Dallas Cowboys: NFL Draft

There was a lot of talking going on last weekend from the defensive side of the ball regarding the Dallas Cowboys.

It started with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli talking about Bruce Carter needing to toughen up and saying he doesn't coach confidence.

Then we had secondary coach Jerome Henderson saying everybody on the defense has to improve.

Matt Eberflus, the linebackers coach, said the strongside and weakside linebacker spots, with contenders Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, DeVonte Holloman and Carter, are open.

[+] EnlargeRod Marinelli
AP Photo/Tim SharpAfter not reaching the postseason for a third straight year, it could be playoffs or bust for Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys' coaching staff.
But the weekend wouldn’t be complete without cornerback Brandon Carr, he of the five-year, $50.1 million free-agent contract, saying he must take over the league.

The statements from these men are fine, of course, because people need to be called out and challenged.

Yet, many of the people doing the talking were part of a defense that gave up a franchise-worst 6,645 yards last season.

The Cowboys also gave up 2,056 rushing yards, ninth-most in franchise history.

You could say the coaches can only do so much from the sidelines and you might also comment about the players working within the scheme.

In reality, if the Cowboys' defense doesn't improve in 2014, several of the people doing all the talking won’t be around to collect Jerry Jones’ checks any longer.

You see, the head coach, Jason Garrett, is in a contract year. And while Jones doesn’t believe in lame-duck statuses -- calling it a politician's word -- if the Cowboys fail to reach the postseason for a fifth consecutive season, it’s very difficult to believe the same staff and defensive pieces will return.

Marinelli is a respected coach in this league but after last season’s debacle you begin to wonder if he’s lost his fastball.

Players love playing for him.

Listen to him talk and you want to play for him.

In a bottom-line business, Marinelli convinced the front office to sign free agent Henry Melton as the new three-technique defensive tackle while coming off a torn ACL.

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey, a free-agent signing who underachieved in Jacksonville, is another Marinelli confirmation.

Marinelli loves second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence's passion and measureables and has the hopes of inserting him as DeMarcus Ware's replacement at right defensive end.

And because of that there is an expectation for Lawrence to produce in his rookie year considering what the Cowboys gave up to get him, swapping second-round picks with the Washington Redskins and giving up a third to get him.

Of course, you expect Marinellis’ magic to continue with George Selvie (seven sacks from left defensive end) and Nick Hayden (16 quarterback pressures from defensive tackle) in 2014.

Selvie was signed in training camp when injuries began to pile up along the defensive line. Hayden was already here looking at a backup role until injuries forced him into the starting lineup.

Are Selvie and Hayden going to finally be productive players or just below average?

There’s the tricky situation at linebacker where Carter hasn’t been consistent while making the adjustment from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme.

Marinelli called Carter out the other day at Valley Ranch, but are you really calling somebody out who got benched for poor play during the 2013 season?

This whole thing isn’t mainly on Marinelli -- it’s on a lot of other people at Valley Ranch.

When the draft ended last week, the Cowboys were praised in many circles for how well they performed. It was about defense and seven of the nine picks were for Marinelli’s unit.

The Cowboys made football decisions for a change, bypassing the flash of Johnny Manziel at quarterback, and getting the substance of tackle Zack Martin.

Adding backups for middle linebacker Sean Lee (Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round), depth for the defensive line (Ben Gardner and Ken Bishop in the seventh) and strong side (Will Smith in the seventh) along with a safety (Ahmad Dixon in the seventh) appear solid decisions.

None of it means anything if the main people on the defensive roster and men like Marinelli don’t make it work.

And while Jerry Jones is supporting the ideas of adding more playoff teams, the decisions made for his defense need to have substance in 2014.
The Cowboys have two draft picks entering this weekend’s rookie minicamp recovering from injuries. Wide receiver Devin Street -- the team's fifth-round pick -- missed the final three games of the 2013 season with Pittsburgh dealing with shoulder, ankle and elbow injuries.

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His shoulder was the biggest issue, and it prevented him from completing bench press workouts during the combine. Yet, during a private workout with Cowboys wide receiver coach Derek Dooley he was able to complete the work.

Street told the Cowboys’ website he’s 100 percent healthy.

"Definitely ready to go fully, 100 percent healthy," Street told Cowboys.com. "I met with the training staff, I’m all cleared to go. I fell a little bit in the draft -- it doesn’t matter, though. I’m at the place I want to be."

