Dallas Cowboys: Orlando Scandrick

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • What I would do with the 16th pick in the draft if I was the general manager.
  • What about a quarterback in the second round?
  • What about Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne?
  • What about the salary-cap implications of letting Kyle Orton go?

Away we go:
 

Dominik calls CB a 'hidden' Cowboys need

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
12:30
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IRVING, Texas -- ESPN Insider Mark Dominik was the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13.

He spent 19 years with the Buccaneers and his time coincided with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin. He knows what they want in draft prospects, so it was interesting to note that Dominik has cornerback among the Cowboys’ hidden draft needs in this Insider piece. Insider

Here’s what he said:
Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback
The Cowboys have acquired three cornerbacks of note over the past two years in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and B.W. Webb, so this might not look like a need area if you just skim through Dallas' depth chart (especially given their issues at other positions). But there is a real concern about the play of Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, and if they don't think they can get him straightened out, the Cowboys will need to add another corner in order to hold up in pass defense against their NFC East rivals.


He did not mention Orlando Scandrick, who was the Cowboys’ best cornerback in 2013. Earlier Tuesday, Calvin Watkins said the Cowboys need more from Carr, who received a five-year, $50 million deal from the club two years ago. Webb was mostly lost as a rookie and lost his job late in the season to Sterling Moore. Dominik correctly points out the thoughts on Claiborne, who is entering his biggest seasons.

But I wonder just how high the Cowboys would select a cornerback considering how much they have invested in Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne with picks and money. Would they go after the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby or Justin Gilbert?

TCU’s Jason Verrett is scheduled to visit with the team during the Dallas Day, but he is coming off shoulder surgery. Does he fit what Marinelli wants from corners?

The draft is not just about 2014. It is about the future as well. Scandrick’s re-worked deal late last season all but guarantees he will be around in 2015. The Cowboys have not restructured Carr’s contract, in part, because it would make it more possible to release him after this season if he does not find his 2012 form. Claiborne is signed through 2015 with a team option for 2016, but if he does not improve significantly this season then it would seem unlikely the Cowboys would exercise it.

So maybe drafting a cornerback, even early, makes sense after all.
IRVING, Texas – For a variety of reasons the Dallas Cowboys need their cornerback trio of Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne to play better in 2014.

One reason is the addition of DeSean Jackson to the Washington Redskins.

We documented Jackson’s efforts against the Cowboys while with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s scored just one touchdown against the Cowboys and averaged 3.5 catches a game in the regular season.

Maybe things become a little different now that he is with the Redskins. He will have a first-time head coach in Jay Gruden, who loved to throw it when he was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. He has Robert Griffin III trying to recapture the magic of his rookie season. He has Pierre Garcon, who lit up the Cowboys, and free-agent pickup Andre Roberts.

Carr struggled badly with Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) in the second meeting of the season last year at FedEx Field so much that Scandrick moved in late in the game when the defense made a stop. Roberts has played twice against the Cowboys with the Arizona Cardinals and has two 100-yard games.

He caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 27-26 win in 2010 and six passes for 111 yards in the Cardinals’ 19-13 overtime win.

New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will have to blend what Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne do well into the scheme better than last year’s coordinator, Monte Kiffin. Carr and Claiborne have to play better to give Marinelli options.

Chat recap: Cowboys can't bank on health

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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IRVING, Texas -- We had a nice spirited chat for about an hour on Wednesday in which we touched on many subjects.

Click here to go through all of the questions, but the highlights are:
But there was one subject I wanted to touch on a little more.

Rico (Jersey): Yo Todd, what can the 'Boys do to help with the amount of injured players they seem to have every year?

Todd Archer: Well, hope to have better luck would be one way. To me it was a little disconcerting to hear Stephen Jones say the Cowboys will be better on defense in 2014 than 2013 because they will be healthier. Will they? I thought injuries were the reason they were bad in 2013 and they would be better in 2013 because of it? You can't bank on health. The Cowboys will have 8-10 players hurt this year again and will have to deal with it by getting more players.

