INDIANAPOLIS – Whatever contract negotiations are to come between Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, they aren’t happening right now, according to team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
“Since Dez changed agents we haven’t had timely or substantive negotiations,” Jones said. “We thought we had something in the middle of the season, early part of the season. That didn’t work out. That’s not a criticism. It just didn’t work out. So from the standpoint from where we are there, we’ll just see.”
Jones spoke about a variety of subjects today (Saturday) during a media session at the NFL Combine – including some lengthy conversation about Bryant’s pending contract situation. The topic has dominated Dallas’ offseason headlines, with Cowboys executives mulling the option of using the franchise tag on the All-Pro receiver, while Bryant has in turn vented frustration about the topic on social media.
If the lack of communication between the Cowboys and one of their top players sounds concerning, though, Jones cautioned against overreaction. Conversations have apparently been limited since Bryant switched representation in November, moving over to RocNation and Tom Condon in favor of Eugene Parker. Despite that, Jones said it’s not uncommon in the world of contract negotiation.
“Contract negotiations are a funny thing. You shouldn’t measure progress by the latest visit or the fact that things are silent,” he said. “It takes two and when an agreement can be reached it can be done in a matter of hours and so you’ve got to be careful measuring any degree of interest any degree of urgency. You can’t measure it like that.”
It’s also worth pointing out that, though he hasn’t spoken with Bryant’s representation, Jones said he has spoken with his Pro Bowl receiver during the week he’s been in Indianapolis and said Bryant is “upbeat.”
“There’s no frustration,” he said. “The facts are, we’ve been communicating with Dez because that happened during the season as well. Parts of it happened during the season. It hasn’t created awkwardness in any way.”
There is at least some kind of urgency in the sense that the Cowboys’ deadline to use their franchise tag is March 2. Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said they were leaning toward franchising Bryant, which would net the receiver a one-year deal worth roughly $13 million.
Going back to November of 2014, Bryant has said before that he’d be “highly disappointed” to be franchised tagged, rather than signed to a long-term deal. For his part, Jerry Jones sounded like he agreed, as the franchise tag would set back his 2015 salary cap much more than a multi-year contract.
“I can tell you I’m not that excited about the franchise tag with Dez simply because I’d like to have our agreement and our business in place for a long time to come with Dez,” he said. “But the franchise is there for a reason and situations like this are what everyone had in mind.”
THE PICKIN’ LATE DEBATE: Position of need vs. best available athlete
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s much harder to prognosticate, and therefore much harder to generate buzz around the No. 27 pick – not that the Cowboys are complaining.
They pick five spots from the end of the draft in 2015 as a result of their wildly successful trip to the second round of the playoffs. As much fun as it can be to speculate on a high draft pick, it typically means the team making that pick isn’t a good one.
Not accounting for draft-day trades, this is as late a first-round pick as the Cowboys have held since 2008, when they were originally slotted for the 28th overall pick after a 13-3 season.
It’s not overly exciting for draft prognostication, because the truly high-profile picks at the Cowboys’ positions of need – Leonard Williams, Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, Dante Fowler, for instance – look to be long gone by the tail end of the draft.
That makes the concept of drafting for need a bit tricky, as Cowboys coach Jason Garrett pointed out on Wednesday.
“I think one of the best thing we have done over the last few years is we have taken the best players,” Garrett said. “Last year was a good example. You can make an argument that we really needed to address the defense in the first round last year. And some of the players we targeted were gone.”
He isn’t wrong. Within just a handful of picks of the Cowboys’ No. 16 spot last spring, Garrett saw highly-coveted defenders like Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr and Ryan Shazier go off the board. The guy the
Cowboys selected wasn’t exactly a big need, though he turned out to be an All-Pro.
“We had a chance to draft Zack Martin. His impact was significant on our team,” Garrett said. “So we have to have discipline to do that. We are still early on in the process, putting the board together. Once we get there we have to make the best decision for our team.”
At No. 27, there’s no guarantee of a “sure thing” at a position of need. But that might actually be a good thing, given the names on hand at the NFL Combine. Specifically in terms of defensive linemen, there might not be a can’t-miss pass rusher within the Cowboys’ range this year, but there won’t be a shortage of options.
Familiarize yourself with the wide spectrum of names – Nate Orchard, Bud Dupree, Eli Harold, Preston Smith. There’s a veritable who’s-who of pass rushers that are universally regarded as good players, though without as much agreement about where they should be selected – or what position they should be playing.
All of the guys listed above, not to mention several others, fall into the all-too-familiar conversation about “tweeners.” As is often the case, so many pass rushers entering the NFL draft in recent years could be molded into either a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 rushing linebacker – depending entirely on the team taking the chance. “I’ve had my hand on the ground for the last 10 years, so I think that’s probably where I’m most comfortable,” Orchard said on Friday. “But a transition to outside linebacker wouldn’t be a problem just because I’ve been dropping into coverage a lot. It’s something I’m used to.”