Defensive tackle Ben Gardner -- a seventh-round pick from Stanford -- was cleared by an independent doctor last week for football activities from a torn pectoral muscle suffered last October.

Gardner and Street both said their injuries damaged their stock with NFL teams in the draft.

“I think the guys are pretty healthy in general,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We think Gardner will be ready to go. There are a couple of guys that have some exam type situations this week, but we do anticipate for the most part everybody being in here and ready to go.”
If there is one thing we learned from the 2014 NFL draft in regards to the Dallas Cowboys is the statement they made to weak side linebacker Bruce Carter.

Carter
Carter
Sitting there in the middle of the first round was Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, whom the Cowboys valued highly.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Shazier at No. 15, sending a surprise to some considering the AFC North team needed help at cornerback.

With Shazier off the board, the Cowboys went to the best player available and snagged Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin with the goal of moving him to guard in his rookie season.

But with the Cowboys having invested a second-round pick in 2011 in Carter, it seems the team is trying to move on from him.

“I think this guy was exceptional, instinctively and he certainly was exceptional with his speed and as fast as Carter is,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said of Shazier, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash. “(Carter is) not that fast. Those combinations of things, probably give you more playmaking ability.”

Jones said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could have used Shazier with middle linebacker Sean Lee and as a solid 1-2 combo. Henry Melton, who plays the three-technique defensive tackle spot, would have protected the weakside linebacker in a sense to make plays one-on-one.

The reality is the Cowboys wanted to replace Carter with a highly-regarded first-round pick. Carter endured some injuries and was benched last season for veteran Ernie Sims. Carter had to get used to changing schemes, 3-4 to 4-3 and move to the weakside linebacker spot.

Carter’s speed was thought to be an asset -- especially in pass coverage -- yet he struggled in that area at times last season.

“The ideal thing is to have Carter come on and be what he wants to be and what we want him to be,” Jones said. “And we hit right on the money here if we get the kinda guy we want out here.”
Getting drafted by an NFL team is a dream for, if not all, by many players.

When the Cowboys selected Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon in the seventh round on Saturday afternoon, the emotion flowed.

Dixon couldn’t talk to Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett because he was too emotional.

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Which Cowboys draft pick are you most excited about?

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“We did communicate back with him,” Jones said. “I didn’t, but that was one of the most, that really, somewhere, somehow, made me appreciate being in the NFL. How in the world do you get to sit here and be lucky enough to be having a conversation, it means that much to him, they’re that emotional about it, celebrating going on in behind and literally having an emotional reaction to getting to be a part of the NFL. I really had an emotional thing along with that. That was unbelievable. He was trying so hard to talk to me.”

After composing himself, Dixon then talked with reporters on a conference call and started crying when talking about getting drafted.

“It feels amazing,” Dixon said to reporters as he fought through tears. “This is the only team I grew up watching as a kid. Watching the Cowboys is pretty much how I learned to play football watching the Cowboys every week. That’s how I learned everything that I learned. It’s a blessing to be a part of this team. My late grandmother – she was a diehard Cowboys fan and I know right now she’s in heaven going crazy. It’s a blessing to me because I’ve been through so much in life. I’ve always been counted out.”

Dixon continued to speak with reporters about growing up in Waco, Texas.

“Growing up as a kid, my life was kind of different,” he said. “I didn’t have the type of life that everybody else had growing up. My parents weren’t the parents that made sure that I had every Jordan [sneaker] that came out. I didn’t have all of the name brand clothes. I didn’t just have the easy way out of it. We lived in all kinds of different houses. We lived in hotels. We lived with my grandmother. There’s a lot that a lot of people just don’t know. It’s been kept quiet for so long and when people tried to judge me based on what I’ve done and not what I’ve been through in life it’s crazy.”

In terms of football, the Cowboys view Dixon as a special-teams player with the goal of possibly challenging to play some safety.

He was a three-year starter at Baylor, compiling 288 career tackles with 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. In 2013, he was a first-team All-Big 12 selection.

“We are really attracted to his traits of being able to run and hit, so you’ll probably see him by nature be more of a down safety type player,” Garrett said. “But he can run, so we’re certainly going to give him a chance.”

Jerry Jones gives Will McClay an 'A'

May, 11, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- While he didn’t speak with reporters during the three days of the NFL draft, Will McClay’s name was mentioned quite a bit.

McClay, the Cowboys' assistant director of player personnel, was given the task of putting the draft board together and making sure the coaches and scouts were on the same page in terms of personnel.

And the man who makes the final call on all things Cowboys, Jerry Jones, gave McClay the highest grade possible for his work.