Now if I can go a little deeper here. Few things infuriated fans more last year than the high number of injuries. Or the supposed high number of injuries. The Cowboys had 12 players suffer a hamstring strain during last season, which was near the top of the league.

I get asked what the Cowboys can do to prevent injuries, and I just don't think there is an answer. They have a nutritionist that works on their diets. They go through all of the proper protocols in their strength and conditioning program. Their athletic trainers are considered among the best in the NFL. Could things be tweaked or changed some? Sure. But I don't know that there is some sort of revolutionary training technique the Cowboys can use to assure themselves that injuries will not happen.

When Bill Parcells coached, injuries were down, in part I believe, because players feared being hurt under Parcells. They might have had an ache or a pain, but they wouldn't let that stop them from getting on the field. Sometimes that can be a detriment, of course, but it builds a toughness to a team.

As I said in my answer it is disconcerting to hear Stephen Jones say the Cowboys will be better on defense in 2014 because they will be healthier. Injuries cost Rob Ryan his job after the 2012 season. Injuries earned Monte Kiffin a promotion (wink, wink) in 2014.

Hoping players will be healthy is not the smartest way to go about building a roster. Will the Cowboys lose so many defensive linemen in 2013? Probably not, but what if that injury bug hits the offensive line? They lost linebackers Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims and DeVonte Holloman at different points last season. What if they lose Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church this season?

Every time the Cowboys have talked about injuries since the season ended, they prefaced their comments with, "It's not an excuse, but …" And it's not an excuse, but every team has injuries. The good teams persevere and move on. The good teams' next-man-up philosophy works because they have quality depth.

Quality depth is brought about with solid drafting and good free agency work in an offseason over the course of time.

It just seems like the Cowboys approach to injuries is always a glass half-full when it should be a glass half-empty so they are prepared for the inevitable rash of injuries that can make or break a season.

How a Jackson move would affect Cowboys

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
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IRVING, Texas -- It certainly sounds as if DeSean Jackson has played his last game for the Philadelphia Eagles. What would it mean for the Dallas Cowboys?

Jackson has had his moments against the Cowboys. In his first game against the Cowboys in 2008, he caught six passes for 110 yards and would have had a 61-yard touchdown if he hadn't dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. In 2010, he caught four passes for 210 yards and had a touchdown.

Those are the only two 100-yard receiving games Jackson has had in the regular season against the Cowboys and that is the only touchdown he has against the Cowboys.

In the two meetings in 2013, Jackson caught six passes for 49 yards. He has had three or fewer catches in six of the 10 regular-season meetings of NFC East rivals.

The Cowboys might not be sad to see Jackson go -- if he goes -- but they have done a good job keeping him in check, especially Orlando Scandrick.

Now if the Eagles wanted to get rid of LeSean McCoy, then the Cowboys would be really happy.

Jared Allen option not likely now

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
9:15
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Allen
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' search for defensive line help is not over with the addition of Henry Melton, but their push for Jared Allen will not be quite as intense, according to sources.

Allen wrapped up a visit with the Cowboys on Tuesday before they agreed to a deal with Melton.

Allen would be the Cowboys’ best defensive end, but at what price? He has had seven straight seasons with at least 11 sacks, but he turns 32 in April and the Cowboys were not willing to pay a hefty price for DeMarcus Ware or Julius Peppers.

With Ware and Jason Hatcher gone, George Selvie is the leading returning sacker from 2013 with seven. Jeremy Mincey, who signed a two-year deal worth a maximum of $4.5 million last week, had two sacks with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos in 2013. Kyle Wilber, DeVonte Holloman, Bruce Carter and Orlando Scandrick had two sacks apiece for the Cowboys.

Allen has also visited with the Seattle Seahawks.

With Tony Romo, Cowboys not rebuilding

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
3:03
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IRVING, Texas -- Earlier today my guy, Calvin Watkins, brought you a post that says the Dallas Cowboys are rebuilding.

I don’t want to say Calvin is wrong, but, well, um, well, I don’t agree with that premise.

Romo
It’s not a rebuild the Cowboys are going through. And if you want to call it a rebuilding job, what exactly are they rebuilding from? They have won one playoff game since 1996. Teams that rebuild at least go to conference title games or Super Bowls -- and win Super Bowls.

