IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys managed to get all nine draft picks signed a month before leaving for training camp.
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.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens | Position: Linebacker | College: Iowa | 6-0/240 | 4.74
He’s a compact looking player on tape. You can see that there is a lot of weight packed on his body. For his bulk, felt like there were some times where he was very physical at the point of attack and then others where he could have done a little bit better job with his shed. He’ll extend his hands. He does a nice job of finding the ball. Big fan of the way that he reacts. He’ll take on in the hole with his shoulder, then work to the ball.
When he lowers his pads, you see a much better player. There were some snaps where he unloaded on the ball carrier. There is some pop with him. He does a nice job of handling the puller on the trap. He needs to get off the block a tick quick at times, but something he will get better at. Will close down in the hole. He’s able to flow to the ball. There were times where he over ran the ball and was very aggressive.
When he can see it, he can make the play. He’s not a fluid-moving athlete in space when it comes to coverage. He’s more of open, drop and float. Didn’t see him drive back to put himself in position. Think he would be a much better player if he didn’t weigh 240 pounds. That might help his quickness, but he’s extremely tough.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Related videos …
Secret Audio: Anthony Hitchens Selection Call
Anthony Hitchens: Fortunate For This Opportunity
Anthony Hitchens Conference Call
HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE HITCHED: Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens | NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys got back into the drafting swing of things today with a fourth-round pick.
Once again, the Cowboys addressed the defensive side of the ball, taking Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
In 2013, Hitchens (6-0, 240) was the Hawkeyes’ team MVP and lead the team with 112 tackles and 13.5 for loss with two sacks.
Hitchens, a second-team All-Big 10 pick in 2013, ran a 4.74 at the scouting combine in February.
The Cowboys nearly went with an outside linebacker with the 16th pick with their eyes on Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, who went one spot ahead to Pittsburgh, leaving them to take Notre Dame guard Zack Martin.
Hitchens is the second defensive player taken by the Dallas Cowboys, who traded up in the second round Friday night for Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence at No. 34 overall. The trade forfeited their third-round pick.
Hitchens becomes the first Iowa player drafted by the Cowboys in 30 years. Ironically enough, in 1984 the Cowboys went with Hawkeye players in consecutive rounds, taking running back Norm Granger and guard Joe Levelis in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Hitchens was a productive tackler at Iowa, and comes with ideal size to play on the inside at the next level. He’s limited in space though. – NFL Draft Scout
Florida native who took initiative to move out of his biological parents’ house and live with a friend’s family in order to attend a better, safer school and remain focused on his football career. High school running back, linebacker and kick returner who had 3,864 career rushing yards and 52 touchdowns — earned four varsity letters in addition to playing basketball and running track.
Bounced between safety, linebacker and running back as a true freshman in 2010, recording nine tackles, zero for loss and zero sacks in 10 games played. Appeared in eight games in ’11, tallying 25-0-0. Missed five games because of a knee sprain. Started all 11 games at Will linebacker in ’12 and notched 124-5.5-1. Was the Hawkeyes’ leading tackler and Defensive MVP in ’13 — started all 13 games at Will and registered 112-13.5-2 with two pass breakups, an interception and two forced fumbles.
Aggressive tackler. Flows fast to the ball (when he sees it) and has good playing range to the sideline. Plays bigger than his size and does not back down from big-bodied blockers or physical runners (see Ohio State). Explosive hitter. Plays with a chip on his shoulder and is highly respected for his work ethic, makeup and overall approach. Is mentally and physically tough. Very durable despite lack of size (missed only one game in career).
Is short and lacks bulk. Tends to play narrow-based and get rooted out of the hole on inside runs. Angles and anticipation could stand to improve — is late to sort out misdirection. Very average cover instincts — often is lured by play-action passing game. See-and-go reactor. Modest production for a weakside position where action is designed to be heavily funneled his way — leaves some on the field.
An active, undersized, run-and-hit weakside linebacker, Hitchens is at his best in a scheme where he is protected and free to run to the ball. Has shown gradual improvement.
Related video …
Anthony Hitchens Combine Workout | 1:32 | Watch Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. (Watch | No MP3)
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: DeMarcus Lawrence will help Dallas Cowboys bolster defensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING — A Dallas Cowboys team that patiently sat and let talent come to them to open the 2014 NFL Draft took a much different approach on the second night.
While the selection of guard Zack Martin in the first round was hailed as a sound approach, it increased the urgency to come out of Friday night’s proceedings with a defensive lineman who could make an immediate impact.
The Dallas Cowboys wasted no time addressing what owner Jerry Jones called an acute need. The team jumped from the middle of the second round to take Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence at No. 34.