“From organizing the initial days, from the Senior Bowl all the way to the combine, the organization of the board, coordination with the coaches – I’m going over all that because I’ll break it down – and I couldn’t give him anything but an 'A' in every respect,” Jones said. “We all know how smart he is, but he’s got a unique perspective. He’s been around this game long enough. It really came to bear in that room. He made a significant, really a significant contribution to this being a success.”

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Which Cowboys draft pick are you most excited about?

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The Cowboys made significant changes to how they approach the draft from creating Pods so coaches and scouts can discuss prospective draft picks to McClay putting the draft board together and allowing Tom Ciskowski, who previously did it, the ability to do more scouting.

The Cowboys made smart football decisions over the three days from bypassing quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was the top-rated player at the time of their selection at No. 16, to selecting Zack Martin, a tackle, who was the best player available.

In a draft where defense was needed, the Cowboys used all five of their seventh-round picks on defense. Upgrades to the defensive line were achieved when the team snagged defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the second round and in Rounds 4 and 7 when Anthony Hitchens (fourth round) and Will Smith (seventh round) were selected to upgrade the inside linebacker spots.

Stephen Jones said despite giving up a third-round pick to move up in the second to draft Lawrence, it was worth it because the Cowboys picked up wide receiver Devin Street from Pittsburgh, considered one of the top receivers on their board.

There were little debates about players, and the Cowboys bypassed an opportunity to draft an offensive lineman in the middle rounds.

You could attribute the success of the draft to McClay and his staff.

“That may be his best trait,” Jones said. “He’s got great people skills. Everybody’s comfortable with him, but yet he’s real articulate. You understand clearly what he’s asking and what he’d like to get done. You put all that together and he did a great job. He had these coaches operating full bore as far as what they were doing, what he wanted of them. He coordinated.”

IRVING, Texas -- Demarcus Lawrence grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, and while there wasn’t a NFL team in the city, there was just one pro team to root for: the Dallas Cowboys.

When asked why the Cowboys are his favorite team, Lawrence said simply, “my dad. He’s the head of the household and somebody can’t stay in this house unless they are a Cowboys fan.”

Lawrence and his family got their wish when the Cowboys traded up in the second round to grab him with the 34th overall pick.

The Cowboys ranked Lawrence as the third best right defensive end in the draft behind No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina and UCLA’s Anthony Barr, who went to Minnesota at No. 9 overall.

“I felt like the Cowboys liked me a lot, but in the draft you never know where they’re going to go,” Lawrence said. “I’m just thanking God for everything and thinking Jerry (Jones) and the staff for trusting me.”

Despite only two seasons at Boise State, Lawrence was a playmaker. In 23 starts at Boise State, Lawrence had 20 sacks, 34 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

For his efforts last season, he earned a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection.

The Cowboys like his pass-rush skills and the potential to replace DeMarcus Ware as the right defensive end. Lawrence played both end spots in college, but he's more suited as the pass-rusher in the Cowboys 4-3 scheme.

"I know it's some big shoes to fill, but I'm going to work my butt off and give it my all," he said. "I'm going to do all I can do to become the best and fill those shoes."
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel told Pro Football Talk Live on Thursday that it would be cool to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

There are several mock drafts, ESPN's Todd McShay's and NFL Network's Mike Mayock, that have the Cowboys selecting Manziel in the first round.

Manziel
The Cowboys, with the No. 16 overall pick, have needs along the defense and general manager Jerry Jones said this week that he doesn't want to draft a quarterback to sit behind Tony Romo for one or two seasons.

Still, the possibility of drafting Manziel has raised speculation about the Cowboys' thought process.

"I mean anything is possible," Manziel said on Pro Football Talk Live. "I think all 32 teams are in play, you never know. Some of these teams, they’ve done way wackier things than that. For me it would really, really cool to go there, but not something I have stuck in my head. Jerry Jones has been extremely nice to me. He’s treated me very, very well and we’ve developed a little bit of a friendship over the past year and a half, just going to games or whatever it be."

Manziel has attended sporting events at AT&T Stadium, where he's met Jones. Manziel has also hung out with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant recently, so there is a mutual respect from members in the organization, whether's its somebody in the front office to one of the players.

But it doesn't guarantee the Cowboys will draft Manziel.