I just don’t think you rebuild when you have a franchise quarterback that will turn 34 in April and is only in the second year of a six-year extension.

What the Cowboys have done the last few years -- and I wrote about it -- is re-tool. The departures of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher are more evidence that the Cowboys are re-tooling. With Tony Romo, the Cowboys still need to win now. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said as much at the NFL scouting combine.

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He doesn’t have time to wait three or four years to rebuild with Romo as his quarterback.

What the Cowboys are doing is changing their core. While Romo and Jason Witten are still the focal points of the team because of their play, status and production, the core of the team has moved on from guys like Ware, Jeremiah Ratliff, Austin, Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo, Bradie James and Terence Newman in recent years to newer players.

The core now is Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams and Barry Church. They would love guys like Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford and Gavin Escobar to join this list but they have not proven they can play yet.

The Cowboys have to maximize what they have left with Romo and Witten but not to the point where they are left in salary-cap shambles for when the “new guard” is in their prime.

Rebuilding, to me, is starting over. The Cowboys aren’t going to start over with Romo and Witten and they’re not exactly moving back to ground zero either.

What they are doing does not guarantee success or even something better than 8-8, but they are in the process of passing the torch, so to speak.

Sources: Ware decision could come quickly

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
10:33
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IRVING, Texas -- The working relationship between the Dallas Cowboys and DeMarcus Ware could be decided by the time free agency begins Tuesday, according to sources.

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According to a source, the Cowboys have been negotiating with Ware on a reworked contract after the team let the seven-time Pro Bowler know last week they want him back in 2014, but not at the $12.25 million base salary.

The free-agent market opens at 3 p.m. CT Tuesday. Teams and agents have been able to talk about interest and parameters since Saturday, but players have not been able to talk directly to clubs or set up visits.

Whether the Cowboys release Ware or reach an agreement on a new contract, they will gain salary-cap space. By cutting Ware, the Cowboys would gain $7.4 million in cap space.

But the Cowboys do not need to cut Ware to get under the cap. After restructuring three deals (Tony Romo, Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick), reducing one (Mackenzy Bernadeau) and releasing Phil Costa last week, the Cowboys are roughly $2 million under the cap.

While that is enough to sign a player to a reasonable deal, it is not enough to help fill multiple holes on a defense that finished last in the NFL in 2013. It would not be enough to keep last year's sack leader, Jason Hatcher, who is expected to receive heavy interest from teams in free agency.

Ware's camp would like a quick decision so that if he is cut, he would be able to hit the open market when teams have the most money to spend.

Ware's 117 career sacks are the most in franchise history, and he earned Pro Bowl honors from 2006 to 2012, but posted a career-low six sacks in 2013. Ware, who turns 32 in July, missed three games with a quadriceps strain and was bothered by a nerve issue in his elbow that required surgery after the season.

At the NFL scouting combine, executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys would be efficient spenders in free agency. In the past, they have set the markets on players -- like cornerback Brandon Carr, who received a five-year, $50 million deal in 2012 -- only to not get enough payoff on the deals.

With Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith nearing the end of their contracts, the Cowboys want to have enough cap room to keep their two young Pro Bowl performers.

Cap space won't create enough room

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
1:00
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The Dallas Cowboys will get under the $133 million salary cap by March 11 -- which isn't a big deal because every NFL team gets under the cap.

The restructured contracts of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick and releasing a few other players allows that to happen.

But don't get too excited.

The Cowboys won't have enough money to snag a major free agent or retain one of their own with the space that's left. The Cowboys will have $11.8 million in dead money to deal with in 2014 in addition to trying to upgrade the talent base through the draft, potential new contracts for Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith and the ability to maintain space to sign free agents during the season are the major reasons.

Last season, the Cowboys didn't have a lot of money to sign a high-priced free agent. The team signed mid-level players such as Justin Durant and Will Allen in free agency only to release Allen two months into the season, and Durant dealt with injuries for a bulk of the season until being placed on injured reserve.