“This was a need pick,” Jones said. “The need to have a player that either could put some pressure on the outside or a unique complement, give us two players that have to be blocked.
“He was the only one left on the board we saw that could draw two blocks. The question, in my mind, was just how much you pay for it.”
The team traded its second- and third-round picks (Nos. 47 and 78) to Washington to jump up 13 spots to select Lawrence. Washington responded by taking Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy and Nebraska guard Spencer Long with the two picks.
The Cowboys could have held those picks and had their choice of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or left defensive ends Kony Ealy or Scott Crichton in the third round. Defensive tackle Will Sutton and defensive end Kareem Martin were still available in the third round after Long was taken by Washington.
All of those players visited Valley Ranch and would have addressed the team’s defensive line deficiencies.
But none of those players line up at right defensive end. The Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence rated as the third-best pass rushing end in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr. They gave him a first-round grade as a pass rusher and a high second-round grade overall.
That’s why they were willing to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, a price chief operating officer Stephen Jones concedes is higher than the draft value chart states.
“We really like him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft, and those impact players are high. They are the first- and second-round players.
“He’s got very good pass rush ability. He has a quick get-off. He can bend. He shows that he can get after the quarterback and make plays when you combine his sacks and tackles for loss. He’s just a very productive player over a two-year career over there in Boise.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is an advocate. The Dallas Cowboys need him to provide the edge rush that was lacking last season.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has first and foremost natural pass rushing instinct,” Jerry Jones said. “Not necessarily speed. Speed alone doesn’t get it. It’s got to be somebody that has a knack of bending, maybe a way a couple of techniques.
“Rod is high on this guy. Real high on this guy.”
Jones notes the irony of replacing one DeMarcus (Ware) with another. Lawrence isn’t as fast as Ware. But he’s stronger.
“It’s unfair to compare players,” Garrett said. “That’s not what we’re in the business of doing. We want to choose players who are our kinds of guys.
“He was the guy on the board who best did that for us. This was a way to improve in the front seven.”
No one expects Lawrence to come in and duplicate the kind of production Ware gave the Cowboys before his release this off-season. But Lawrence knows the comparisons are inevitable.
“I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill their shoes.
“I’m my own Demarcus. I don’t like this trying to be nobody else. I’m going to be me.
“I’m going to do it well.”
Courtesy: David Moore | DMN staff
IN THE KNOW
DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive end | College: Boise State
Pick: No. 34 overall (second pick in the second round) | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 251
Notable: Lawrence, one of the Dallas Cowboys predraft visitors, is an exceptional athlete who projects to be a right defensive end, replacing seven-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. In two seasons at Boise State, Lawrence recorded 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Following high school, he played one season at Butler Community College, where he finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. The Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as the third pass rusher on the their board, Jerry Jones said.
Quote: Lawrence on filling DeMarcus Ware’s shoes: “I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all. I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill those shoes.”
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN staff
Related Videos …
2nd/3rd Round Post-Draft Press Conference | 16:45 | Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett discuss their move to trade up and selection of DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end from Boise State. (Watch | Listen)
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Zack Martin will help Dallas Cowboys bolster offensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could’ve grabbed the most polarizing, high-profile quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead, they protected the franchise quarterback that Johnny Manziel would have sat behind to start his career.
Tony Romo can breathe a little easier coming off back surgery knowing the Cowboys stayed put with the No. 16 pick and continued to bolster the offensive line, selecting Notre Dame’s Zack Martin.
“It means everything,” Martin said. “I couldn’t be happier to come down to Dallas and be a part of the great organization, this great storied organization. I’m very excited to come down there and start competing.”
Martin, a 52-game starter in college, gives Dallas three first-round picks on the offensive line and adds another youthful piece to a completely revamped part of the team. A part of the team considered a weakness a few years ago is now rebuilt with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Martin.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the best teams in the league can control the line of scrimmage by building their infrastructure. He believes the Cowboys have done that with their recent first-round picks.
“We had a great start with that by drafting Tyron Smith, added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick,” Garrett said. “We feel like Zack Martin’s in the same mold of those kinds of guys. We just think he’s a darn good football player. We evaluated him against some of the other guys all across our draft board. He consistently came up as one of the best players in this draft.”
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys refused to listen to offers.
Each team gets 10 minutes to make their selection in the first round, and Jones said the Cowboys spent around eight or nine minutes evaluating offers on the phone.
At first, Jones described them more as “semi-offers.” He came back to say there were technically some firm offers, but none the Cowboys were willing to bite on. Eventually, Jones and the Cowboys decided to add to their strong presence on the line with Martin.
