2015-2016 DALLAS COWBOYS: Racing the clock with that heavy rock–The Murray age factor | Running Back options without DeMarco | Young bucks on the NFL Draft board | Free Agent RBs on the market
When Tony Romo sees DeMarco Murray, he sees an NFL rushing champion.
When Jason Garrett sees Murray, he sees an NFL rushing champion.
When agent Pat Dye sees Murray, he sees an NFL rushing champion.
When the Cowboys’ fan base sees Murray, it sees an NFL rushing champion.
But when Stephen Jones sees Murray, he sees a 27-year-old running back. Continue reading →
2015 NFL DRAFT PRIMER: Breaking down defensive gaps | Scouting interior D-line prospects | Top-tier DTs on the board | Marinelli’s Maulers
Looking at different positions in the 2015 NFL Draft, there’s an encouraging pool of talent among interior defensive linemen. They are broken up into five different groups. Certainly, some prospects cross into other groups — depending on the level of versatility — but identifying the player’s No. 1 trait is important. The reason there are no two draft boards alike among the 32 clubs is because of the scheme they play, position requirements, the subjective analysis during the interview process and the traits some teams prioritize. Continue reading →
DALLAS COWBOYS ROSTER UPDATE: Veteran free-agent RB Ryan Williams added for depth | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – This weekend is supposed to be about the evaluation of rookies and first-year players and how they might fit into the roster.
However, the Dallas Cowboys always keep their eyes open for (affordable) available veterans as well. That was evident today when the club worked out running back Ryan Williams, a second-round pick (38th overall) of the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.
THE MARINELLI CONNECTION: Dallas Cowboys sign former first-round DT Amobi Okoye | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent Amobi Okoye, a former first-round pick in 2007, to a two-year deal.
Okoye could possibly give the Cowboys some help at defensive tackle if he can get healthy, something that has been a challenge for the former No. 10 overall pick of the Texans in 2007.
Okoye, born in Nigeria, was drafted when he was just 19 years old. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound tackle became the youngest player to start an NFL game since 1967.
Okoye reunites with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached him two years in Chicago from 2011-12.
Still just 26 years of age, Okoye will likely play the 3-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 scheme.
“We like a lot of things about him. He’s a young player coming out of (Louisville),” Jason Garrett said of Okoye.”He has a lot of talent. Rod was around him in Chicago so we know him well. We think that’s a positive thing. He’s had some health issues the last year … we feel like he has a chance to be a contributor on the line.”
In four years with the Texans, Okoye started 58 of 62 games. He played 25 games in two years with the Chicago Bears but only started once. Out of football in 2013, Okoye might have some position flex at tackle.
“We feel like he has the move to play (3-technique) but he can certainly play the nose,” Garrett said. “We’re not going to rush him into anything. But it’s good to have him in here.”
To make room for Okoye’s spot, the Dallas Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Stewart, who spent time on the practice squad last year.
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH POST DRAFT: Dallas Cowboys scramble to sign priority undrafted free agents | 2014 NFL Draft Prospects
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys added more pieces in the hours and minutes following the conclusion of the 2014 NFL Draft than they did in the three days of the actual event.
No time can be wasted as teams attempt to sign priority undrafted prospects, and the quicker all the players can arrive, the better.
“It’s really pretty interesting logistically…we didn’t know who we drafted until two hours ago,” head coach Jason Garrett said immediately after the draft. “Now we go through the process, what’re the rules of the school, have you finished your exam, have you graduated, you guys on trimester system…We just felt like it’s important to get those guys in here, if we can, to have three bonus days with them before we go into that minicamp next weekend.”
First-round pick Zack Martin and fifth-round pick Devin Street were both at Valley Ranch on Monday. Garrett said fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens had exams Monday and Tuesday and would arrive after those, while he expected second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence today (Thursday).
“The benefit is simply getting in a meeting room,” Garrett said. “We start there, introduce stuff to them, then on Tuesday and Thursday, they’ll go out with our veteran players on the field, they’ll get an orientation to our strength and conditioning program. These days are valuable. If you have time with them, 45 minutes in the morning, an hour and a half in the afternoon, a couple-three days, you can really learn a lot of football in a short period of time, and we feel like our rookie minicamp will be so much better as a result of that.”
Garrett said with a week in between the draft and the rookie minicamp, players arriving early can be three or four days ahead of where they would be otherwise before taking the field. Coaches also get a better idea of where the player is at physically.
The conditioning of rookies generally pales in comparison to the veterans, who’ve been in the Dallas Cowboys offseason program.
“That’s something we’ve got to be really careful about, really on Tuesday when they go out with our veteran players,” Garrett said. “Our veteran players have been here, and they’re working out and they’re in shape and they’re in our program, so we feel like it’s important to acclimate them to that, but we have to do it very carefully to make sure they’re ready to handle the work.”
The days leading into the rookie minicamp can be valuable. And while it may be unfair, coaches and personnel evaluators may be less inclined to bring in undrafted players with extenuating circumstances forcing them to arrive late.
“I think it impacts that, because it’s always so tight,” Garrett said. “There’s usually a couple guys you’re thinking about, and if the logistics are right with one guy and everything else is even, you’ll probably take that guy. But for the most part, you’re trying to take the best guys, and you can kind of work your way through some of those situations.”
VALLEY RANCH YOUTH MOVEMENT: Dallas Cowboys welcome 31 rookie draft picks & undrafted free agents | Full list of jersey numbers issued
IRVING, Texas – If it hadn’t felt real before, it must have started sinking in today.
The hallways of Valley Ranch have been quiet for much of the past five months, but they sprang to life with players – many of whom had roughly 36 hours to process the realization of a lifelong dream.
In all, the Dallas Cowboys brought in 31 players on Monday – six of their nine draft picks and 25 undrafted free agents. Three of the six draftees, second-rounder Demarcus Lawrence, fourth-rounder Anthony Hitchens, and seventh-rounder Terrance Mitchell. have obligations keeping them from joining the roster until Thursday. Despite that, the Cowboys had enough new players on hand to field a full team.
“It feels good to meet some of the guys and kind of start to get acclimated a little bit,” first rounder Zack Martin said.
Martin has at least had a few days to acclimate, as he was drafted Thursday night and arrived in Dallas on Saturday afternoon. The No. 16 overall pick said it was nice to get the rest of the rookies into town and start working.