"I went to A&M, redshirted, and sat behind [Ryan] Tannehill and learned a lot," Manziel said. "There’s guys that [have] been in the league and know a lot more than I know going in. If I need to sit and learn from them for a year or whatever the case may be, then I’m openly willing to do that if that’s what’s best for the team. That’s all I care about."
The NFL draft being pushed from late April to May has forced NFL teams to make some changes.

The front office has more time to study players, but the coaches will now have to cram in their work with the rookies.

The Dallas Cowboys normally bring rookies into their facility the week after the draft for a rookie minicamp. But with the draft pushed back, those rookies will be at Valley Ranch on Monday, May 12, two days after the event is over.

Last year, the Cowboys moved the rookie minicamp back to give the rookies and themselves times to get prepared.

“We’ll have a tighter winder than what it’s been,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We anticipate a big group of guys coming to our facility after the draft.”

NFL teams also had problems getting some prospects into their facilities to begin workouts after the draft because of a rule that states a player’s last college semester must be completed.

Garrett said some of those rules might change with the draft being pushed back.

“Well, I think one thing the draft has done is enable our coaching staff to put a little more time into it,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We’ve got three former head coaches (Bill Callahan, Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli) on our staff who have been in draft rooms, and it’s always good to get their input as to what they’ve done in their particular organizations. But more than anything, they’ve been able to spend some time on it. I think that’s been very helpful in terms of getting on the page with the way our personnel department, the way our scouts see it and the work they’ve done, 12 months worth of work, I think that’s very helpful. You just get to do more diligence.”
In three seasons, Jason Garrett is just a .500 coach.

His football team has finished 8-8 in all three of his seasons running the Dallas Cowboys on the football field.

But the man, or men, running the football team in the front office might have failed him.

Free agency and the draft are where NFL teams build for the present and the future and in three seasons Garrett has seen 22 draft picks come through his office at Valley Ranch.

He’s got two Pro Bowlers, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray, and four full-time starters, Travis Frederick, Bruce Carter, Smith and Murray.

Garrett has received solid contributors in 2011 sixth-round pick Dwayne Harris as a returner and disappointments in 2012 first-round pick Morris Claiborne and 2012 fourth-round pick Matt Johnson.

There is potential in 2012 draft picks Tyrone Crawford (third round) and Kyle Wilber (fourth round). Last season, third-round pick J.J. Wilcox and sixth-rounder DeVonte Holloman flashed signs they can play in the NFL, but we need to see more.

As Garrett enters the final year of his contract, the only possible way he receives guaranteed employment from the Cowboys in 2015 is to make the postseason.

The man, or men, running the draft need to make sure Garrett gets impact players among his picks this year, more than ever before.

Jerry Jones, the general manager, is the final decision-maker for the Cowboys and doesn’t shy away from letting people know. But Jones has help in making these decisions, and while the Cowboys received come flak for trading down in last year’s draft to eventually get Frederick, who produced a solid rookie season, 2014 can’t have major failures.

Picking at No. 16 overall is an interesting spot for the Cowboys. They’re in need of help along the defensive line, but free-agency moves have improved that part of group.

Yet, upgrades along the interior of the offensive line, secondary and wide receiver are also of interest. Finding a young No. 2 quarterback in the middle-to-late rounds is also something worth considering.

A defensive player has been taken at No. 16 in four of the last five NFL drafts. Buffalo selected quarterback EJ Manuel last year.

Would the Cowboys invest in a quarterback at No. 16?

No.

A defensive player such as Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan? Yes.

Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence from Boise State? Yes.

Safety Calvin Pryor from Louisville? Yes.

All possibilities for the Cowboys.

Whatever the Cowboys do on Thursday night, the player Jones settles on better start in Year 1. The player Jones settles on in Round 2 has to make an impact in Year 1.

If these things don’t happen, Garrett won’t have another season to go 8-8.

In fact, 2014 won’t even end that well.

Beyond the first round: Tight ends

April, 30, 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 be a 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 beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at tight ends.

[+] EnlargeJace Amaro
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY SportsTexas Tech's Jace Amaro caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.
Second round -- Jace Amaro (Texas Tech): Amaro set a FBS record for most receiving yards in a single-season by a tight end with 1,352. While the Cowboys have an elite tight end in Jason Witten and quite possibly a receiving type tight end in Gavin Escobar, Amaro might be a nice find. He did have an incident in the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl when he was ejected for throwing a punch. He’s very good at getting down the field (4.7 40-yard dash) and making plays in man coverage.

Third round -- C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa): Scouts say he makes catches in traffic and fights for yards. Scouts like his ability to catch passes away from his body and that he can absorb contact. A very tough player who is quick and athletic enough to block to the second level.

