he would have been the starter. If you count Scandrick, then the Cowboys would be one of 12 teams to have one starter from Rounds 5-7.

The other five without a starter were the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears.

Since 2010, the Cowboys have had 12 picks in Rounds 5-7 and only Dwayne Harris, James Hanna, Joseph Randle and DeVonte Holloman remain.

Hitting on late-round picks is guesswork in a lot of ways. In 2004, the Cowboys hit on three seventh-rounders in Nate Jones, Patrick Crayton and Jacques Reeves. They all had productive NFL careers and earned second contracts.

That’s the goal: find players who can fill roles. The Cowboys kept Crayton for a second contract, but Jones and Reeves left after their rookie deals expired.

Teams build their depth through late-round picks and the Cowboys have not hit enough in the late rounds to fortify their depth. The Seattle Seahawks had an NFL-best five starters from Rounds 5-7 in 2013. The Philadelphia Eagles were next with four.

Also in Volin’s chart is a look at undrafted starters. The Cowboys had a league-high five in 2013 with Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Barry Church, Ronald Leary and Jeff Heath. The Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins had four apiece to tie for second.

For years the Cowboys have excelled in finding undrafted free agents. In the last three years they have landed Dan Bailey, Phillip Tanner, Chris Jones, Ben Bass, Cole Beasley, Leary, Heath and Cam Lawrence.

They make up for the misses in Rounds 5-7 with hits in undrafted free agency. With three compensatory picks in the seventh round this year, the Cowboys will have the chance to draft what would have been their priority undrafted free agents.

They only hope they’re not just making up for misses in Rounds 5-7.
IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys chat returning to its normal day (Wednesday), the leftovers are back on schedule.

As usual, we start with a leftover question: chocolate chip cookies or brownies? I might have to go with brownies after a 12-second blast in the microwave.

In this leftover post regarding the Cowboys we focus on a few topics:
Away we go ...

Kelly McMurrian (Nampa): What the chances of Dallas drafting Tre Mason? BIG TIME TALENT and EXPLOSIVE!

Todd Archer: Word came out Friday that he has a wrist injury but that’s not too troubling to me. Surgery would clear it up. But I just don’t see the Cowboys drafting a running back. Maybe late and by then Mason will be long gone. DeMarco Murray is their guy. They like the combination they have at backup in Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle. They could use another runner with some experience and special teams' capabilities, but I think they find that guy as a college free agent or a low-cost free agent. If Murray gets hurt -- or any of their runners gets hurt -- then I think they just go find a runner somewhere.

Mike (Pennsylvania): Do you really believe you have a clue about anything? You talk like you have a crystal ball Archer. WHY?

Todd Archer: Well, thanks for reading Mike. I think I have a clue about some things, but I don’t know everything that’s going on with this club, obviously. But this is kind of why they pay us: to inform fans of what’s going on, have a thought on why the team will or won’t do something, have a thought on what they will or won’t do. Will I be wrong? Sure I will. We all will be wrong. Heck, I’ve had them making the playoffs the last couple of years.

Bruce (Dallas): Is Tyrone Crawford a better player than George Selvie?

Todd Archer: Let me get out my crystal ball here and answer this one. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). He better be a better player. Now, Selvie has been much better than I thought. I thought people were getting carried away with his performance in the Hall of Fame Game last summer against the Dolphins and referenced Junior Glymph’s preseason performance from a few years ago. I was wrong. (See, Mike? Sorry, couldn’t resist that either.) Selvie had seven sacks last year and played better than anybody could have imagined, even the Cowboys, who were hoping he would be able to get them through some practices when he signed in camp, not finish second on the team in sacks. I do believe Selvie is best served to be a backup, but I could be wrong again. The Cowboys view Crawford as a difference maker. He was a third-round pick. Those guys need to develop into starters. Now will that happen this year? That’s hard to predict (that dang crystal ball is fuzzy) because he’s coming off the Achilles injury. He has the size. He moves well enough. He can play with power. He’ll fight. He has a solid upside and the Cowboys want him to be a starter as soon as possible.

Roger (Syracuse, NY): Todd, What player do you think will be the most-improved Cowboy in 2014-15 season? I say Cowboy because I'm referencing both coaches and players. I know I know, coaches coach and players play, but still. Thoughts?