It almost seems like anything is on the table in that regard. Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers, who is general regarded as about a third-round pick, said he’d feel comfortable bulking up into a larger 4-3 end, or slimming down into a 3-4 scheme. “A couple of teams that play 3-4 was talking to me,” he said. “I said I’m open to standing up, 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 end.”
Is this worth investing a top 30 pick? It’s hard to say. As usual, the option of trading the pick is always there – as the Cowboys have often proven. Barring something unforeseen, though, it’s a reasonable guess they could once again be taking the best player available – even it’s at a puzzling position.
There’s no telling what the Cowboys’ end game is – especially since their draft board isn’t finalized, as Garrett pointed out himself. Odds are it won’t be the same high-profile kind of pick they’ve made in recent years.
Given the options available to them, however, there should be no shortage of interesting routes to take.
2015 NFL COMBINE: Wide Receiver considered a position of depth for draft class
INDIANAPOLIS – The much-anticipated wide receiver workouts are happening today at Lucas Oil Stadium, so lets take a look at what to expect. Several of these guys are already considered first-round talents, but skill position players always have the most to gain from performing well at these drills.
Here are four guys to keep an eye on:
WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami WO #16
Can be physical off the line. Can cover some ground. Smooth runner. Plays out of the slot. Will go get the ball in the air. Will stop to make out cut. Can track the ball. Can easily work through the zone. Puts a ton of pressure on corners. Doesn’t have a quarterback that can get him the ball. Able to adjust to the ball behind him. Can run through tackles. Nice job of getting his toe down, showed some sideline awareness. Adjust to high ball. Will adjust to the low ball on the “IN” cuts. Needs to come back to the ball better in the red zone. Will catch the ball inside. Explosive. Can take small catches and make them huge plays. Has a little Santana Moss in the way he plays. Has a great shot to run the fastest 40 at this Combine.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri WO #19
Will take his route inside. Plays on the outside and in slot. Doesn’t always catch the ball cleanly. Can separate. Smooth athlete, effortless. Will go get the ball. Has some Dez Bryant in him with ball in hands. Will high point ball. Needs work against the press. Too tall at times. Less than perfect as a blocker. One handed catch in the end zone vs. Kentucky (TD). Runs a lot of screen routes. Able to make the first man miss in space. There is a ton of upside there but off the field info has to check out. Could be off a lot of team’s boards but have to give him his due because the talent level is outstanding.
WR DeVante Parker, Louisville WO #35
Quick slant, plant off outside foot and explode inside. Explosive with the ball in his hands. Adjust to the low ball. Able to adjust off the line. Will catch the contested ball. Will come back for the ball. Is a physical runner with the ball in his hands. Needs to go up for the ball in the red zone. Able to run thru tackles. Will catch the ball and take the hit. Will run routes out of the slot. Nice vertical catch vs. Florida State. Is always fighting for extra yards with the ball in his hands. Can adjust to the ball over his head and now down the field. Can work his feet along the sideline. Will carry his route across the field. Knows how to adjust his route to get the ball. Will push off to gain separation. Nice job of finding space in the zone. Will fight to get off the line. Will catch the screen and make things happen. Can keep his balance and fight for the sticks. Will punish as a runner. Can get down the field. Shows the concentration to go get the ball. Physical runner after catch. Kid has some Dez Bryant to him after the catch. Plays with a chip on his shoulder.
WR Kevin White, West Virginia WO #43
Catches the ball in his hands. Will come back to the ball. Run underneath out of the slot. Not quick out of his break. Will put himself in position to catch the ball by squaring up to QB. Do not see a burst down the field. Floats inside on the slant. Will go and high point a ball. Nice fade vs. Alabama. Will track the ball. Can adjust to the ball. Will push off to buy space. Not as impressive with the ball in his hands as Cooper or Parker. Will keep working to get open on a route. Catches plenty of screens. Better at breaking tackles vs. Maryland. Almost came down with a heck of an adjusting catch along the back of the end zone. Ball was too high. Comes back to the ball. Will body catch the ball when coming inside. Did a better job of attacking the defense vs. Maryland. Impressive run on a screen. Did not see much separation on his vertical routes. Can find spots in the zone. Best trait is his ability to go get the ball in flight. More explosive vs. Maryland. Played with chip on shoulder. Aware. Knows where the sticks are on 3rd down. Able to adjust his body in order to catch the ball. Nice spin move to free self vs. OU. Snatch the ball on the slant. Knows how to work along the sideline. Good with his footwork. Adjust to the ball on the screen. Has a hard time running away from White of TCU. Contested catch inside vs. Texas. Bad route on a slant that resulted in INT. Sideline awareness. Generally lines up on the right side of formation. Drew five pass interferences vs. Baylor. Beautiful one hand catch on fade.
Browse ALL of the wide receiver prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft HERE
FRIDAY’S WRAP-UP: Offensive Line and Tight End groups
INDIANAPOLIS – A few observations from yesterday’s (Friday) workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine, which largely featured offensive linemen and tight ends.
