Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Lattimore

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys draft is over but not forgotten, so there’s no time like now than to wonder about things that did and did not happen.

On to 5 Wonders:

** If the Cowboys are going to be a predominantly two-tight end team, like they say they are, then I wonder if they should have taken Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert at No. 18 and risked the chance that Travis Frederick would be there at No. 47. If they had gone that route, they would have had the best tight end and best center in the draft with their top two picks. The Cowboys had their eyes on Justin Pugh with the No. 31 pick, but he went to the New York Giants at No. 19. They felt Frederick was the final offensive lineman in the draft capable of being a Day 1 starter and did not want to risk losing him or waiting until the second round. That’s a draft for need, which is OK at that point, but Eifert will be somebody worth watching for the next few years.


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** I wonder if the Cowboys will alter how they will evaluate defensive lineman after what happened with Sharrif Floyd. He was among the top-10 players on their board, perhaps the highest rated defensive player, and he was staring them in the face with the 18th pick. And they passed on him. Then you hear about the kid’s arm length and lack of sacks. Well, those were things everybody knew before the draft. What it came down to was scheme fit and Floyd wasn’t deemed to fit in what the Cowboys wanted in 4-3 tackles. Had they stuck with the 3-4, then I can almost guarantee they would have selected him. If a player is not a scheme fit, then he just can’t be that high on their draft board.

** I wonder if Jerry Jones understands how even in points of praise he can also hurt. Take Tony Romo as an example. On Friday, Jones said Romo played a part in the selections of Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams in the second and third rounds. Jones was attempting to show Romo was all-in. Well, what about the current players on the roster at those positions. Should they now think Romo didn’t like them as much? And then Jones said part of the quarterback’s new megadeal meant he had to spend “Peyton Manning time” at the facility. For those who questioned Romo’s commitment, that was all they needed to further their belief that Romo was not fully vested when Romo has always been a “football junkie.”

Did Jerry Jones call out Tony Romo? Fitzsimmons & Durrett react to exclusive audio of Jones talking about the quarterback's increased role, who will be calling plays for the Cowboys and the Peyton Manning-like time he anticipates Romo putting in.

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**Over the last two years every team in the NFC East has looked at a quarterback-of-the-future/present in the draft. Washington did it last year with Robert Griffin III and also took Kirk Cousins. Philadelphia traded up for the top pick of the fourth round to take Matt Barkley a year after they took Nick Foles. The New York Giants grabbed Ryan Nassib in the fourth round. And the Cowboys chose to pass on the position. Again. Romo turned 33 recently. Kyle Orton is signed through 2014. I wonder if next year is the year the Cowboys look to the quarterback position. No, I do. Really. I had no problem with the club not taking a QB this year, but had Barkley, Nassib and Tyler Wilson dropped to them in the fourth round, I wonder if they would have pulled the trigger this year. Since they passed on Landry Jones, I think we know he wasn’t their guy. Is it too early to think about A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray or any other QB? And, yes, I realize Johnny Manziel could be draft eligible. A quick aside: For those wondering why the Cowboys didn’t go after Tyler Bray, think about it. His coach, Derek Dooley, is on this staff now. Don’t you think the team would need to know all (stress all) there would be to know? And if the kid panned out at Tennessee, then Dooley would still be the Vols coach.

** I hope Marcus Lattimore turns into a great success. His story would be a terrific inspiration for everybody. But he wasn’t what the Cowboys needed. I wonder if people realize San Francisco was able to take a flier on Lattimore, who is coming back from a horrific knee injury, because it had so many picks. The Niners had the opportunity to offer up a redshirt year for Lattimore. The Cowboys, who entered the draft with six picks and added one through a trade with the Niners, didn’t. They needed a running back to help right now and they got Joseph Randle in the fifth round. If Lattimore becomes a star, then good for San Francisco but I would not use that as a knock on how the Cowboys ran their draft.

Observations from the scouting combine

February, 26, 2013
After reading Todd Archer's fine work from Indianapolis the last few days, here are some thoughts on what was said regarding the Dallas Cowboys:

Herm Edwards joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the NFL combine and Cowboys' offseason. Edwards says Rod Marinelli is the key to the defense this season, not Monte Kiffin. He also talks about what it would be like to work for Jerry Jones.