“It feels good to be back in football – get in the meeting room and start talking football,” Martin said.
Some of those might know each other better than others, in fact. The Dallas Cowboys added 33 total rookies from 28 different schools, though not all of them are total strangers. Martin lined up opposite Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner for three years during the annual rivalry between the Fighting Irish and Cardinal.
“It was always me and him lining up against each other – we had a good little rivalry,” Gardner said. “He’s a great player and I’m glad we got him. I’m glad to be on his team now, because he’s not the most fun guy to face on game day.”
Gardner said Saturday he could feel the chip on his shoulder growing with every round he slipped in the draft. That’s bound to be a common sentiment around Valley Ranch, as Martin and Demarcus Lawrence are the only rookies on hand taken before the third round.
“I had a lot of mixed emotions, but I said to myself, ‘Anybody gives me a shot, I’m going to go in and give it all I got and make everybody regret who passed me up,’” said fullback J.C. Copeland (undrafted free agent).
All of those emotions are bound to make any player’s first day in the NFL surreal, but it might pack a little more punch for others. Auburn safety Ryan Smith, one of the many undrafted free agents (see list below) signed after the draft, happened to enter the league on his birthday.
“This is probably the best birthday I ever had, even though I’m kind of at work right now,” Smith said.
“It’s just a working process, everything’s just moving fast. But it’ll hit me soon when everything slows down when we get into camp.”
That will come sooner rather than later. Training camp is still several months away, but the rookies begin their first mini-camp on Friday – a much quicker turnaround than usual. It’s a process that’s bound to take some adjusting to, but Smith said it’s starting to settle in.
“Seeing the vets come in, seeing Romo come through the locker room, Dez Bryant, guys like that, it’s just kind of realistic now,” he said.
If it hasn’t settled in yet, it’s going to quickly. The physicals have been administered and the pictures taken. The pads go on soon enough.
“I’ll see when I start hitting somebody,” Copeland said.
As expected, the Dallas Cowboys waived six players to make room for their new rookies.
Most of the players removed from the roster were players the team added after the season as street free agents, or near the end of the 2013 season and placed on the practice squad.
Kearse finished the year on the active roster while Lewis was added to the practice squad.
The Dallas Cowboys need to be at 90 players when the team officially begins training camp on July 24 with the first practice. The first cut-down to 75 players will be in mid-August just before the last preseason game.
Dallas Cowboys 2014 Draft picks …
1 (16) Zack Martin | OG, Notre Dame | Reassigned jersey #70 today*
2 (34) Demarcus Lawrence | DE, Boise State | Assigned jersey #90 today
4 (119) Anthony Hitchens | OLB, Iowa | Assigned jersey #59 today
5 (146) Devin Street | WR, Pittsburgh | Assigned jersey #15 today*
7 (231) Ben Gardner | DE, Stanford | Assigned jersey #71 today*
7 (238) Will Smith | OLB, Texas Tech | Assigned jersey #40 today
7 (248) Ahmad Dixon | SS, Baylor | Assigned jersey #36 today
7 (251) Ken Bishop | DT, Northern Illinois | Assigned jersey #66 today
7 (254) Terrance Mitchell | CB, Oregon | Assigned jersey #30 today
* Zack Martin’s held up jersey #71 on his staged photo, assigned his college jersey #70 today. Gardner will wear #71 this season. WR Devin Street was issued his college jersey #15.
Dallas Cowboys 2014 undrafted free agents …
Josh Aladenoye, OT, Illinois State (Left tackle, could see them trying him inside at guard)
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Brian Clarke, G, Bloomsburg (Right guard, undersized but very strong)
Davon Coleman, DT, Arizona State
J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU (#2 ranked FB in this years draft)
Andre Cureton, G, Cincinnati (Right guard, stout, will need development, coachable)
Casey Kreiter, LS, Iowa
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M
Cody Mandell, P, Alabama
Glasco Martin, RB, Baylor (he’s your big thumper to watch)
Jordan Najvar, TE, Baylor
Ronald Patrick, G, South Carolina
Dashaun Phillips, CB, Tarleton State
Jarrod Pughsley, G, Akron
Marvin Robinson, S, Ferris State
Dontavis Sapp, LB, Tennessee
Jocquel Skinner, CB, Bethel
Keith Smith, S, San Jose State
Ryan Smith, S, Auburn
Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A&M
L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri (Combine 4.39 40, sentimental favorite)
Chris Whaley, DT, Texas (JJ’s “stored nut for winter”, torn ACL last November)
Joe Windsor, Northern Illinois
Evan Wilson, Illinois State
MEET YOUR NEW WIDE RECEIVER: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR LaRon “Big” Byrd | NFL free agency 2014
LaRon Byrd | WR, Miami, Fla. | 6-4, 220 | 4.45 | UDFA with Arizona Cardinals 2012
Games Studied: 2012 Pre Season: New Orleans, Kansas City 2012 Regular Season: Chicago
Had to go back and study tape from 2012 because he missed the 2013 season with a concussion. LaRon Byrd is an interesting player due to his physical makeup for the position. Rangy, long build.
Played both on the outside and in the slot when the Cardinals went into “11” personnel. Would line up tight to the formation as a blocker and was more than willing to do the dirty work. Was not afraid to mix it up with defenders on the edge. Was more than just a get in the way blocker.
Really tried to finish his blocks. Would see him get square to the defender and engage. You could see this in his work on special teams when he blocked on the punt and kickoff returns.
Was used as a move guy at times. Would work hard to the flat like he did in the Chiefs game catching the ball on the move, then getting out of bounds to save time in the two minute drill. Aware. Made another adjusting catch over his head working toward the sideline in the same game.
There was some purpose to his route running. Was open against the Saints on a wheel route out of the slot but quarterback did not go his direction but would have had a huge play. Had a feel for how to work himself open against the press.
Would not call him the quickest off the line. Will build up speed as he gets going. Only had one drop on a drag route against the Saints that he should have had. Hands overall looked dependable whether he was catching inside or down the seam.
Took a huge shot from the safety in Cover 2 against the Chiefs and was able to hang onto the ball. There were a couple of snaps where he jumped for the ball where he didn’t need to but made the catch. Would not say that he is a body catcher only because he did have two snatch catches that I saw.
Was on the majority of the special teams for the Cardinals in the game against the Bears. Lined up as the L2 on the kickoff team, left tackle on the kickoff return and inline blocker on the punt return. Appeared to handle his assignments well and without issues.