Fourth round – Arthur Lynch (Georgia): A 2013 team captain. He’s quick enough to get into position and is solid at locking onto a defender to block. He does a nice job of getting down field to make himself an open target, but he’s not fast.

Fifth round – Jake Murphy (Utah): His dad is seven-time MLB all-star Dale Murphy. He impressed scouts with his ability to make catches with defenders on him and over the middle. He handles contact when hit but is an inconsistent blocker. He does have good size, 6-4, 249 pounds, for a player at his position.

Sixth round – A.C. Leonard (Tennessee State): He transferred from Florida where he encountered some off-the-field issues. Has good size and speed and displayed some strength. Yet, plays inconsistent. Could be a good special teams player in his rookie year with the ability earn playing time on offense in his second season.

Seventh round -- Jordan Najvar (Baylor): He was a Big 12 honorable mention in 2013. His stats aren’t impressive because he was mainly used as a blocker in their pass-happy offense. Najvar might be a late round or undrafted free-agent signee. He improved his bench press between the combine and his pro day, lifting 225 pounds 18 times at the combine to 20 times at his pro day.

Beyond the first round: Wide receivers

April, 29, 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 beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at wide receivers.

[+] EnlargeLSU
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesJarvis Landry had 77 catches for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for LSU.
Second round -- Jarvis Landry (LSU): He does not possess the physical skills of his LSU teammate, Odell Bekcham Jr., but he has the tools to be successful for a long time in the NFL. He had 77 catches for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. He is not a true burner, but he can create separation and make big plays.

Third round -- Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt): Like Landry, he is not a burner, but he has versatility. He can play outside, which is what the Cowboys need, and he can play the slot. He caught 112 passes for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. He has a knack for getting open in all kinds ways.

Fourth round -- Josh Huff (Oregon): Like Matthews, he can play inside and out. The Cowboys have been linked to him since the Senior Bowl where he displayed terrific body control in making some difficult catches. He is strong after the catch and will not shy away from contact. He caught 62 passes for 1,140 yards and 12 scores.

Fifth round -- Paul Richardson (Colorado): He is a playmaker with a game similar to DeSean Jackson. In a spread field, he can make plays, but his frame (178 pounds) makes him something of a question mark when it comes to press coverage. He missed the 2012 season with a knee injury but rebounded with a school record 1,343 yards in 2013.

Sixth round -- Mike Davis (Texas): He worked out for the Cowboys at Dallas Day. He had better production as a junior but can some of that be attributed to the poor quarterback play? He can make the difficult catches and showed he would be a willing blocker at times. He has a lot of room to grow but the athletic ability to get there.

Seventh round -- Tevin Reese (Baylor): Baylor has put out a number of solid receivers in recent year, and the Cowboys grabbed one in Terrance Williams last year. Reese does not possess the size you’d want, which makes him vulnerable to press coverage, but it is hard to argue with his numbers. He was limited to nine games in 2013 with wrist injury but still had eight touchdown catches, averaging 22.8 yards per catch.
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 beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at inside linebackers.

Second round -- Chris Borland (Wisconsin): He could go late in the first round, but with the Cowboys solid in the middle with Sean Lee, getting Borland could be a smart move given Lee's health history. Borland is a downhill run stopper and does a nice job of shedding blocks. He plays out of control sometimes, but teams love his aggressiveness to the ball. He doesn't back down from any challenge.

Third round -- Shayne Skov (Stanford): A hamstring injury prevented him from running the 40 at his pro day, but he did lift and he benched pressed 225 pounds 20 times. Skov said he wanted to get to 30. He can play in a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme. Skov, who was a team captain at Stanford, has a high energy level but made an interesting decision to not attend the Senior Bowl. Skov is a solid tackler who doesn't miss many ball carriers. Louisville's Preston Brown is also a nice fit for this round.

Fourth round -- Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut): An interesting prospect who could go maybe in the second round, depending on how he fits certain schemes. Scouts are still trying to determine how fast he is. He's posted a 5.01 40 but injured his hamstring at the combine and didn't run it at his pro day. He's got good upper body strength and balance to handle tight ends and running backs.

Fifth round -- Max Bullough (Michigan State): He played better in 2012 than he did last season. A two-time team captain, he's a third-generation Bullough to attend Michigan State. His weight fluctuated from the end of the season to the East West Shrine game to the combine. It's listed at 249 pounds. He does a good job of diagnosing run plays and gets in the backfield. Sometimes he overreacts to the play-action pass and gets out of position.