He’s the third first-round pick the Cowboys have used on an offensive lineman in the past four years, and his ability to play both guard and tackle gives Dallas options now and in the future.He’ll begin his career as a guard, according to Garrett.
For Martin to start on the interior, he’ll have to beat out one of last year’s starters in Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary. Garrett didn’t want to declare whether Martin will begin as a right or left guard, but believes he has the instincts and intellect to play across the line.
Martin, a tackle at Notre Dame, demonstrated his ability to bump inside with ease at the Senior Bowl.
“A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “So, initially we’ll give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there.”
After last year’s struggles on defense, that side of the ball’s been hailed as the priority heading into the draft. But many of the Cowboys’ prime targets fell off the board prior to the selection, including Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr and Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Jones said those three defenders, along with Martin, were their top targeted players at No. 16.
All the safeties in the draft were still on the board when the Cowboys picked, as well as the most dazzling quarterback prospect on the board. Speculation started to build as Manziel, a player some believed would be too intriguing for the Dallas Cowboys to pass on, began to fall down the board.
But Jones and the Cowboys didn’t want a quarterback.
Jones said Romo, by contract and the Cowboys commitment, will be the quarterback in Dallas for years to come.
“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We were strong in the quarterback position, in our minds. The fact that Martin was there mitigated any consideration of a lot of things.”
That doesn’t mean Manziel’s presence at No. 16 didn’t come as a bit of a surprise.
“I was surprised, yes,” Jones said. “But what I was even more surprised is the fact that he was there didn’t bring on a bonanza of offers that would have given us, maybe, more options. I was also surprised, frankly, that we had the option to take Martin.”
As the draft shifts to Day 2 and the second and third rounds, the biggest needs remain on defense. Jones wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of another offensive pick, but after finishing last in the league on defense, he admitted the team needs a defensive player more than an offensive player.
Garrett’s also aware of the needs, but he’s glad the Cowboys were able to snag Martin.
“You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available,” Garrett said. “We felt like we did that today.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting reports on Dallas Cowboys OL Zack Martin | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
Name: Zack Martin | Position: Offensive Tackle/Guard | College: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4/308 | Age: 23
Honors: Martin was named a team captain his final two seasons and helped pave the way as the starting left tackle for the Irish to reach the BCS national championship game in 2012. He was named the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl in 2013 and was on the Lombardi Award Watch List and Outland Trophy Watch List beginning all the way back in 2011.
Key stat: The Notre Dame lineman started all 52 games from 2010 to 2013, primarily as the left tackle, setting a new team record among offensive linemen. Despite his stability on the left side of the line for the Irish, some believe he still has the ability to bump inside at the next level.
How He Helps the Cowboys: While the focus heading into this draft and free agency will undoubtedly be on the other side of the line, the Cowboys could still use some help and depth on the inside of their offensive line. The upside with Martin is he has the flexibility to be used inside or outside. If the Cowboys want him to play guard, they can utilize him there until they believe he’s ready to take on the best pass rushers in the game as an offensive tackle.
MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: America’s Team takes “Midwestern Mauler” over “Mini-Manziel” | Notre Dame OT/OG Zack Martin picked at Sweet Sixteen | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to pick the highest profiled player in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But instead, with the 16th overall pick, the Cowboys committed to the offensive line for the third time in four years. Dallas selected Notre Dame’s versatile OT/OG Zack Martin, the first guard taken in the draft.
By doing so, Dallas passed on Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who has been projected to go anywhere from the top three picks to even later in the first round.
Martin (6-4, 308) is expected to play guard right away but could perhaps move out to offensive tackle and even center, if needed.
He started 52 consecutive games for the Fighting Irish, winning MVP honors in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl. Martin was on several Watch Lists including the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.
In 2011, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick becoming the first offensive lineman taken in the first round since 1981. Last year, the Cowboys took Travis Frederick with the 31st pick in the draft.
Dallas Cowboys select Zack Martin with Sweet Sixteen pick | The Dallas Cowboys select Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Video courtesy of NFL Network. (Watch | No Audio)
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys 7-Round 2014 NFL Draft Simulation | Final NFL Mock Draft 2014
Draft Show: Full Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Simulation | Join Dane Brugler (NFL Draft Scout/CBS), Dave Helman, Bryan Broaddus, and Ed Cahill as they simulate all seven rounds of the Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft. (Watch | Listen)
RELATED: Final 2014 Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft
IRVING, Texas – The 2014 NFL draft is finally here, and with it comes the final opportunity to predict the Dallas Cowboys picks.