His size, hands and willingness to show toughness as a blocker and special teamer makes this signing understandable because of the traits that he can bring to the roster. Very low risk signing that could work out well in the end.
Editors note: LaRon Byrd is the tallest Dallas Cowboys wide receiver on the roster. He’s a young, very gifted player with the toughness, work ethic, and character traits that Jason Garrett relishes. With Scott Linehan orchestrating the Dallas Cowboys offense, you can feel assured that Big Byrd will be fully utilized against these 5’11” secondaries. Nice addition.
Related article on The Boys Are Back:
Your Dallas Cowboys wide receivers …
|11||Beasley, Cole||WR||5-8||180||25||2||Southern Methodist|
|88||Bryant, Dez||WR||6-2||222||25||4||Oklahoma State|
|80||Byrd, LaRon||WR||6-4||220||24||3||Miami (Fla.)|
|17||Harris, Dwayne||WR||5-10||207||26||3||East Carolina|
Your Dallas Cowboys wide receivers currently on the practice squad …
|16||Benford, Tim||WR||5-11||193||24||1||Tennessee Tech|
|86||Lewis, Lance||WR||6-2||207||25||1||East Carolina|
|85||Newsome, Jamar||WR||6-1||201||26||1||Central Florida|
2014-2015 ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys exercise fifth-year option for LT Tyron Smith | Free Agent wide receiver LaRon Byrd signed
IRVING, Texas – It’s long been viewed as inevitable, but the Dallas Cowboys made it official today by exercising the fifth-year option on Tyron Smith’s contract.
The move extends Smith’s contract through the 2015 season, and it bumps his salary from the roughly $2 million he’ll make in 2014 to $10.039 million in the final year of the deal. That salary is guaranteed, and Smith gets it fully guaranteed if he is still on the Dallas Cowboys roster at the start of the 2015 league year next March.
The next bit of news for Smith will be how this affects his prospects of reaching a long-term deal with the team, though it does buy both parties some time. The Cowboys had until May 2 to exercise the fifth-year option or Smith would have become a free agent next spring.
With the option, Smith now won’t be slated to enter NFL free agency until spring of 2016, but the Cowboys will likely try to lock him up well before that. The 23-year-old Los Angeles native doesn’t turn 24 until December 12, and he is widely considered among the best young offensive tackles in the league, earning his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
Even with the extended contract, Smith is still likely to be one of the Dallas Cowboys top targets for a new deal, along with wide receiver Dez Bryant. It’s been widely speculated one or both players could receive new contracts prior to the 2014 season.
The Cowboys selected Smith No. 9 overall out of USC in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has appeared in 47 of 48 possible games during his career – all of them starts. He played right tackle as a rookie before shifting to left tackle in 2012.
Smith’s emergence as a dominant left tackle helped improve the Cowboys’ much-maligned running game last fall. The Cowboys rushed for 95 yards or more four times in the final six weeks of the season, including four games of 107 yards or more. They managed that just once during the first 10 games of the year. The team’s ground game averaged four yards per rush on attempts to Smith’s side, and five yards per rush on attempts between Smith and guard Ronald Leary.
IRVING, Texas – Regardless of what happens in next week’s NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys have added a new body to their receiving corps.
The Cowboys confirmed that they’ve signed wide receiver LaRon Byrd, a free agent who was released by the Cardinals earlier in April. The move gives the Cowboys eight receivers on the roster right now, along with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Tim Benford, Lance Lewis, and Jamar Newsome.
At 6-4, 220 pounds, Byrd is the largest receiver of the bunch.
Byrd entered the 2012 NFL Draft out of Miami but went undrafted. He signed with Arizona and made the active roster, logging one reception for eight yards and two tackles in four games. During the Cardinals’ 2013 preseason, Byrd suffered a concussion and was placed on the team’s reserved/injured list. He was placed on Arizona’s injured reserve after clearing waivers.
The Cardinals released Byrd on April 4 after signing two offensive linemen and a defensive tackle.
Byrd was a four-year contributor with the Hurricanes, from 2008-11. He finished his career with 106 receptions for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns. He set a career high in 2009 with 33 receptions for 460 yards.
IN CAREER RELAUNCHING MODE: Dallas Cowboys re-sign DE Anthony Spencer to one-year contract | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys answered one of their final lingering questions of this offseason this afternoon.
HAPPY TRAILS TO FORMER COWBOY: Dallas DL Jarius Wynn signs with Buffalo Bills | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – Another member of last year’s defensive line in Dallas will be playing with another team in 2014.
The Bills signed former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jarius Wynn, an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year deal Tuesday.
Wynn signed with the Cowboys on Oct. 17, 2013, and made his debut with the team just three days later, helping to hold LeSean McCoy to just 55 yards on 18 carries. His best game with the Dallas Cowboys may have been his second time playing the Eagles, when he notched two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in the season finale.
He was one of the few linemen signed in the middle of the year to stick the rest of the way, playing a total of 10 games with the Cowboys.
Wynn’s versatility was crucial on a defensive line ravaged by injuries. He was able to play inside when needed and bump outside to end to provide a rush. He even started for Jason Hatcher against the Saints when the defensive tackle was out with a stinger.
Wynn finished with 12 tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and six quarterback pressures during his time in Dallas. He also played in five games with the Chargers in 2013 and recorded a sack.
His production last season would suggest he’d be a possible fit to return to the Cowboys in 2014, but Buffalo scooped him up. If Wynn is active for the Bills next season, it will mark his fifth different team he’s played for since joining the league as a sixth-round pick in 2009.
Wynn joins Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware, and Corvey Irvin as players who were on the Dallas defensive line at the end of the 2013 season that’ll be playing elsewhere in 2014.
CLEARING OUT THE WEEDS: New Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden appreciates the fresh start from Believeland to Big D
IRVING, Texas — Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.
Now Weeden is a Dallas Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed — a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”
He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”
Weeden comes to the Dallas Cowboys with no pressure.
The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.
“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”
Editors note: For our loyal fans that also support the AFC’s Cleveland Browns … check out this site to become a citizen of BelieveLand.