This year the Cowboys' biggest free agent need is the defensive line, but it appears the draft will solve those needs. However, Jason Hatcher, the defensive tackle, becomes a free agent and the team won't franchise him at $9.6 million. Hatcher will test the market and he said at the end of the season he wanted to sign with the highest bidder.

That won't be the Cowboys.

Yet, the Cowboys can get an additional $5.5 million in savings if they release wide receiver Miles Austin and designate him a post-June 1 cut. But the Cowboys won't receive that savings until after June 1.

So while it's good the Cowboys will get under the cap and get space, becoming a player in free agency, major free agency, isn't happening.

Sorting through Cowboys' draft needs

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
1:00
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IRVING, Texas -- As Jerry Jones spoke on his bus from the NFL scouting combine recently, you could hear the Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager go through a checklist when talking about draft needs.

He said drafting a corner “could be stacking it up,” too much with Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. He said tight end would not be a position of need with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. He said “not necessarily” wide receiver, either. The Cowboys like DeMarco Murray a lot, but “that doesn’t mean we won’t bring in another potentially very competitive running back in at all.” He said a strongside linebacker would not be much of a need because of its lack of importance in the 4-3. He mentioned liking what they have at safety but would not rule out a draft pick.

What does it all mean in early March? Not much.

The question was about drafting solely defensive players considering how much help the Cowboys need on that side of the ball.

“We’ve got to be careful foregoing a really top offensive lineman,” Jones said. “I’d head scratch about that, all things equal, same quality.”

The follow-up question was specifically about defensive line help.

“It’s certainly where we were almost bankrupt last year in terms of what we had personnel wise,” Jones said. “As you’ve noted and I’ve mentioned, I thought that was our strength going into the season. And by the way, I was up here talking to Monte Kiffin earlier and Monte was talking about how [Anthony] Spencer, how we were doing with [Jay] Ratliff not out there, but how well we were playing at Oxnard in that defensive front. That was without Tyrone Crawford, who got hurt the first day. Still we were creating some havoc out there and we, of course, really lost that. But that is certainly an area of need. I’m not being evasive, but don’t discount a good offensive lineman that is high on your board.”

That was twice Jones mentioned an offensive lineman. The Cowboys have hit on their past two first-round picks on the offensive line in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick after not previously drafting one in the first round in the Jones era.

Just something to note.

Cowboys release four players

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys released defensive linemen Corvey Irvin and Everette Brown and offensive linemen Ray Dominguez and Jeff Olson on Friday, freeing up less than $1 million against the cap.

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Brown played in seven games last season and had seven tackles in a sack after joining the team on Oct. 29. Irvin joined the Cowboys on Nov. 12 and had five tackles. Dominguez spent last year on the practice squad and was signed to a futures’ deal after the season ended. Olson suffered a concussion in training camp.

The Cowboys will have more work to do to get under the 2014 salary cap, which is projected at $133 million, but will be able to take care of most of that with restructuring of contracts, like those of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick. The biggest decision will be in relation to DeMarcus Ware, who is set to count $16 million against the cap.

Increased cap only helps Cowboys a little

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys stand to benefit with the NFL’s 2014 salary cap expected to be about $130 million, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, but it won’t change their free agency plan.

The Cowboys would need to trim close to $20 million from their cap by March 11, and executive vice president Stephen Jones said the club has various paths to do the job.

Carr
Witten
But in getting to that point, Jones made it sound like the Cowboys will perhaps choose more wisely on what contracts they restructure than they have in the past.

“I think the bigger question is what it does to your future as well in getting there,” Jones said, referring to getting under the cap.

Three players are prime candidates to get their contracts restructured. Tony Romo and Sean Lee will get their contracts done because that is how they were structured. Orlando Scandrick is the other. Those three moves would gain the Cowboys roughly $17.8 million in space.

Age is the biggest factor. Romo turns 34 in April, but the Cowboys cannot get under the cap without re-working his contract. As always, there are different roles for quarterbacks.

“Obviously we’ve got some high-priced players, and anytime you have a high-priced quarterback then you’re going to start getting pressures on your salary cap when you start paying one player a sixth of your salary cap,” Jones said.