Sixth round -- Brock Coyle (Montana): Impressed the scouts at his pro day when he measured in at 6-0 and 3/4 inches and 235 pounds. Displayed 40 times of 4.60 and 4.64 and benched 225 pounds 25 times. Last season, the co-captain averaged 9.6 tackles per game and ranked ninth in the nation in forced fumbles at .33 a game. According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Coyle had visits with the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

Seventh round -- Avery Williamson (Kentucky): He might go in the sixth considering where previous linebackers from his school, Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard, have gone, late in the draft. He played through a strained ligament for the bulk of the 2013 season which hampered his tackling skills. When totally healthy, he's a solid tackler. Williamson is very good at the point of attack and doesn't back down from ball carriers.

Beyond the first round: Cornerbacks

April, 24, 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 beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at cornerbacks.


Second round -- Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech): He's an athletic prospect with good speed. A team captain with strong coverage skills. He gambles from time-to-time, but Scouts Inc., says he rarely gets rattled. He does a nice job of tracking the ball in the air and understands the difference between playing the ball and his man.

Third round -- Bradley Roby (Ohio State): Off the field issues are dominating what he can do on the field. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery following a bar altercation in Bloomington, Indiana, last summer. He struggled at the combine, where he walked away from a three-cone drill. He missed the Orange Bowl with a bone bruise. When he plays, he gambles but has good off man and zone coverage skills.

Fourth round -- Stan Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska): He’s part of a new wave of corners, big and physical who might be gone before this round. He nearly matches Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in terms of measureables. His 40-yard dash was one-hundredth off from Sherman’s combine time of 4.61. Jean-Baptiste has good hands, hard to control in tight spaces.

Fifth round -- Jason Verrett (TCU): Cowboys are very interested in Verrett, but he’s got health issues. He played 2013 with a torn labrum, which was surgically repaired after his March 21 pro day. The previous season he suffered a torn meniscus in his knee. When healthy he’s a solid player with excellent change of direction skills and can stay with most fast receivers.

Sixth round -- Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State): Joyner visited the Cowboys as one of their national visits. A durable player who played in 55 games and started 41 in his final three seasons at Florida State. Smart player who makes adjustments quickly and plays well in zone coverage.

Seventh round -- Pierre Desire (Lindenwood): Cowboys like small school players and he fits. Good size, athleticism and leaping combination. He attacks the ball in the air, something the Cowboys defensive coaches want their corners to do more often. Desire has natural ball skills, but there are questions about the type of competition he faced. Some team might take a shot on him and select him in the middle rounds because of his upside.

Brandon Magee impresses Cowboys

April, 30, 2013
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At the end of last year's NFL draft, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones announced the signing of undrafted free agent guard Ronald Leary from Memphis. The Cowboys guaranteed $214,000 to Leary with the hope he would make the 53-man roster out of camp.

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Leary didn't, instead playing on the practice squad for the bulk of the season until the Cowboys had to promote him to the 53-man roster after the Oakland Raiders put in a claim for him.

Leary improved as the season progressed and again has a shot to make the 53-man roster in 2013.

Fast-forward to this year when the Cowboys signed undrafted linebacker Brandon Magee over the weekend. Magee received a $70,000 signing bonus, more than any seventh-round pick from last year's draft.

The Cowboys were interested in drafting Magee in the middle rounds, but his size (5-foot-11, 229 pounds) and health (he injured his elbow in Arizona State's bowl game) made selecting him a risky proposition. However, the Cowboys were impressed with his 113 total tackles last season at Arizona State, which earned him second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Magee is completely healthy, according to his agent, Blake Baratz, and looking forward to next week's rookie minicamp.

The Cowboys project Magee as a strongside or weakside linebacker because of his speed (4.68-second 40-yard dash at Arizona State's pro day) and ability to make plays on the ball.

Some NFL teams were a little scared off by Magee's baseball ambitions. The Boston Red Sox own his rights, but Magee's desire is to play in the NFL.

The Cowboys are looking for good fits in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense, and once they find someone, Jones will make sure he spends the money to grab him, much like he did with Leary.

This year's pet project, if you will, is Magee, who will have to play well on special teams and on the defense with the backup units to make the roster.

Will Travis Frederick pay off for Cowboys?

April, 30, 2013
4/30/13
11:33
AM ET


Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discuss whether Travis Frederick will prove to be the right pick for the Dallas Cowboys.

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