MEET YOUR NEW DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Pro scouting report on DT Henry Melton | Tuning up Marinelli’s Motor | Dallas Cowboys free agency 2014
Henry Melton | Defensive Tackle | Texas | Height/Weight: 6-3, 295
Drafted: Fourth round, No. 101 overall, 2009 NFL Draft by Chicago
Games Studied: 2013: Cincinnati, Minnesota 2012: Dallas, Houston, San Francisco
Melton was a much better player in his 2012 film than he was in 2013. He didn’t show the same explosive quickness and get-off that he did two seasons ago. Under Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator, he was on the move more, and this is where Melton thrives. When he can get on the outside shoulder of the guard and attack the gap, he can be difficult to block. Before his knee injury against the Steelers in 2013, you didn’t see this type of use in the scheme. He played slow and sluggish.
Simply put, he didn’t even look like the same player. There were too many snaps where he didn’t come off the ball, and where he put that pressure on the blocker. There were times where he was washed out of the play, knocked to the ground and was a non-factor.
When Melton is really on a roll, you can see blockers have to reach for him to try and block. He can put them in bad positions with just his first step. He’ll make blockers overextend and lose their balance. He has a feel for how to make himself small when he is on the move in the pass rush.
He’s one of those players you want to play line games with because of this ability. The second you get him a little space, he is tight to pick and around the edge. In 2012, he had a sack against the Dallas Cowboys in that exact situation.
This is one of those defensive tackles that can throw pass-rush moves as he is going up the field. He makes a quick arm-over move and then he is gone. He’s slippery when working toward and through the hole. He’s also a really nice space player, and he can change directions with the best of them.
The tape also shows that Melton’s lateral movement and quickness are outstanding. If the ball goes away from him, can really flatten down the line and chase after it. He makes it hard for blockers to keep up with him, and he shows the ability to beat the reach block with his quickness. In that sense, he does a nice job of reading blocks on the move.
If there’s one big problem to his game, it’s when he gets caught rushing down the middle of the blocker and he gets stuck. Where blockers have success against him is when they can get him to stop his feet –then he gets in a bind. Movement is such a big part of his game, it’s hard for him to get going again once he stops.
This happened to him more in 2013 than 2012. He’s not the type of player who plays with the power to beat double team blocks. He will extend his hands, but he’s not going to be able to stand in there toe-to-toe with blockers and slug it out.
Where he might get in trouble is when he tries to jump around blocks and he will leave holes.
It was amazing how different Melton’s film was between the two seasons. In talking with him on Wednesday, he spoke about Rod Marinelli working with him to get himself right again, so even in his own mind, he knows that he was a better player and that is the level he needs to play at for this to all work.
RELATED: Henry Melton eager to become the motor that drives Marinelli’s defense
IRVING, Texas – From the time it became clear the Dallas Cowboys might need a new three-technique defensive tackle, Henry Melton seemed like a logical option.
The Chicago Bears Pro Bowler was a free agent, was coming off an ACL injury and he was from the Dallas area – it made sense. But perhaps Melton’s most-discussed tie to the Cowboys was his relationship with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Melton enjoyed the best seasons of his career under Marinelli’s watch in Chicago, posting a combined 13 sacks in 2011 and 2012 and earning his only trip to the Pro Bowl.
It’s one thing to suppose the Dallas-area native would want to reunite with his old coach – it’s another thing to hear it from the man himself.
“Once I reconnected with Rod – he did some good recruiting. It was a pretty easy decision,” Melton said.
One need only look at the Cowboys’ roster to see why Marinelli was so set on reuniting with his former star. Jason Hatcher signed a free agent deal that left the Cowboys without those 11 sacks and it left them without a true three-technique defensive tackle.
In Marinelli’s system, the three-technique is referred to by many as the motor that drives the defense – a crucial element of the pass rush. Melton’s familiar with the role, and he said he’s ready to take it on once again.
“I’m familiar with the system, I know what it demands and they want me to be the guy. I’m accepting the position,” he said.
Who Melton will line up with is still a matter of some speculation. The Cowboys have now replaced one Pro Bowl defensive tackle with another, but there’s still the absence of All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware to consider.
Dallas signed journeymen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to free agent deals last week, and Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass are set to return from injury in 2014. Two of last season’s starters, Nick Hayden and George Selvie, also return. But it remains to be seen how all of those pieces, including potential draft picks, will translate to a productive defensive line.
That didn’t seem to faze Melton, however, who said he’s eager to embrace the challenge – starting with a return to his Pro Bowl form from 2012.
“I think if I’m dominant and playing the way I know I can, and Rod gets me right and the defense is flying around, this team is really close to doing something special,” Melton said.
If there was any doubt about Melton’s excitement about the reunion, his conversation gives it away. The University of Texas standout mentioned Marinelli at nearly every turn, even allowing that he went to dinner with Marinelli on Monday night, the day before he and the Cowboys agreed to terms.
“He’s tough on you, but the thing about Rod is he cares about you as a person,” Melton said. “He wants to see you succeed, and you can sense that about him. I’m just happy to be here and work with him.”
The expectation is Melton will be healthy and ready to go when the Dallas Cowboys report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Having Marinelli alongside to push him can only raise those expectations higher.
“It gives me great confidence,” Melton said. “I know what the position demands, I know what the schemes are and I know Rod – how demanding he is. It’s going to be fun.”
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: 1-on-1 interview with DT Henry Melton, your newest Dallas Cowboy | NFL Free Agency 2014
Meet Henry Melton | “This Was The Best Fit For Me” | 3:41
IRVING, Texas – Henry Melton officially signed his one-year contract with a three-year team option today in Dallas at Valley Ranch.
The Dallas Cowboys new three-technique defensive tackle, who agreed to terms with the Cowboys on Tuesday, believes he should be ready to roll fully by training camp after an ACL injury ended his 2013 season early.
“Anybody that checks me out and looks at my knee, they’re all saying training camp is a good day,” Melton said.
That’s good news for the Cowboys, who just picked up the defensive tackle widely regarded as the best player left in free agency at his position.
The Cowboys signed Melton believing he can get back to being the player who accumulated seven sacks in 2011 and six sacks in 2012, but the unique contract Melton signed gives the team some protection. Melton, who’s from the Dallas area and went to high school in nearby Grapevine, Texas, will only count $2.75 million against the cap with a $1.25 base salary in 2014 and can earn up to $5 million this year.
If Melton proves himself worthy by getting back to his Pro Bowl level of play and is on the roster by the start of the 2015 season, the team can exercise their three-year option. That’ll raise Melton’s price tag, give him reportedly $9 million in guaranteed money and allow him to get paid on par with some of the top defensive tackles in the league.