The names surrounding the Dallas Cowboys No. 16 (overall) pick should all be familiar by now, but there’s no clear-cut consensus on what Dallas should do with its first pick – located right in the middle of the first round. That difference of opinion is perfectly illustrated in this week’s mocks, as all five writers selected a different first round choice.
WR – LSU
G/T – Notre Dame
QB – UCF
OLB – Ohio State
DE/LB – UCLA
DE – Boise St.
DE – Oregon St.
DT – FSU
WR – Indiana
DT – Florida
OG – LSU
WR – LSU
WR – Indiana
CB/S – FSU
OG – Furman
DE – UCLA
DT – Princeton
DE – West Virginia
DE – Louisville
DE – Arkansas
LB – Boston College
RB – FSU
OLB – Florida
RB – Oregon
WR – Oregon
QB – Virginia Tech
OLB – Michigan State
RB – Alabama State
C/G – Notre Dame
OT – OK State
OG – Nebraska
DE – Concordia
C – UNC
S – Baylor
DE – Bloomsburg
CB – Baylor
DE – Bloomsberg
CB – Alabama
DE – West Texas A&M
DT – Texas
DT – Southern Mississippi
G – Tennessee
OLB – Notre Dame
TE – Utah
RB – Coastal Carolina
OLB – Shepherd College
DE – South Carolina
TE – McNeese St.
WR – Tulane
CB – NW Missouri St.
Van Der Kamp
P – Iowa State
QB – SMU
S – Arizona St.
CB – SMU
OT – Baylor
Bryan:There is no doubt in my mind that they are hunting for a right defensive end in this draft but with the 16th pick, the guy they want in Anthony Barr is off the board. I believe Aaron Donald will be gone as well. If they cannot move, then the consideration becomes Zack Martin, Odell Beckham and Ryan Shazier. If this is the case, I they might believe they could grab a receiver later and take Shazier but the value of Beckham is much too good to pass up here and make him the selection. I am very excited about the selection of Cassius Marsh, defensive end and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and what they can bring to the defensive. Khyri Thornton also helps me along the defensive line at that one technique. I am also looking for traits late in the draft and quarterback, Logan Thomas surly fits that bill.
David: I just can’t talk myself into Barr or Donald being available, but Martin should make an immediate impact on the offensive line. Crichton falling to No. 47 likely requires some luck, but I think he’s a Day 1 contributor if so. With both lines addressed, the Cowboys are free to take a fantastic slot receiver in Landry – again, I’d expect him to play behind Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams from the outset. If Reid is available to bolster the defensive tackle depth in the fourth round, I’d have to consider that a steal – most see him as a three-technique, which the Cowboys covet. Taking a running back seems like a luxury, but Freeman is a hard runner and a good blocker, making him a good insurance policy for DeMarco Murray. With the slew of seventh-rounders, I’m going defense-heavy – specifically defensive end. Hopefully someone turns into something special. Gilbert, who played just down the road, could be an interesting project.
Ed: I might be crazy. Jerry Jones told us it wasn’t a priority in his pre-draft press conference. The hype at the QB position has been on Johnny Manziel. Why am I picking Blake Bortles? I think the Cowboys will be wiped out at 16, and he may be the best option available. Yes, he won’t play this year (hopefully), but I’m taking this pick and investing in a very bright future if he is available. Moving forward, I think the Cowboys will end up with Timmy Jernigan one way or another in this draft. They could take him in a trade back scenario, or grab him if he falls into the second. You’ll see that Nick has Cody Latimer in the second, and that is probably more accurate, but with the wealth of receivers in this class I’m hoping he might be available in the third. The rest of my draft addresses some needs and takes some risks. Overall, I’d be very happy with this class if it turned out this way.
Nick:My trade last week didn’t sit well with everyone so we nixed all trades, otherwise I’d stick with Anthony Barr, but I just don’t see him being there at 16. Shazier would be a really good solid pick who steps right in and starts at one of the two OLB spots. Latimer might not last to 47 and the same could be said for Joyner, a versatile player in the secondary. Smith gives the team more depth up front. Not sure if the Cowboys like Thomas at all, but if you’re good enough for an SI cover, good enough for me. I think he’s a dynamic player who makes a difference. If Dixon falls to the seventh, Cowboys could get a steal in a physical player with good speed. Westbrooks is the only player I’ve kept on my mock all three times.