If you watched the broadcast of the workouts on the NFL Network, there was plenty of mention of Ali Marpet from Division III Hobert College. The first time I laid eyes on Marpet was earlier in the year at the Senior Bowl. Just in case you missed it – here were the game notes:
- I believe this is the first time during my stint with Dallas Cowboys that I have ever devoted a mention to a player from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, but guard Ali Marpet deserves that. I noticed Marpet was when he was working during the North practice and he was matched up against Washington’s massive defensive tackle Danny Shelton and he was able to hold him off in the one-on-one pass rush drills. At 6-4, 307 he physically doesn’t appear that powerful, but in the game he was able to handle some players with size such as Gabe Wright of Auburn and Joey Mbu of Houston. Where Marpet is able to get these defenders is with his leverage. He does a really nice job of getting his hands inside, then he bends his knees to sit down and this puts him in a leverage position to control. What I liked the best about his game was his ability to finish. There is a nasty side to his game and from his first snap to the last one he was not one bit scared of playing against the bigger school defenders.
Just watching these offensive line workouts, it appears that there are more candidates to line up on the right side than on the left, which could help the Dallas Cowboys in case they have to go that direction. The tackles that worked out well enough to consider on that left side were T.J. Clemmings, Jake Fisher, Laurence Gibson and D.J. Humphries. I wouldn’t be afraid to put anyone of these guys I mentioned on the right side as well.
- Robert Haverstein from Wisconsin, from a numbers standpoint, had a poor workout — but don’t let that fool you. On tape he is a much better player than he tests, which tends to be a trait of those Wisconsin offensive linemen. Remember back when the Travis Frederick basically had the same type of workout here in Indianapolis numbers-wise, but look what he has developed into in just two seasons. These kids can play and Haverstein proved to me that he is no different.
- In talking with some scouts after the tight end workouts, we were kicking around the idea that because of all these spread offenses that we are seeing in college football, the old school, inline blocking “Y” tight ends are becoming a thing of the past. I can remember tight end groups that had at least three to five quality players to evaluate, but I can say that other than Maxx Williams it’s a poor group to select from. If you are just evaluating the numbers, Jesse James of Penn State had the most productive day overall. At 6-7, 261, his 4.83 40-yard time could improve during an on campus workout. The guy I thought was the most natural at catching the ball in the drills was Nick O’Leary of Florida State. His athletic numbers were nothing to get excited about, but I would still like to study the tape and see where that takes me just because of his hands. Wide receiver Devin Funchess from Michigan is a player that most teams might try and move to tight end because of his size (6-4, 232) and if that was the case then it would give the group one of its best athletic players.
- For teams that are looking for an athletic center that could also have some flex to play another position along the offensive line, the player I’d focus on would be Cameron Erving from Florida State. I graded him as an offensive tackle first with the possibility of moving him to center later. After watching his workout at the Combine on Friday, I would go ahead and make that move right now to center. He reminded me size-wise of former Cowboys center / guard Andre Gurode, but with more athletic skill. Both players had that upper body power to hold off rushers and get movement in the running game, but where Erving has him is that ability to snatch that three-technique or get to the outside comfortably on the screen. Ali Marpet, who I mentioned earlier is another player in watching him play during Senior Bowl week and here at the Combine also has a chance to also make that switch center from guard.
- Would you believe me if I told you that receivers Sammie Coates, Geremy Davis, Kevin White had the same number of reps on the bench press (23) as projected first round tackle Brandon Scherff? These receivers also had one more rep than T.J. Clemmings (22) and two more reps than La’el Collins (21), who are also projected to go in the first round. What is strange about this is that when you watch Scherff and Collins play, you see some impressive power especially in their run blocking. It’s the difference between football and weight room strength.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | NFL Analyst/Former NFL scout
Editors note (courtesy NFL Draft Scout via CBS Sports):
- Browse ALL of the OT prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft HERE
- Browse ALL of the OG prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft HERE
- Browse ALL of the C prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft HERE
- Browse ALL of the TE prospects eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft HERE
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: Bonus MP3 Audio Downloads
Jerry Jones Interview: 2015 NFL Combine (Download/Listen) Jerry Jones sits down with Cowboys media on the Cowboys’ bus at the 2015 NFL Combine.
Jason Garrett joins NFL Network show: 2015 NFL Combine (Video link) Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett joins NFL Media’s Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock to talk about his perspective of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
Dallas Cowboys Today: Swagger On Display At The Combine (Download/Listen) Bryan and David recap the highlights of Day-3 at the NFL Combine.
The Draft Show: The NFL Combine – Day 3 (Download/Listen) Bryan, Dane Brugler, and Jeff break down Day-3 of the NFL Combine.
The Draft Show: Final Broadcast From Indianapolis (Download/Listen) Join The Draft Show for their final thoughts on their time spent at the 2015 NFL Combine.