Lee turns 28 in July. Scandrick just turned 27 this month.

The Cowboys could gain roughly $5 million in space by re-working the contract of cornerback Brandon Carr. He does not turn 28 until May, but the Cowboys have to decide if it would be worth it. Do they want to push more money out against the cap on Carr, which would make it difficult to cut him in 2015 should he struggle again in 2014.

By re-working the contract of tight end Jason Witten, the Cowboys can gain another $3 million in space, but he is entering the 12th year of his career and turns 32 in May. Is it wise to push money out in the future on him? The same case can be made for quarterback Kyle Orton.

When Jones said Cowboys will be able to do some “efficient” spending in free agency, it means the Cowboys will not be major players in the market. If a player comes to them at their price, then they could look to re-work more contracts later, but they won’t create salary-cap space for the sake of creating salary-cap space.

The Cowboys might be in a “win now” mode, but Jones knows they have to keep their eye on the future when it comes to their salary cap. And they also know spending big in free agency does not guarantee success.

Age not a factor for Cowboys

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
4:10
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Dallas CowboysAP Photo/Tim SharpThe Cowboys have a good core of veterans such as Jason Witten, Tony Romo and Doug Free, but they lack quality backups.


After a third consecutive 8-8 season, you have to say age isn't a factor with the Dallas Cowboys.

The average age for the Cowboys in 2013 was 26.1, and that two veterans who didn't finish the season in Will Allen (31) and Brian Waters (36). In 2012, the Cowboys' average age was 25.9.

Coaching and a lack of quality depth hurt the Cowboys in most cases the last two seasons. You can blame Tony Romo's late interception against Washington in the 2012 regular-season finale or Kyle Orton's pick in the 2013 finale against Philadelphia as other issues.

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But don't say the Cowboys were an old team.

If anything, the Cowboys should rebuild around some young pieces which include Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Dan Bailey and Barry Church.

Core veterans in their 30s such as Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, and other quality vets in their late 20s like Brandon Carr and Doug Free, are worth keeping around.

Finding quality backups is the key for 2014. When you have guys such as Corvey Irvin, Frank Kearse, Jarius Wynn and Everette Brown as backups along the defensive line, it doesn't bode well for success.

The Cowboys have to fix their issues with finding undrafted players who can't play consistently, which was the case with safety Jeff Heath, at key backup positions.

Drafting quality players in the middle rounds should also help the Cowboys. It was something Todd Archer pointed out but the reality is age isn't and shouldn't be a factor for this team.

You can worry about Romo and his age -- 34 when 2014 regular season starts -- and health, recovering from back surgery, but the quarterback has young players to help him move the offense.

Coaching is a problem at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys currently have three -- head coach Jason Garrett, offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and new play caller Scott Linehan -- who have been head coaches and play callers.

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Team officials will say no.

But can these coaches, offense and defense, get the young core of this team to the next level?

If they can't, the numbers of not reaching the postseason will move to five years and counting.

Seattle's best? Picks tell tale over Dallas

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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IRVING, Texas -- Is it too soon or too late to remind Dallas Cowboys fans that Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was drafted 13 spots before the Seattle Seahawks chose Kam Chancellor in the fifth round of the 2010 draft?

Or is too soon or too late remind them that Josh Thomas was picked 11 spots before the Seahawks took Richard Sherman in the fifth round of the 2011 draft?

Today, Chancellor and Sherman are celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Thomas at least made it to the playoffs with the Carolina Panthers as a reserve. Owusu-Ansah was on the Detroit Lions' practice squad last year. Maybe we can ask new Cowboys playcaller (and former Lions offensive coordinator) Scott Linehan how Owusu-Ansah looked.

When a team wins a Super Bowl, we all look for the differences as to why Team X played in the Super Bowl and Team Y didn’t, and we say, "Copy those guys. That’s the way to get it done."

It doesn't work that way. Well, it shouldn't work that way. A team has to have its own philosophy and make it work. Stick with it and hope it pays off. That’s what Jason Garrett has referred to as building a program. It’s maddening to hear, especially after three 8-8 seasons, but there is truth in what Garrett is saying.