Rowan: I think the most likely scenario is the Cowboys end up trading out of the 16th pick, but for mock draft’s sake, I don’t think the Cowboys would pass if Barr’s there. That’s the only way I think they stay put. They need to help their defensive line, and the Cowboys have had a history of turning second-round picks who fell from injury into starters. If Easley can stay on the field, this could end up being the best pick of the draft. The Cowboys need more interior linemen, and I suspect they grab help there in the middle rounds. Dozier fills that request. I think their next pick is a Smith – whether it’s Telvin, Marcus or Chris. The other two are gone, and Chris Smith fits the pass-rushing bill. Huff’s been a constant on my mock drafts, and I think the dynamic player complements the other receivers.
PICKIN AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys to host NFL Draft Party from AT&T Stadium | 2014 NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys fans living in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area will have the opportunity to take in the NFL draft in style tomorrow night.
KEEPIN’ UP WITH THE JONES’: Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference with Jason Garrett | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – If all goes according to plan, the Dallas Cowboys will be welcoming more than just new rookies to their practices this summer.
The Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference was called with the intention of discussing the approaching NFL draft, but it served as a perfect opportunity for Cowboys brass to address the rehabs and availability of several prominent veterans returning from injury.
Will McClay, the Dallas Cowboys assistant director of player personnel who has recently ascended to one of the top positions in the organization.
As the scope of McClay’s role has increased, so has the intrigue surrounding him. In short time, McClay has become the mythic figure of the Cowboys’ off-season.
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys linebacker position is loaded with question marks | Dallas Cowboys Draft 2014
The Dallas Cowboys linebacker position is loaded with question marks from top to bottom. That uncertainty also puts the level of priority to address this position in question as well.
PICKIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Your 2014 Dallas Cowboys Draft Guide | NFL Prospect Rankings: Defense | Special Feature
Defensively, the Dallas Cowboys are in a “trenches transition” going into the 2014-2015 NFL season. If everyone stays healthy, the free agency losses (and gains) from the offseason could be somewhat manageable … assuming the draft goes well and DeMarcus Ware’s productivity can be filled by a committee of blue-collar Marinelli-Men.
IRVING, Texas – By this point in the draft cycle, you’ve likely heard of most of the guys on this big board. At the same time, you’re bound to notice some big names missing from the list – there’s no Teddy Bridgewater or Kelvin Benjamin to be found here.
After plenty of hours studying the tape, this is simply the 50 best targets in the 2014 NFL Draft – from obvious stars to some lesser-known surprises. This should give some idea of what to expect in the first two rounds of the draft, and who the Cowboys may have a chance of taking.
POINT AND COUNTERPOINT: Kyle Orton’s status should alter QB draft plans | With or without Orton, drafting QB isn’t crucial
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys need to know about Kyle Orton’s future before next Thursday.
That’s not a request or a threat from the team, it should just be more of a courtesy on Orton’s part as the Cowboys prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft and decide whether or not to select a quarterback.
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: True Blue fans also preparing for the Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft | NFL Draft 2014 | Special Feature
The Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft is now only 11 days away. We want True Blue Dallas Cowboys fans even more prepared for the upcoming draft than your average fan around the league. This article also introduces Dallas Cowboys players and coaches. These interviews and features shows a personal side to some of these key people in the Dallas Cowboys organization.
Take time to view The Blitz television series and latest Dallas Cowboys Draft shows on your PC or phone. All of the (much smaller) audio files can be downloaded to your computer or phone and listened to at will.
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: NFL Draft prospects may help address needs at offensive guard and center | Dallas Cowboys Draft 2014
As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches on May 8-10, we’ll analyze every position, including the Dallas Cowboys needs and which players might be targeted with their 11 picks. Today features options regarding the offensive guards and centers.
FIRST-ROUND FLURRY FACTOR: History shows that Jerry Jones may reshape the 2014 NFL Draft | Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Mock drafts might want to skip Dallas at 16, if history’s any indication.
Six of the past seven years, the Dallas Cowboys traded the first-round pick they were slotted for based on their record the previous season.
Most recently, the Cowboys traded from No. 18 to No. 31 in the first round in 2013 and picked up a third-round pick from San Francisco to select center Travis Frederick and wide receiver Terrance Williams, respectively, while the 49ers used their pick at No. 18 on safety Eric Reid.
It marked one of many first-round trades around the NFL in 2013, and it was a decision that appears to have paid off for both teams, though only time will tell.
The choice to trade down occurred one year after trading with the Rams to move up from No. 14 to No. 6 and grab cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys forfeited their second-round pick in the process – a pick the Bears then traded up for to grab wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Rams took defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the No. 14 pick.
The 2011 NFL Draft marked the only time since 2007 the Cowboys stayed put and used the pick they were scheduled to have based on their record. They took Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick overall and found their future star left tackle and would follow that pick up with Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray.