Todd Archer: Good question here, Roger. I’ll go with Gavin Escobar as most improved, but I’m basing that on the belief he will play a lot more in 2014 than last season not because his blocking will be that much better. I think the Cowboys will use him and play to his strengths more. In other words, he’ll attack the seams and be a red-zone threat on occasion. Lance Dunbar could get in that mix too. I thought he’d be a 40-catch guy last year but injuries really hurt him. Scott Linehan really used his backs in the passing game last year in Detroit, so that needs to be watched here. On defense I have a hard time coming up with somebody, but I know the Cowboys hope the answer is Morris Claiborne. We’ve talked about his play a ton here lately to the point where I’m wondering if he ever made a play. He really wasn’t awful when he played but when you’re the sixth pick in the draft, you expect more than just adequate performances. I think J.J.Wilcox has a chance too. He was coming on in camp last summer before his mother passed away. And he was playing decently early in the regular season before a knee injury sidetracked him. With some experience last year and more time to learn the game in a full offseason, I think Wilcox can improve a lot.

Alex (Afghanistan soldier): Chances Cowboys taking a speedy guy like Dri Archer to help with returns and play slot?

Todd Archer: First off, Alex, thanks for your service. I said in the chat that a team would never go wrong with selecting the best Archer available in a draft. Dri is the best one available. But I don’t know if he fits with the Cowboys. He can do all of the things you say, but that would duplicate to a degree what the Cowboys have in Lance Dunbar, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris. Harris has shown to be one of the best returners in the game in the last year and a half. He is dangerous whenever he touches the ball. Beasley has the trust of Tony Romo. Dunbar had a breakout game vs. Oakland before he got hurt. Archer will thrive in the league, in my opinion, but I just think the Cowboys have needs at other spots.

Reviewing the Cowboys' drafts: 2013

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
9:30
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – We conclude the reviewing the Dallas Cowboys' last five drafts today with the Class of 2013.

If you want our thoughts on the 2009-12 drafts, click here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011 and here for 2012.

First-round pick: Travis Frederick (No. 31 overall)

Number of picks: 7

Frederick
How they did: The Cowboys moved down from No. 18 to No. 31 in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers despite having their fifth rated player on their draft board available in Sharrif Floyd. It was a strange move at the time, especially with many believing Frederick was a third- or fourth-round pick. The Cowboys picked up the 49ers' third-round selection and took wide receiver Terrance Williams.

The formula might have been flawed but the results were good because Frederick played like a veteran from his first day and Williams made big plays and will be counted as a starter in 2014. They saw contributions from Gavin Escobar, J.J. Wilcox, Joseph Randle and DeVonte Holloman to varying levels. Escobar, Wilcox and Holloman could all see starting-type roles in 2014.

Pivotal pick: Escobar (No. 47 overall). The Cowboys were set to renew their commitment to a two-tight end personnel group and Escobar was supposed to pair up with Jason Witten. The Cowboys knew he would need help as a blocker, but counted on his receiving skills to set him apart. He was not given a ton of playing time with James Hanna, a sixth-rounder in 2012, taking the bulk of the No. 2 tight end snaps. Escobar finished with nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns and showed flashes of athleticism, but questions remain just as they did on other former second-round picks the Cowboys used on tight ends in Anthony Fasano (2006) and Martellus Bennett (2008).

Best pick: The Cowboys were nearly wiped out of ready-made linemen when they got to Frederick. They had eyes on Justin Pugh and Kyle Long, but they went at Nos. 19 and 20 after they made the trade. Frederick eased any fears with a terrific rookie season. He rarely made mental mistakes and was strong at the point of attack throughout. The Cowboys worked him some in training camp at guard, but center was his best position. He is smart and can communicate well. He has the look of a 10-year starter at the position.

Worst pick: B.W. Webb (No. 114 overall). He might have the physical tools but the jump from William & Mary to the NFL was too big for him last year. When the Cowboys lost Morris Claiborne to hamstring injuries, Webb was asked to fill in on the slot and struggled. He was given one-on-one instruction in practice and never got comfortable. He eventually lost his playing time to Sterling Moore and needs to improve greatly in 2014.

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