The biggest difference between the Seahawks and Cowboys is the draft. Well, that and the Seattle defense. But for this post we’ll stick with the draft.

Since 2010, the Seahawks picked 12 players from the third round and later -- or who were undrafted -- who have crucial roles in the team's success. The Cowboys have DeMarco Murray, a third-rounder in 2011, and three undrafted free agents. I could have counted Dwayne Harris, but the Cowboys actually cut him and needed him to pass through waivers before putting him on the practice squad in 2011.

If the Cowboys had not traded Sean Lissemore before the 2013 season, I would have counted their seventh-round pick in 2010 on the list.

As for undrafted picks, I’ll go with Barry Church (2010), Dan Bailey (2011) and Ronald Leary (undrafted, 2012). I wasn’t ready to say that Kyle Wilber (fourth round, 2012) and/or James Hanna (sixth round, 2012) are crucial to the Cowboys’ success.

In order to win a draft, teams have to be successful in the middle rounds. The Cowboys have not been successful in the middle rounds in years. As a result, they lack depth. When they lose starters, they have to scour the street for help. When the Seahawks lose a player, they plug in a mid- to late-round pick as if nothing ever happened.

If we want to eliminate the third round, which is where Seattle drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012, the Cowboys have to go back to the 2008 draft to find a real hit for the Cowboys in Rounds 4-7: cornerback Orlando Scandrick (fifth). Doug Free (2007) turned into a good fourth-round pick only after the Cowboys were forced to play him in 2009. The golden year was 2005 when the Cowboys got Marion Barber (fourth), Chris Canty (fourth) and Jeremiah Ratliff (seventh) in what was then the second day of the draft.

The Seahawks can point to guys like Sherman, Chancellor, Walter Thurmond (fourth, 2011), Byron Maxwell (sixth, 2011), Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith (seventh, 2011), K.J. Wright (fourth, 2011), Robert Turbin (fourth, 2012), J.R. Sweezy (seventh, 2012), Doug Baldwin (undrafted, 2011) and Jermaine Kearse (undrafted, 2012).

They aren’t merely contributors. They are difference-makers.

If the Cowboys want to alter their "secret sauce" recipe, they can look at the Seahawks' cookbook.

Cowboys position breakdown: DBs

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
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Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer breakdown the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: B.W. Webb, Jakar Hamilton, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, J.J. Wilcox, Orlando Scandrick, Jeff Heath, Brandon Carr, and Barry Church.

A look back: This unit was an overall disappointment. Scandrick (tied for team lead with 13 pass breakups) and Church (team-leading 135 tackles) were the best of the bunch. Claiborne battled through injuries and inconsistent play and has raised questions about whether he was worth being the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Carr started the season strong but slumped badly the last two months of the year. Carr was the main defender during Calvin Johnson's 14-catch, 329-yard performance in an Oct. 27 victory by Detroit. The Cowboys struggled to find a free safety to make plays on the ball from Heath to Wilcox. Depth is a concern so much that Webb, a fourth-round draft pick last spring, was replaced by Moore, a veteran, who was released in training camp. The Cowboys struggled against passers who challenged the secondary deep and that's been a recurring theme the last few seasons.

A look ahead: Scandrick and Carr are the starters with Claiborne the nickle corner. But the Cowboys need Claiborne to either regain the starting role from Scandrick or make more plays on the ball as the No. 3 corner if he can't become a starter again. Carr said he played with confidence during the season, and while that might be true, his play on the field didn't show. Carr has to produce more plays on the ball and even though some teams didn't target him early in the season, that changed in the last few months of the 2013 season. It will be interesting to see if Wilcox can overtake Heath as the starting free safety. Church was solid as a strong safety especially in the open field. Yet, depth was a problem for the Cowboys and Webb needs to prove he can be a NFL corner.

A look out: The Cowboys need to draft a cornerback who has good awareness and ball skills. Creating competition is the best way to get this disappointing unit to improve. Free agency isn't something the Cowboys will look at because of the lack of money to spend in salary cap, so the draft is the best way to go.

Position breakdown:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Tight ends
Wide receivers
Defensive line
Offensive line

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