Each of the four drafts prior to the Smith pick, the Dallas Cowboys made moves either up, back or out entirely.
Dallas lacked a first-round selection in 2009 after trading its No. 20 overall pick as well as a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick for wide receiver Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick. The Lions used that first-round pick on tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The Cowboys also traded their only second-round pick that year to Buffalo for third and fourth round choices.
That 2009 draft will go down as one of the Cowboys’ least successful in recent memory. None of the Cowboys’ 12 picks that season are still with the team, and most of them are no longer in the league. (Editors note: The 2009 NFL Draft was not particularly good for any NFL team.)
The Cowboys ensured they wouldn’t wait around on talent a year later in 2010, trading their first-round pick at No. 27 and a third-round pick to move up for the Patriots’ first-round pick at No. 24 and a fourth-round pick. Dallas selected Dez Bryant at No. 24, while New England selected cornerback Devin McCourty at No. 27. The Cowboys also moved up a round later and traded their second and fourth round choices to the NFC East-rival Eagles to grab Sean Lee.
Both trade-ups in the 2009 scenario worked out for Dallas. The first-round trades in 2007 and 2008 were a bit more confusing to follow.
In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys traded their No. 22 overall pick to the Browns (who selected Brady Quinn), to grab the No. 36 overall pick and a 2008-first rounder. The Cowboys then traded that No. 36 pick to the Eagles, who landed Kevin Kolb with the selection, along with a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick to move back in the first round and select Anthony Spencer. There were a lot of moving parts, but in the end the Cowboys netted a Pro Bowl defensive end.
Their 2007 trade with Cleveland allowed the Cowboys to select Felix Jones in the first round at No. 22 overall in 2008. The Cowboys also moved up that year from No. 28 overall to No. 25 overall in a trade with Seattle that brought cornerback Mike Jenkins to Dallas. The Cowboys also dealt fifth and seventh round picks in the process.
The only year the Cowboys stayed put resulted in success in 2011. The Cowboys experienced varied successes and failures by moving up and down the last seven years, going to show there’s not always a black and white answer for the best decision from draft to draft.
WAR ROOM SNEAK PREVIEWS: Annual NFL Pre-Draft visits are a window into most of the Dallas Cowboys recent draft picks
IRVING, Texas — In the coming weeks you will hear about NFL teams bringing in college players from around the country for the annual pre-draft visits. Each club is allowed to bring 30 players into their complex up until the week before the actual NFL draft.
These players will have the opportunity to visit with the front office and coaching staff for group or one-on-one meetings, tour the complex and take a physical if necessary. The clubs are not allowed to work these players out unless it is that player’s hometown, or if the school they attended is in the metro area of that team’s complex.
Earlier in the year, teams had the opportunity to visit with most these players for just fifteen minutes while they were in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. During these official visits, the clubs are allowed to keep the players overnight and then meet with them the entire next day if necessary.
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Will McClay, along with the coaches and scouts will be able to interact with these players in a more comfortable setting. They can sit down and watch game tape with the players, as well as test them on X’s and O’s to see their ability to retain information.
Coaches always welcome the opportunity to sit down with players and see what makes them tick. There were numerous times in my experiences preparing for a draft where a coach did or did not like what he heard from a player in one of the pre-draft visits.
I remember an example from Randy Moss’ pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch. The wide receivers coach at the time, Dwain Painter, brought up in a final draft meeting with Jerry Jones that he was turned off by Moss and his attitude. That feedback ultimately affected Jones’ decision not to draft him.
In these pre-draft visits you will hear about names like Aaron Donald and Kony Ealy, who are likely first round picks. But there will be other names on these visits that will be considerations much later in the draft. Maybe these players didn’t have a chance to go to the Combine and the club needs a physical on them before the draft. During this period, this is where you will see those physicals take place.
Along with the annual Dallas Day, these pre-draft visits are vital to working toward building the final draft board that the Cowboys will use. Impressions good or bad will shape that board and ultimately shape this team. As we start to bring you news of who is visiting Valley Ranch, pay close attention who they are because trust me, other teams around the league sure are.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys’ pre-draft visits headlined by top defenders
To get a clearer understanding who the Dallas Cowboys might take with their 16th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, keep an eye on who their bring in for pre-draft visits, starting today and running through Wednesday.
The Cowboys are allowed to bring in 30 top prospects for national visits and considering the names reportedly already here or on the invite list for the up close and personal meet and greet, targeting the defense is the obvious focal point.
Many of the prospects came in Sunday night.