Melton knows he has to earn that three-year option or risk returning to free agency, and that doesn’t bother him. He said this year in Dallas is a proving ground, and pairing back up with Rod Marinelli, his former defensive coordinator during his best years in Chicago, adds to his faith he can return to form.
“It’s like you’re betting on yourself,” Melton said. “I feel like with me and my rehab and coming back with Rod and the good defense that’s here, I can get back to that form. I believe in that, and obviously they believe in me to get it done.”
Melton had surgery on his knee in October, but he’s already sprinting and lifting and gradually working his way back into shape. He’s five and a half months removed from the surgery, and he said every team he visited, including the doctors in Dallas, said he’s on track with where he needs to be to return for training camp.
Despite the injury, Melton still garnered significant interest in free agency and made visits to the Vikings and the Seahawks before coming to Dallas. He said he didn’t know what to expect in terms of offers from teams when he entered free agency off the knee injury, but he wasn’t worried about it.
“God has a plan for everybody,” Melton said. “It was all out of my hands. My agent really didn’t know what the market value was. We were just going to visit some teams, see where everyone’s heads were at. I came here and pretty much fell in love, so that was the end of that story.”
Melton also had a visit set up with the Rams after leaving Dallas with no deal, but he said he knew when he visited the Cowboys that he wanted to be in Dallas.
“They really wanted me to come,” Melton said. “I looked at what I can do here and what they’re trying to build here.”
Melton said Dallas felt familiar, from the actual surroundings to the defensive system he’ll be playing in. After losing DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in free agency, the Cowboys need to rely on Melton as the primary disruptive force in the middle.
The Dallas Cowboys saw at home, in first person, what Melton was capable of doing to an offensive line. Melton began his Pro Bowl 2012 season with four sacks in the first three games, including one on Tony Romo at AT&T Stadium.
“I had about 30 people there,” Melton recalled. “The atmosphere there is just crazy. I was back home and everything was just clicking. It was a great game.”
At only 27, The Dallas Cowboys hope he’s still got many more of those left in the tank.
IRVING, Texas – In Rod Marinelli, the Dallas Cowboys believe they have one of the best coaches in the NFL.
It appears he might be a pretty good recruiter, too.
The Cowboys’ ability to land free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton was a lot about the contract, a lot about Melton possibly wanting to play at home, and a lot about Marinelli.
“I’m excited to come back home and work with Rod [Marinelli] and get back to my Pro Bowl form,” Melton told Calvin Watkins.
Melton developed into a Pro Bowl defensive tackle under Marinelli with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12. Melton had 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl after a six-sack season in 2012. He also had 71 tackles and nine tackles for loss with Marinelli as his mentor.
He might talk softly, but Marinelli has a way of forging relationships with defensive linemen. He did it with Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did it with Melton and Julius Peppers with the Bears. He did it with Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were forced to use 20 defensive linemen in 2013 and were one game away from making the playoffs. Marinelli was able to make it work to a certain degree with guys such as George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Jarius Wynn, Corvey Irvin, and Frank Kearse.
Mincey was coached with the Jacksonville Jaguars by Joe Cullen, who coached under Marinelli with the Detroit Lions.
“Genuine and a believer,” Mincey said last week. “He believes in what I believe: Going out there and giving your all and trusting the process and seeing what happens. You never know what’s going to happen, especially with a bunch of guys who are hungry, who are dedicated and motivated for a larger purpose.”
The job is not over. The Dallas Cowboys concluded a visit with Jared Allen today and the veteran could be the next one added to the Marinelli mix.
MELTON REUNITES WITH MARINELLI: Dallas Cowboys add defensive tackle Henry Melton | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys agreed to terms with defensive tackle Henry Melton late tonight.
The contract is reportedly a one-year deal with a club option for three more, depending on Melton’s performance in 2014. The price figures to be a bit lower than expected for one of the league’s top defensive tackles, as Melton missed the majority of 2013 with an ACL injury. Financial details have not been disclosed, but Melton’s price tag would increase if he is brought back.
The deal brings Melton to Dallas from the Chicago Bears, who drafted him No. 101 overall in 2009.
The news makes Melton the Cowboys’ first big acquisition of free agency, after a tumultuous week saw the team part ways with Pro Bowlers DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and Miles Austin at the outset of free agency.
The move means Melton, who is from nearby Grapevine, Texas, and is a University of Texas product, is not just returning to his home state, but is reuniting with former coach Rod Marinelli. The Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator held the same position with the Chicago Bears, where he oversaw Melton’s lone Pro Bowl season in 2012.
Melton will take Hatcher’s place as the three-technique defensive tackle in Marinelli’s 4-3 defensive front. The five-year veteran enjoyed the best years of his career from that spot, compiling a total of 68 tackles and 13 sacks in 2012 and 2013.
The injury ended Melton’s 2013 season in Week 3, as he was carted off the field during Chicago’s 40-23 win against Pittsburgh on Sept. 22.
The three-technique is the motor of Marinelli’s pass rush, to paraphrase the man himself. His purpose is to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback, as evidenced by Hatcher in his first season playing for Marinelli and then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
With Hatcher entering free agency, it was widely speculated the Cowboys would pursue Marinelli’s old player, who many thought could be added for a lower price because of the injury. When the Cowboys released Ware and Hatcher signed a four-year, $27 million contract with Washington, the pressure to secure a pass rusher increased.
It remains to be seen how the addition of Melton affects the team’s pursuit of All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, who visited Valley Ranch today. The Cowboys have roughly $7 million in salary cap room to work with, so signing both could be feasible given the right deals.
Allen returned to Minnesota on Tuesday to be with his family, as his wife is expecting the couple’s second child.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys agree to one-year deal with DT Henry Melton
The Dallas Cowboys and Henry Melton have agreed to a one-year deal with an option. Melton’s signing will ease the sting of losing Jason Hatcher last week.
The Grapevine product arrived for a visit yesterday. He had dinner with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli last night. Though he left for St. Louis today without a contract, it didn’t take the Dallas Cowboys long to get him in the fold.
Melton revealed his choice on Twitter, “Thank you Chicago for the best 5 years of my life!…. I can’t wait to begin the next chapter of my life… With a star on my helmet.”