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1. Stephen Jones says there's a possibility of moving Doug Free to one of the guard spots. Why? Free seems more poised to play tackle and didn't play well at that position in 2012. It might be more of the Cowboys trying to keep Free on the roster while sliding Jermey Parnell into the starting right tackle spot. However, what was the point of singing Nate Livings and Mackenzey Bernardeau to contracts worth $30 million last spring if you're giving up on them now? I didn't think Livings played bad, and Bernadeau improved as the season progressed. The Cowboys, however, do have a propensity to hold on to players too long. (Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo are just of the names.) If Free didn't play well in 2012 and Parnell seems to have a better future, then move on from Free.

2. Jerry Jones wants the credit if and when the Cowboys turn things around and reach the Super Bowl. Jones sounds like a man frustrated with the criticism he's taken over the years and dumbfounded about why the organization can't move forward. It seemed the Cowboys were moving in a positive direction under Bill Parcells, but after that 2006 playoff loss to Seattle the Cowboys' window for whatever reason started to close. The next season, the Cowboys reached the playoffs as the No. 1 seed only to get bounced out of the postseason by the New York Giants. From there the Cowboys have been mediocre. You can say the 2009 season was a positive, but Tony Romo couldn't outplay an aging Brett Favre on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs in Minnesota. It seems the window on this current Cowboys team has closed and maybe Jones is trying to open it again, but he's having trouble doing it.

3. Jerry Jones said he doesn't believe he's in the same financial ballpark as Anthony Spencer. The team is more than $20 million over the salary cap and, yes, they can structure things to pay Spencer, but do they believe Spencer is worth $10-12 million per year on average? I think not. The Cowboys' front office has done nothing but praise Spencer's work of the last year. The team doesn't love him enough to pay him.

4. It was good to hear Stephen Jones talk about adding a running back in the draft or through free agency. Reggie Bush has been mentioned, but he may not come cheap. Mel Kiper Jr. has given South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore a third-round grade. Maybe that's an option. The Cowboys can't go into this draft thinking they should draft a backup to DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys have to enter this drafting selecting people who can become starters or want to become starters. If Lattimore is there in Round 2? Get him. Round 3? Get him.

5. The safety position, we thought, was solidified last season with Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh. The current salary cap situation has made things less stable. Sensabaugh's $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster March 12, the start of the league year. If Sensabaugh is released the Cowboys save $1.4 million. If that happens, the Cowboys better draft a safety early. (Please don't mention a veteran because the Cowboys have been there and done that.) Matt Johnson didn't play a lick last season because of hamstring injuries, but the Cowboys believe he's got playmaking ability and were impressed by him during the brief time he practiced. Johnson better make some plays next season after the Cowboys kept him on the active roster for all of 2012.

Cowboys to meet with Manti Te'o, Marcus Lattimore

February, 23, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – In a draft that is not considered flashy by any stretch, the Cowboys are meeting with two of the more intriguing prospects for a variety reasons at the NFL scouting combine.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o will have a formal sit down with the Cowboys in Indianapolis, and the team held an informal meeting with South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, according to sources.

The meetings are nothing more than business as usual for the Cowboys – and every team at the combine – in an attempt to cover all of their bases before the April draft.

Te’o, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, will meet with the media on Saturday and will no doubt be pressed about an on-line relationship that proved to be a scam and became a national story. The Cowboys are not in need of a linebacker like Te’o with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter set to man the middle and weakside linebacker spots in the 4-3 scheme, but it’s important to do due diligence on all players.

And that’s the same for Lattimore.

Lattimore tore three ligaments in his right knee in a game last year, moving him from a likely first-round pick to a mid- to late-round pick. He tore his left anterior cruciate as a sophomore. He had major surgery in November, but reports are that he has made great strides and hopes to play in 2013.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team has a need at running back behind DeMarco Murray. Felix Jones is set to be a free agent and unlikely to return. Stephen Jones said he views Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner more as No. 3 backs. Given Murray’s inability to stay healthy his first two years, the Cowboys need a reliable No. 2.