The expected visitors include Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (pictured above), Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, Arizona State defensive end Davon Coleman, Southeast Louisiana State defensive tackle Jerrod Black, Northwest Missouri cornerback Brandon Dixon, Northern Illinois strong safety Jimmie Ward.
These visits are important considering that DeMarcus Ware in 2005 and Morris Claiborne in 2012 were the only top picks taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the past nine drafts who didn’t make pre-draft visits to the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.
Travis Frederick in 13, Tyron Smith in 2011, Dez Bryant in 2010, Jason Williams in in 2009, Felix Jones in 2008, Anthony Spencer in 2007 and Bobby Carpenter in 2006 were among the pre-draft visitors the year they were taking first by the Dallas Cowboys.
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect C.J. Mosley | NFL Draft 2014
Linebacker C.J. Mosley | College: Alabama | Height/Weight: 6-2 / 234 | Age: 21
Honors: Butkus Award winner in 2013 as nation’s top linebacker. Took home SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and was a first-team All-American and All-SEC pick in 2012 & 2013. To wrap up his junior season, Mosley earned Defensive MVP honors in the 2013 BCS national championship game vs. Notre Dame, recording eight tackles. He was voted a freshman All-American in 2010.
Key stat: Played in 51 of 53 games in his four-year career in the rugged SEC. His only two games he missed – in 2011 of his sophomore year – occurred from a dislocated elbow injury midway through the year.
Where He’s Projected: His projection is tricky because of his medical history. While he’s only missed two games, he’s got plenty of bumps and bruises, including a shoulder injury that prevented him from participating in every drill at the combine. Mosley is still considered a mid- to late-first round pick. There is a good shot he’d be sitting there for the Cowboys at No. 16.
How He Helps the Cowboys: An established, heady linebacker that knows how to get to the football would be useful for all defenses, no matter if it’s a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Mosley has the instincts to play middle linebacker but would likely be better suited for the outside right now. He’d help the Cowboys if he could come right in and be healthy enough to start. However, there’s no guarantees he’d beat out Bruce Carter, or even the promising young backers such as Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman. But Mosley has plenty of talent and with a linebacker corps that has been hit hard by the injury bug, especially to middle linebacker Sean Lee, acquiring playmaking depth here would be a great asset.
Scout’s Take: Mosley is one of those players you need to keep an eye on for the Dallas Cowboys in this draft. His grade on the board will most likely allow him to be available when it comes time to select.
Physically, he is an impressive player in regards to his ability to take on blocks, disengage and finish the play. H keeps his feet active, and is wrap-up tackler – he gets his man on the ground with force. He’s more than willing to step up and take the fullback on in the hole. Has the awareness and vision to work down the line. Does a nice job of getting to the ball once he sees it — will play around blocks and can avoid men on the ground.
Tends to use his shoulder more than his hands to play off blocks, which is surprising because of the issues he has had with his shoulder. Reads then attacks the ball. Can knife through inside. Physical in the hole. Will step up and make the play. Has a feel for how to make plays at the point of attack. Does not get knocked back. Reads the quarterback’s eyes in his drop. Can tackle big backs in space, no problem.
Importantly for the Cowboys, Mosley has a feel for how to rush the passer. He will retrace his steps when he rushes the passer to get back to the ball. More power than technique here. Good to read in the flat and react. Can get in the throwing lanes and knock the ball down.
Another key for the Cowboys is that Mosley shows the awareness to play in pass coverage. Nice change of direction in his game. Doesn’t struggle in movement, despite his size. Doesn’t give up on the play, and he will play off the block and chase the ball. Had problems with his balance in the Texas A&M game.
I think he’d most likely play as a Mike or Sam linebacker in this scheme. I believe he could cover well enough to play in the middle of the defense. More explosive than he is quick or fast – the type of guy that can be a load at the point when taking on blocks. Has a nose for the ball and can finish. Is the best middle linebacker in the draft. Of course, you have to know that he has an injury history. No doubt that he is a first round talent. Was the backbone of a nationally-ranked defense and is the type of talent that you plug in and play with. – Bryan Broaddus
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix | NFL Draft 2014
Safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix | College: Alabama | Height/Weight: 6-1/208 | Age: 21
Honors: As a junior starter in 2013, Clinton-Dix was one of the consensus best defenders in the nation. His 46 tackles and two interceptions earned him first-team All-SEC and All-American honors, despite serving a two-game suspension during the season. He also earned SEC and national championship rings as a member of Alabama’s 2011 and 2012 championship squads.
Key stat: Clinton-Dix’s abilities in coverage have drawn praise, as many scouts consider him a center fielder-type safety. Although he managed just two picks in 2013, he did intercept five balls during his junior campaign.