Melton, 27, played only three games last season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee in October. But in four seasons, he has 15.5 sacks.
Melton replaces Hatcher, who signed with the Redskins last week, having played the three-technique for Marinelli when Marinelli was defensive coordinator of the Bears. Melton earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 playing for Marinelli, and the Bears used the franchise tag on Melton in 2013, paying him $8.45 million.
The former UT product’s signing is good news for the Cowboys.
Jarod Allen left Valley Ranch without a contract and returned home to discuss his options with his wife. But with Melton on the defensive line, the Dallas Cowboys chances of improving their pass rush, and their defense, have improved.
HURRY UP AND WAIT BIG D: Dallas Cowboys (and fans) awaiting decisions from NFL free agents Jared Allen and Henry Melton
IRVING, Texas – The visits are finished for the time being, and now the Dallas Cowboys will wait for further news from free agent targets Henry Melton and Jared Allen.
Allen commanded headlines today with a scheduled visit of Valley Ranch. The five-time Pro Bowler arrived in Dallas last night and spent today at the facility with Dallas Cowboys coaches and executives.
Familial obligations with his wife, who is expecting the couple’s second child, called Allen back to Minnesota, where he played six seasons with the Vikings. The visit reportedly went well, however.
Melton made his visit with the Cowboys, including his old defensive coordinator in Chicago, Rod Marinelli, yesterday. The 2012 Pro Bowler has been the most widely-discussed possibility to replace Jason Hatcher as the Cowboys’ three-technique defensive tackle since Hatcher signed a four-year deal with Washington last Thursday.
The former Bears defensive tackle moved on to a meeting with the St. Louis Rams today after spending Monday at Valley Ranch. All indications are that the visit went well, but it remains to be seen where or when Melton – widely considered the best defensive tackle left on the market – will decide to sign.
It’s expected that Melton’s availability would be one of the storylines of the offseason for a Cowboys defensive line that has been ravaged by injuries and departures. Melton tore his ACL in October of last season and has been preparing for free agency ever since. His connection to Marinelli’s time in Chicago, combined with the potential for a lower price tag because of the injury, made him a no-brainer for free agency speculation.
The courtship of Allen comes as a bit of a more surprising development – at least up until the past week. The 2004 fourth-round draft pick is one of the bigger names on the free agent market, and reports indicate he has been in contact with several teams. Given Allen’s pedigree, it seemed like too high of a price tag when the Cowboys already had an All-Pro in DeMarcus Ware.
Ware’s release and subsequent signing with the Broncos added even greater need for pass rushers on an already-thin defensive line, bringing Allen into the forefront.
The Cowboys have roughly $7 million in salary cap room following Ware’s release, which should give them the space to strike a deal with one or potentially both Pro Bowlers. The team has only added three free agents to this point in 2014 – journeymen defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain, as well as quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2012 before being released last week.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys remain in play for Jared Allen and Henry Melton
Two days ago, this was considered a big week for the Dallas Cowboys.
With visits on tap with defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Jared Allen, it was considered a golden opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to gain some off-season momentum and an improve their team for next year with free agents at key need positions.
Now that the visits are over, Melton and Allen both left without deals. The Cowboys remain unfulfilled though still clinging to a hard line they established last week when they cut defensive end DeMarcus Ware and let Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher bolt in free agency.
Signing guys at their price would come first and foremost over being fiscally irresponsible and possibly costing them against the cap in future years.
The visits went well, with Melton and Allen, and the Cowboys remain in play for both players.
Melton left his visit with the Cowboys and flew to St. Louis for a visit with the Rams. He visited the Vikings and Seahawks before coming to Dallas and is weighing offers from several teams.
Allen returned home to discuss the decision over with his wife. He visited the Seahawks before coming to Dallas. He must decide if he will take an offer with Dallas or Seattle, visit other teams or continue to wait.
The Cowboys remain interested in both players and made pitches how each would fit in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme.
The remaining question is at what price.
Melton, a Pro Bowler in 2012 with the Bears, is coming off season-ending knee surgery. His knee checked out fine with the Cowboys and he will be ready for the start of the season but not the start of training camp in late July. The latter is not considered something that would preclude the Cowboys from signing him, but it is something to consider when talking contracts.
Allen, an 11-year veteran, has averaged 14.5 sacks over the past seven seasons. But he will be 32 next season and is reportedly looking for a contract similar to the three-year, $30 million deal the Ware signed with Denver after being cut from the Dallas Cowboys last week.
IT’S PAYDAY FOR DANNY MCCRAY: Now former Dallas Cowboys special teams ace signs one-year deal with Bears
IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys safety and special teams ace Danny McCray has agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bears.
McCray was an unrestricted free agent this year after being with the Cowboys since 2010. McCray and Barry Church both made the team as undrafted safeties that season, and McCray would go on to be one of the Dallas Cowboys top special teams stars.
He’ll rejoin former Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis in Chicago. DeCamillis quickly had an affinity for McCray after watching the safety’s special teams abilities at LSU and seeing them translate to the field in Dallas.
McCray didn’t waste any time demonstrating his skills as a special teams player with the Cowboys. He finished his rookie season with a team-high 28 tackles on special teams, which marked the third-most in a season for the Dallas Cowboys since the club began recording special teams tackles in 1988.
He also led the Cowboys in special teams tackles with 19 in 2011. McCray’s the first player since Bill Bates in 1989-90 to lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles in consecutive years.
McCray still managed to finish second on the team with 18 special teams stops in 2012, despite his increased role as a safety after Church went out for the season with an Achilles injury. McCray started the first and only 10 games of his career in 2012, notching 87 tackles and an interception.
His production lessened in 2013, particularly with the rise of Dwayne Harris as both a returner and cover player, along with Jeff Heath’s emergence on special teams. Heath led the team with 13 total special teams tackles, while Harris, Cameron Lawrence and Kyle Bosworth each had 12.
MEET YOUR NEW QUARTERBACK: Scouting report on new Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden | Dallas Cowboys free agency 2014
Brandon Weeden | Quarterback, Oklahoma State | Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Drafted: First round, No. 22 overall, 2012 NFL Draft by Cleveland
Games Studied: 2013 Miami, Baltimore, Green Bay, Jacksonville.
As a scout you always try and go into a situation with an open mind when you are studying a player — regardless of what people tell you about his body of work — and come to your own conclusions about his fit on your roster.