Where He’s Projected: Depending on who you ask, Clinton-Dix is either the best or second-best safety in this draft – coupled with Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. Both players are considered locks to go in the first round, and the drop off to the next-best safety after them looks considerable. It’s a pretty safe bet Clinton-Dix won’t last too far past the middle of the first round – if he makes it that far.
How He Helps the Cowboys: The play of rookie safeties J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath wasn’t exactly inspiring for anyone that watched the Cowboys last fall. It’s true that both players were rookies, and it’s also true that the Cowboys just spent a third round pick on Wilcox. There’s still a common opinion that this team doesn’t have a good cover guy among its safeties. A player as talented as Clinton-Dix would have to be considered a good bet to vie for a starting spot, despite his shortcomings.
Scout’s Take: Like all defenders in Nick Saban’s Alabama scheme, this guy is not afraid to mix it up. He’ll come forward to force the run — a downhill player that will get to the ball.
He has shown at times that he doesn’t take great angles, and that will put him in some awkward positions. But when he does take the correct path, he will wrap the ball carrier up – and I have also seen him use a block down tackle or low tackle in space.
Clinton-Dix is one of those players that will hustle to chase the play — no matter where the ball is, he is going to be running. He will throw his body around, and he showed the ability to take on blocks off the edge and work to the ball.
He has some Barry Church in him, in the sense that he will try and go for the strip to try and cause a turnover. He can separate the ball with a big hit and is not afraid to light the ball carrier up. In the same way, he will play down in the box and get in the middle of the action.
Clinton-Dix does a nice job of reacting to the ball in front of him. When he sees it, he goes after it – he can pedal, plant and come forward.
One of his strengths in coverage is his awareness in getting to the flat. He reads the backs and tight ends in routes. In Alabama’s game tape against Texas A&M, he did his best to come off the hash to defend a ball along the sideline. He tried to get there but arrived a step late. You don’t see him put in many situations where he has to cover, but he plays like he has smarts and awareness. He did show better range in A&M game than any of the other ones.
I respect his game because of how physical he can be at times. And if you’ll remember, a similar Alabama safety that Tampa took named Mark Barron wasn’t put in many coverage situations while in college.
He will no doubt need some experience here. I see him more as a strong safety than as a free in this scheme. — Bryan Broaddus
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect Louis Nix III | NFL Draft 2014
Defensive Tackle Louis Nix III | College: Notre Dame | Height/Weight: 6-2/331 | Age: 22
Honors: Nix was named first-team All-Independent for three straight seasons, from 2011-13.
Key stat: Unusual for a defensive tackle, Nix led all defensive linemen in tackles during Notre Dame’s 2012 run to the BCS Championship Game. He recorded 50 tackles in 13 appearances — 11 of them starts. In 2013, he finished third among defensive linemen with just 27 tackles, though he appeared in just eight games.
Where He’s Projected: To get a gauge on where Nix will go, you have to consider the type of scheme being used by the teams looking at him. He is widely considered one of the top three or four defensive tackles in this draft, but most agree he fits best as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense — his college position. Because of that, his role within a defense seems likely to influence his draft positioning. All of that said, he looks like a likely first or early second round pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys: There’s no doubt the Cowboys could use the help at the defensive tackle position, but it’s not clear how much that pertains to Nix. His likely position in Rod Marinelli’s defense would likely be a one-technique defensive tackle, while the Cowboys would prefer to add another three-technique. Still, if Dallas does wind up selecting the Notre Dame product, Nix has proven plenty capable of being disruptive. He managed 9.5 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at nose tackle for the Fighting Irish.
Scout’s Take: This is a large, thick player — a hard guy to move off the line, who is able to get a push with power. Nix can hold the point of attack and knock the blocker off balance with his shot. He will chase down the line, he doesn’t just stay in one spot. Impressively for a guy his size, he can avoid the low block, but he doesn’t possess many, if any, pass rush moves.
What Nix can do is fight through double-team blocks — he plays like a two-gap nose tackle in the way he reads the play. Overall, he doesn’t play with his hands as consistently as I would have liked, but he played better in later games.
He has surprising lateral quickness, and he’s been used on twist stunts — but I didn’t see the quickness to get around the corner for him to do that all the time. He needs better pass rush moves, but he has shown a good quick-arm move that he used effectively against USC. And he will try to make back door plays.
I feel like his best position would be as a 3-4 nose tackle, but he is active enough to maybe consider trying him as a one-technique defensive tackle in this 4-3 defense. — Bryan Broaddus