When Brandon Weeden was released by the Browns, I knew there was a chance a team might take this opportunity to bring him in for a low risk, low money deal and get an idea why he failed. Scouts are always curious about what happens to these high draft picks, especially at quarterback, when they don’t make it initially
For Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, Weeden sat on the Cowboys draft board near the bottom of the second round, so I understand their curiosity. Though you might not have seen the talent with the Browns, here is an opportunity for a free look. There is no pressure for Weeden to have to start or even be the backup as he comes into camp. He is not young in his age, but he is young in his football experience — two years as a starter at Oklahoma State and two more with the Browns.
There is a possibility that he could develop some of those traits that you believed he could be a bridge as the backup, or, like I have seen plenty of times in my career, he could be a trade possibility if a club needs a quarterback in the preseason.
In the games I was able to study with Weeden, I was surprised how up and down that he played. When he could take the snap and throw the ball without having to read the defense, he was a much better quarterback. There were times where Norv Turner had him do just that. Whether it was the slant or quick out, if he didn’t have to think much about it, there was no problem. It was when the ball didn’t leave his hand on time when he struggled the most, and this is where, mechanically, he would break down.
As a defense, if you make him hold the ball, you have a chance to get him on the ground because he is not the most mobile player. But there was one common theme in the tape that I observed: the Browns were terrible at guard with Shawn Lauvao and John Greco. The majority of the pressure Weeden faced came from the inside over those two players, and anyone that knows football knows the best way to cause a quarterback problems is to attack him in the middle of the pocket.
There were plays where Lauvao completely whiffed on the block and Weeden was down before he hit his fifth step. Against the Packers, Greco was driven so far into the backfield Weeden had no place to even plant his front foot to make the throw. I am not putting all the blame on these guards, because Weeden tends to be slow footed, but if you are getting sacked 27 times in eight games, there are issues that need to be addressed.
To Weeden’s credit, he was more than willing to stand in middle of that pocket and deliver the ball with everything breaking down around him. But he also made some throws where you have to cover your eyes — again, it’s the clock in his head. The longer than ball is in his hand, the more likely he is going to panic and try to horse the ball into a crowd of defenders instead of taking the check down and fighting another day.
He was all over the place against the Packers in poor weather conditions and missed several open receivers. When he gets in a situation where things become tough, you can see him start to aim the ball instead of making a good confident throw. He really struggles with his decision-making as things begin to fall apart. When he can play pitch and catch, he looks very comfortable, but in the Green Bay game, he was far from comfortable. He was late on his reads and it hurt several of his throws. He missed an open “curl” and was way too high on an “out”.
Not all his throws are poorly thrown. There are times again, when he can catch the ball and get rid of it like he did at Oklahoma State — with some accuracy. The second snap of the game against the Ravens, he slides to his right and delivers a strike to Jordan Cameron for a 53-yard gain. There was a crossing route to Greg Little that was on the money, that allowed a run after the catch. He even showed some touch on a red zone fade for a touchdown against Jacksonville, with Josh Gordon out of the slot.
You have heard me say this plenty of times about the job of a scout in this league — it is about trying to find players. At one time, Brandon Weeden, whether it was right or wrong, was a highly though-of player by this organization. This league is filled with players that started on one team, then landed on another to have outstanding careers.
I remember my time in Green Bay where we had Brett Favre, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer and a quarterback named Kurt Warner on the roster for camp. In that 1993 season, Favre, Brunell and Detmer were all on the roster and we let go of Warner, who made his way to Arena Ball, then later a Hall of Fame career. I am not saying Brandon Weeden is going to have a Hall of Fame career like Warner. But like the St. Louis Rams did, it never hurts to give a player a look.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout
DON’T MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: Veteran LB Will Herring brings special teams leadership and depth to defense | Professional Scouting Report | NFL Free Agency 2014 | UPDATED
UPDATE: HERRING AND COWBOYS DEAL IS NOW OFF THE TABLE
IRVING, Texas – The deal between the Dallas Cowboys and former Saints linebacker Will Herring is now off.
Herring had announced the agreement with the Cowboys on Thursday on Twitter, stating that he’s “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization,” but the deal fell apart by Friday before Herring had signed.
It was a mutual parting of the ways that had to do with the language of the contract.
The move would have been the third signing for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, after inking deals with defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain.
Herring’s signing would have also put into question the future of Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams star who’s now an unrestricted free agent. Herring finished second on the Saints with seven special teams tackles last season.
EDITORS NOTE: If you’re a regular reader, you already know The Boys Are Back website goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure information is ‘official’ and “accurate” before it’s posted here. This site is not a rumor mill. We wait for official confirmations and verify stories via multiple inside sources before anything is posted here. Our apologies. The team and Herring’s agent had a verbal agreement that broke down this afternoon regarding language in the contract. Deals off.
INITIAL REPORT FROM THE OFFICIAL DALLAS COWBOYS RESOURCE:
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have now signed a third player in free agency, adding veteran linebacker Will Herring.
The seven-year pro first announced the move on Twitter, saying “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization”
Herring, a fifth-round pick of Auburn in 2007, spent four years in Seattle and the last three in New Orleans, where he played all 16 games each of the last two seasons, registering 13 tackles in each year.
Herring spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker. He was the Saints’ special teams captain in 2013.
In his three years with the Saints, Herring started three games and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and forced one fumble. He joined the Saints after a four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks. He had three tackles on defense and two on special teams in New Orleans’ win against the Cowboys last season.
This move could signal the end of free agent Danny McCray’s time with the Cowboys. The team’s most productive coverage player since 2010, McCray is an unrestricted free agent.
Editors note: Herring was signed to a one year contract. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed by the team at this time.
Scouting Report: Herring Stands Out On Special Teams
Will Herring | Linebacker, Auburn | Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Drafted: Fifth round, No. 161 overall, 2007 Draft by Seattle
Games Studied: 2013 preseason vs. Kansas City, Oakland, Houston; regular season vs. Dallas
Herring was mainly used as a special teams player during his three seasons with the New Orleans Saints — my look at him as a linebacker was from preseason film. He’s 6-3, 235 pounds and can play all three positions, but he’s most likely better suited to play as a weak side linebacker in this scheme (Editors note: That would put him in as Bruce Carter’s backup if the positions remain the same as 2013).
In Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, Herring played as a weak inside linebacker for the Saints last season. He has a nose for the ball, and an easy flow and drop in coverage. He’s aware of the back out of the backfield and assignment to pick up — able to see the ball, than drive on it to make a wrap up tackle.
In the preseason tape against the Chiefs, he was a little too aggressive when it came to their waggle packages and defending them. He went hard after the fakes but while reading was reacting in a hurry. Herring isn’t the biggest player weight-wise, so he has to keep himself active to avoid blocks. Works with his hands and feet to keep himself free. Herring is aware to take his hands, jam the blocker, then move to the ball — you see him do this in his special teams as well.
He plays on the edge of the blocker more than square, but he’s effective in the way he does this. When he sees the ball, he will go get it. There were several times where he beat the blockers to the spot and was able to either make the tackle or be near the ball.
If he has an issue as a tackler, it’s not the physical side of wrapping up, but he will over-shoot the ball carrier with his angle because of his aggressive play. There were a couple of snaps where he freed himself but just overran the play. He moves well in coverage and appears to have an understanding of where he needs to be — whether that is in zone or man. He’s aware of crossers in zone and doesn’t labor in his movements — plays with a burst. Judging from the tape, he knows how to work through the traffic, doesn’t get hung up or slowed down.
All of that said, where Herring makes his living is as a special teamer. He plays as the center in the kickoff return, punt return blocker, L3, L4, L5 on the kick off team. He’s the left guard on punt team and field goal rush. On special teams, he showed the same traits he had on defensive snaps — nose for the ball, the use of hands and the wrap up tackle.
He runs well on the cover teams and keeps his eyes open and aware of blockers. Has a plan when he covers. I’d like for him to better a little better on his sustain as a blocker when he becomes engaged. He hustled down the field on the kickoff coverage. In the Dallas game, he was able to control James Hanna at the point, then make the tackle inside the 20 on Dwayne Harris.
With the Cowboys, he will be asked here to be a backup linebacker most likely as a Will but more importantly as a core special teamer in all phases of the kicking game. There are plenty more positives to his game than negatives.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout
MEET YOUR NEWEST DALLAS COWBOYS: Scouting Reports on both new defensive linemen | McClain is a mountain | Mincey is versatile | Free Agents signed
Terrell McClain | Defensive Tackle, South Florida | Height/Weight: 6-2/291
Drafted: Third round, No. 65 overall, 2011 NFL Draft by Carolina
Games Studied: 2013 Seattle, San Francisco, New England and Denver
McClain lined up as a nose tackle in the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme last season, but I think he is a much better fit to play as a one-technique in a 4-3. He played some defensive end in the 49ers game as a reduced end, which allowed him to line up as a three-technique.
The first thing you notice about the player is his ability to sit down at the point of attack. He’s a hard guy to move, knows how to fire his hands inside and control the blocker — really quick hands. This guy plays with some lower body power, as well.
He’s able to control the down blocks from the guard, or deal with the center one-on-one. I like how he is able to fire those hands, then you see him quickly look for the ball carrier — active. Another thing is that he’s always working to get to the ball. He will play down the line and outside the tackle box. For the limited amount of snaps he got, it was rare that you saw him on the ground or stuck on a block. He makes a big effort and hustle plays.
McClain gets away with playing upright at times because of his leverage and upper body strength, but there are also snaps where you see his pad level down and he’s dealing with the blockers. I really like the way he sees the play develop and gets over to the ball.
Against the Broncos, he was able to run down a middle screen because he read the play. The only game where he played a little late off the ball was against the Patriots, and they were able to get on him. He plays with balance to handle the low block. I could see his work as a pass rusher in the Broncos game when Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips played his nickel package the majority of the game. He’s quick off the ball to rush and when he becomes engaged, will use a spin move to try and free himself as he is going up the field.
He showed some athletic ability coming around the edge on the twist stunt — didn’t have a sack against Peyton Manning but did pressure him into throwing the ball away. If you look at his career, McClain has been with two teams that play outstanding defense in Houston and New England, so that tells me that at some point, coaches liked what they saw in his potential value.
Jeremy Mincey | Defensive End, Florida | Height/Weight: 6-4/265
Drafted: Sixth round, No. 191 overall, 2006 NFL Draft by New England
Games Studied: 2013 Denver vs. San Diego, New England (Playoff); 2013 Jacksonville vs. Seattle, Indianapolis.
Mincey was drafted by the Patriots in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Florida and made stops in San Francisco, Jacksonville and Denver. The Broncos used him as a defensive end and three-technique tackle in nickel situations. He played mainly as an end for the Jaguars on either side with some snaps at tackle as well, and that’s where he started the season.
I thought his tape for the Jaguars was a much better indicator of the type of player he is than what he showed in Denver. He did have a sack in the Chargers game with a quick swim move that beat tackle D.J. Fluker to the inside and Philip Rivers had no chance to escape. That was the best quickness that he showed in those playoff games.
He was outstanding in the Jaguars’ game against the Colts that was played in Jacksonville. He was disruptive at end with some quickness off the edge, attacking the up field shoulder of both Anthony Castonzo and Cherilus Gosder at tackle, then moving inside and going to work on guard Donald Thomas.
Bottom line: Mincey showed more consistent pass rush moves while he was with the Jaguars than with the Broncos — rip moves with power and was able to beat the double team. He has some stiffness when he has to come around the corner or adjust in the pocket, when Andrew Luck stepped up in the pocket. Other than the sack against the Chargers, he was a down the middle rusher, that tried to use power instead of quick moves for the Broncos — he had a better combination in Jacksonville.
I thought there was some power in his hands. He snatched Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy out of his stance on a rush, which put Sweezy in a terrible blocking position. I thought he played with better awareness against the run while with the Jaguars, as well. He was more assignment-sure in what his role and responsibilities were.
Mincey struggled when he was on the edge, then the ball went inside of him. In Jacksonville, he played better with his eyes — especially against the Seahawks — when it came to defending the read-option and Russell Wilson.
I liked him chasing the ball earlier in the season; he looked sluggish and lacking a burst when he was trying to run Philip Rivers down to the sideline. It’s not that he didn’t give the effort, but it was like he was running in sand.
To Mincey’s credit, he plays all over the place and my feeling is he will do the same in Dallas. I can see him as a left defensive end, strong against the run with some pass rush traits and kicking inside as that three-technique in the nickel and working from there. He appears to be that wave (rotation) type of player that they are looking for on their front.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout