POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett’s final thoughts on the 2014 Dallas Cowboys Draft | NFL Draft 2014
Post-Draft Press Conference | Player Breakdowns | 32:38 | Dallas Cowboys executives close out the 2014 NFL Draft from Valley Ranch. (Watch | Listen)
Anthony Hitchens primary job will be protecting the Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker investment.
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he saw a player with size who could run in Hitchens, the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick. He also saw a player who could step in at middle linebacker if Sean Lee went down.
“We saw a guy who could definitely improve us from where we were last year when we lost Sean Lee,” Jones said. “Probably, for me, the most important thing is how much of a hitter he is. He blows them up.”
Some believe the Hitchens pick was a reach, but Jones and the Cowboys didn’t.
“I’d say that’s the difference in the eye of the beholder,” Jones said. “He was productive. I think the other thing is that he can play some weak linebacker. He’s obviously got the power and the other thing I can say about him is that he did a good job of dropping back in pass routes. I’m not saying he’s Sean Lee, but he can drop back and get back.”
Head coach Jason Garrett noted the injuries that have happened to their linebackers over the years. Sean Lee’s never stayed healthy for a full 16 games yet in his career. The Hitchens pick allows some protection if that occurs again.
“Guys get hurt,” Garrett said. “So you want to make sure you have enough numbers there, enough competition there so if something does happen to one of your topflight players you can survive and function.”
Garrett also spoke at length after the post-draft press conference about the linebacker position, and there could be more mixing and matching there. DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber will both compete at the strong side linebacker spot, and it’s possible Justin Durant could shift over to the weak side linebacker spot to compete with Bruce Carter.
Ben Gardner, who injured his pectoral muscle at the end of his college career, should be ready to go when the team starts practicing, but there’s another draft pick who may still need some time to get fully healthy.
Jerry Jones said the draft picks are healthy, in general, but wide receiver Devin Street’s shoulder injury might be one to keep an eye on.
Street was limited on the bench press at the NFL Combine, but wide receivers coach Derek Dooley worked him out at Pittsburgh and the Cowboys felt comfortable with where the receiver was at.
“Street’s the one that got a little nick right at the end of the year,” Jones said. “We don’t know, he could actually come in here and do everything at OTA’s. He did three bench presses at 115 at the Combine because he had injured that shoulder at the end of the year. On the other hand, when we went to his workout… it looked ready to roll – his bench press.”
Ahmad Dixon wasted no time, both in his phone call with the Dallas Cowboys and in his conference with media, expressing his emotions and excitement regarding his selection.
There was a ton of silence during the Cowboys call to inform Dixon he’d been selected, and that’s because Dixon was emotional and soaking up the moment with family.
Jerry Jones said that call made him appreciate being in the NFL.
“How in the world do you get to sit here and be lucky enough to be having a conversation, it means that much to him, they’re that emotional about it, celebrating going on behind and literally having an emotional reaction to getting to be a part of the NFL,” Jones said. “I really had an emotional thing along with that. That was unbelievable. He was trying so hard to talk to me.”
Jones said one of the attractions to Dixon, who was taken in the seventh round, was the passion and emotion he plays with. The owner said when the Cowboys hung up the phone, everyone winked at each other and said, ‘That’s a good way to start coming in.”
Jason Garrett would agree.
“I always try to say, ‘It’s a great day for you, but it’s also a great day for us to add you to our football team,’” Garrett said. “But it really is a great day for these guys. You get drafted once. To think that you’re getting drafted into the National Football League by the Dallas Cowboys – it’s a fantastic moment.
“When you pick nine guys, sometimes you can be a little bit numb to that. I think, the conversation we had with him was pretty one-sided, but I think in a lot of ways it indicated how special this opportunity is for all of us. It was really a moment I won’t forget real soon.”
Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys took a long, hard look at the available quarterbacks on Day 3 of the draft, but they opted not to pull the trigger. Surprisingly to many, several high-profile signal-callers slipped to the later rounds, prompting the thought that Dallas could take a late round flier on the likes of Georgia’s Aaron Murray or Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.
Jones wouldn’t get specific, but he said the Cowboys evaluated the position thoroughly before opting away.
“We couldn’t justify it — the way we needed numbers on defense,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on quarterbacks, the entire position, we spent the usual amount of time and evaluated every quarterback in the draft.”
With backup quarterback Kyle Orton missing from voluntary workouts, Stephen Jones also reiterated that the Cowboys have confidence in the other quarterbacks on the roster aside from Tony Romo.
“To tell you the truth, obviously we think a lot of Brandon Weeden – he got drafted in the first round for a reason,” he said.
Stephen Jones also confirmed the Dallas Cowboys signed West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan during undrafted free agency.
(Michael) Sam Linebacker
Being one of the most high-profile figures in football, Jerry Jones was bound to field a question about the drafting of Michael Sam.
Sam made history Saturday evening when the St. Louis Rams made him the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL, as they made him the No. 249th overall pick. Jones said the Cowboys didn’t give any consideration to his sexual orientation when evaluating Sam.
“I was happy to see him drafted because it just shouldn’t be an issue. It shouldn’t be an issue that we made of that,” he said. “I thought there’d be less of an issue made if he were drafted then if he wasn’t drafted, because we’re all aware of the reality that it was the focal point here of what he is relative to that part of the society issue.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICKS: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys DE Ben Gardner, OLB Will Smith, S Ahmad Dixon, DT Ken Bishop, and CB Terrance Mitchell | 7th round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Day 3 of the Dallas Cowboys draft was the busiest by far, with America’s Team selecting seven of their nine players this afternoon.
With all those players to consider, here is a comprehensive scouting report on all five of the Dallas Cowboys seventh round picks.
Ben Gardner – Stanford – DE – 6-4 – 272 – 5.03
Will Smith – Texas Tech – OLB – 6-2 – 231 – 4.59
Ahmad Dixon – Baylor – S – 6-0 – 212 – 4.62
Ken Bishop – Northern Illinois – DT – 6-0 – 306 – 5.12
Terrance Mitchell – Oregon – CB – 5-11 – 192 – 4.61
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Editors Note: Our earlier reports on fourth-round pick (LB) Anthony Hitchens and fifth-round pick (WR) Devin Street can be found here …
- HEAT-SEEKING MISSLE HITCHED: Dallas Cowboys ready to coach up Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens | NFL Draft 2014 – 4th Round
- MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
- TALLER TARGET TAKEN TODAY: Dallas Cowboys shift lanes for Pitt WR Devin Street | NFL Draft 2014 – 5th Round
- MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Street | 5th round NFL Draft 2014
ALTERNATIVE OPINIONS ON THE DALLAS COWBOYS 2014 NFL DRAFT:
Dallas Cowboys: Zack Martin (16th), Demarcus Lawrence (34th), Anthony Hitchens (119th), Devin Street (146th), Ben Gardner (213st), Will Smith (238th), Ahmad Dixon (248th), Ken Bishop (251st), and Terrance Mitchell (254th)
The skinny: We waited a long time between the second and third picks from the Dallas Cowboys, and they reached some for Hitchens, but he provides some size and much-needed depth. Trading up to get Street in the fifth gives Tony Romo another very talented, big wideout. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a lot of those late-round picks make the 53-man roster.
Courtesy: Bryan Fischer | College Football writer | NFL website
1 (16) Zack Martin | OG, Notre Dame
This is a good pick for a team that needed line help. They didn’t get caught up in the hype. The line will be damn good.
2 (34) Demarcus Lawrence | DE, Boise State
Great move by the Cowboys. I had a first-round grade on this kid. They need pass-rush help.
4 (119) Anthony Hitchens | OLB, Iowa
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, and may have been available later in the draft.
5 (146) Devin Street | WR, Pittsburgh
A prolific pass-catcher, Street has good hands and runs clean routes, but doesn’t give the Cowboys much after the catch, and may struggle to beat press consistently out on the edge, in the NFL. Could be a nice slot contributor out of the gate.
7 (231) Ben Gardner | DE, Stanford
Gardner is a bit of a tweener who has battled some injuries, but exhibits toughness and grit, and could earn a roster spot with his ability to shed blocks and wrap up in the trenches.
7 (238) Will Smith | OLB, Texas Tech
Although he plays out of control and needs to get stronger, he is always around the football with his range and instincts and should stand out on special teams.
7 (248) Ahmad Dixon | SS, Baylor
Dixon is an explosive downhill athlete who lives for the big hit. He plays out of control though and lacks top-notch instincts. Needs to improve in coverage, and has been the subject of some character concerns after allegedly assaulting a fan last year.
7 (251) Ken Bishop | DT, Northern Illinois
Naturally powerful athlete with a strong anchor, who lacks initial burst to be a factor as a pass-rusher, but could contribute against the run in a rotation.
7 (254) Terrance Mitchell | CB, Oregon
Decent-sized corner who showed consistent improvement over the course of his college career, but has limited movement skills and will struggle when asked to bump and run on the outside.
Courtesy: Pete Prisco Rounds (1-3) | Derek Stephens Rounds (4-7) | NFL Draft Scout/CBS
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Street | 5th round NFL Draft 2014
Devin Street | Pittsburgh | 6-3/198
Here is a quick scouting report on Pittsburgh wide receiver Devin Street.
Devin Street WR, Pittsburgh Combine Workout
Watch Pittsburgh WR Devin Street work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
(Watch | No MP3)
Secret Audio: Devin Street Selection Call
The Dallas Cowboys War Room calls Devin Street after trading up to select him in round 5 of the NFL Draft.
Devin Street: This Is The Team I Wanted To Go To
Devin Street joined 105.3 The Fan shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys.
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
Listen in as the Cowboys War Room calls Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens to let him know he is about to become a Dallas Cowboy. (Watch | Listen)
Anthony Hitchens: Fortunate For This Opportunity
Anthony Hitchens joins 105.3 The Fan shortly after being selected by the Cowboys in the 4th round of the NFL draft. (Watch | Listen)
Anthony Hitchens Conference Call
Anthony Hitchens speaks to the Dallas Cowboys media shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch | Listen)
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.
At linebacker, the Cowboys have a lot of question marks, from Sean Lee’s injury history, Bruce Carter’s inconsistent play, and the unknown about Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman switching positions.
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)
NFL DRAFT 2014–DAY 3: Top talent still available in rounds 4 through 7
The first 100 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft are in the books, but the talent well is far from dry in this deep class.
The bulk of NFL rosters are built in the final four rounds of the draft, where teams can find future starters or fill spots on special teams. Many picks won’t pan out, but the NFL is filled with third-day success stories, just ask Tom Brady, Jared Allen and the countless number of other examples.
Here is a look at the Top-10 players still available entering the fourth round today:
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)
Secret Audio: DeMarcus Lawrence Selection Call | 2:17 | Listen in as the Dallas Cowboys executives call their second round 2014 NFL Draft selection DeMarcus Lawrence. (Watch | Listen)
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
Name: DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive End | College: Boise State
Height/Weight: 6-3/251 | Age: 21
Honors: Lawrence was named first-team All-Mountain West during both of his seasons as a starter for Boise State. He was named second-team All-America and first-team All-Jayhawk Conference during one season as a starter for Butler Community College.
Key stat: The impetus for Lawrence’s decision to enter the NFL draft was probably the fact that he lived in the opposing backfield last fall. He finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss for the Broncos.
How He Helps the Cowboys: Add Lawrence to the long list of pass rush prospects on the Dallas Cowboys radar. He would have to bulk up to join the defensive line rotation, but he could bring valuable depth to the defensive end spot. Lawrence probably isn’t rated as highly as other defensive end prospects we’ve profiled in this series, but the key is his availability. Top pass rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr don’t figure to be in the Cowboys pick range at No. 16 overall, but Lawrence could potentially be had with their No. 47 pick. It’s doubtful he’d be a Day 1 starter, but he could blossom into a valuable pass rusher.
Scout’s Take: Plays with nice initial quickness. Uses a quick arm over move to get up the field. Will see him get double teamed at times but would like to see him disengage just a tick quicker. When he is one-on-one does a much better shedding the tackle and finding the ball. When he gets up the field, he can quickly retrace his steps. Will work to the edge and can get around the corner quickly. Will fight to work down the line.
Nice balance to chase the ball, plays on his feet. Will bounce off blockers. Will sometimes play as a standup guy. Has some initial pop with his hands. Had a tackle for loss on inside slant. Can get low to the ground to run around the corner. Works hard inside to get to the ball. Will chase to make play, can avoids blocks and burst to the ball. Shoved tackle out of way to shed for a tackle for loss against Utah St. Will try and spin to free himself, very active. Plays with a burst from the backside, quick off the ground, will rally to play. Used hands to shed. Really went after the ball.
Can hurry down the line. Held up at point. Can leverage the tackle, will fire his hands inside. Has some strength when he tackles. Oregon St tackle, tackled him on inside move. Can really run when it comes to chasing the ball, big fan of his ability to sharpen that corner. Plays that right end position that is key in this scheme. Like him a lot.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Related videos …
DeMarcus Lawrence Combine Workout
Watch Boise State DL DeMarcus Lawrence work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
(Watch | No MP3)
DeMarcus Lawrence’s First Interview As A Cowboy
DeMarcus Lawrence joins 105.3 The Fan shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th overall selection. (Watch | Listen)
DeMarcus Lawrence: I’m Going To Put On A Show
DeMarcus Lawrence joins Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, and Rowan Kavner shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch | Listen)
THE COW-BOISE ARE BACK: Dallas Cowboys trade up and rope sack-artist DE DeMarcus Lawrence | NFL Draft 2014 – 2nd Round
IRVING, Texas – The wait wasn’t nearly as long or agonizing on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Dallas Cowboys got in on the second round action early by trading their 47th overall pick and their No. 78 pick to Washington for the No. 34 overall pick. They used the selection on Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
The pick fills an obvious need for a right defensive end, vacated this spring by a sack artist of the same name – DeMarcus Ware. At 6-2, 251 pounds, Lawrence has been projected as a fit in several different schemes, but it’s evident Dallas will use him as a down defensive end.
Lawrence was a first-team All-Mountain West selection both of his seasons as a starter for the Broncos. He made a habit of getting into opponents’ backfields, as he finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss.
Before landing at Boise State, Lawrence was a junior college standout at Butler Community College in 2011. He led Butler as a redshirt freshman with 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He had one season of eligibility remaining at Boise State when he declared for the draft.
This is the third Boise State defender the Dallas Cowboys have taken in recent seasons. Orlando Scandrick was selected in the fifth round, No. 143 overall, in 2008, and Tyrone Crawford was taken in the third round, No. 81 overall, in 2012.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as third best defensive end
IRVING, Texas – Two days before the draft, Jerry Jones had no problems admitting his desire to “replace Ware” in this year’s draft.
Today, Jones and the Dallas Cowboys definitely replaced their “DeMarcus.” Only time will tell if he can fill the void of DeMarcus Ware.
But Boise State pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence will certainly get the chance after the Cowboys made a bold move in the second round, moving up from 47th overall to 34th in a trade with the Redskins, who also received Dallas’ third-round pick. So on a night that was supposed to be a four-hour trek of Day 2 in the NFL draft, it lasted about 15 minutes before Lawrence was picked, ending the Cowboys night rather early.
According to the Cowboys, who admit they have several needs they’d like to address, yielding a third-round pick to land Lawrence was worth it, simply because it fills a need.
Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel Stephen Jones even admitted they might have overpaid for the 34th pick, but did so with the fear of losing Lawrence, whom the Cowboys had rated as the third pass-rusher on their board behind Jadaveon Clowney and Anthony Barr.
“He was the last guy we really had in terms of the right-end spot,” Stephen Jones said. “We knew we might have to give up a little more than maybe the charts read out. That happens sometimes when you want a guy and we really wanted this guy. We didn’t want to lose him. We worked through the deal. We sweetened the pot a little bit and got the deal done.”
Lawrence was one of the 30 players to visit the Cowboys’ facility in Valley Ranch back in April. In fact, he met up with Tyrone Crawford, who left Boise State the year before Lawrence.
“I felt like the Cowboys liked me a lot, but in the draft you never know where they’re going to go,” Lawrence said. “I’m just thanking God for everything and thanking Jerry [Jones] and the staff for trusting me.”
The Dallas Cowboys had some interest in both Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy and Lawrence, who had the edge because of his ability to play the right side, while Ealy’s position isn’t as clear, with the potential to play left or right end, and maybe even inside at tackle.
“There are only a handful of right-end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to get an impact player in this draft,” Jason Garrett said. “He’s got very good pass-rush ability. He can bend and get to the quarterback and make plays. We think a lot of him as a player. The skill-set he brings in. There are a lot of defensive end in the draft but only a few in this draft that can play the right end.”
Obviously, the natural comparison between Lawrence and Ware is inevitable because of the names and position. But owner/GM Jerry Jones said the two are different in how they attack offensive tackles en route to the quarterback.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has, first and foremost, natural pass-rushing instinct,” Jones said. “Not necessarily speed – speed doesn’t get it alone. It’s got to be somebody that just has a knack, a bending, a certain way to maybe a couple techniques. Rod (Marinelli) is high on this guy, I mean real high on this guy.”
After two days of the draft, the Dallas Cowboys have added Notre Dame guard Zack Martin, who will likely step right in on the right side and now Lawrence, who has the chance to compete for a starting job as well.
“After the first two picks we wanted to end up with a starter and a player that could really impact rather than not impact on both fronts – offensive line and defensive line,” Jerry Jones said. “We had various combinations there. We obviously were probably thinking defense first and offense second. We basically have ended up with certainly one of the three options that we had, and we probably addressed a more acute position as a pass rusher then what we were going to do with ‘Willie’ (weakside) if we drafted a linebacker there. So we probably got a better fit here.”
By losing the third-round pick, the Cowboys end Day 2 with just two players instead of three, and currently drops their overall draft-pick total to 10.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the Dallas Cowboys have a pick in the fourth and fifth-rounds and do not have a sixth, before finishing off the seventh round with six picks. Three of those are compensatory picks and are not eligible to be traded.
NFL DRAFT 2014–DAY 3: Top talent still available in rounds 4 through 7
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.”
1st Round Post-Draft Press Conference | 15:59 | Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones, and Jason Garrett field questions from the media about Zack Martin. (Watch | Listen)
Secret Audio: Zack Martin Selection Call | 2:08 | Listen in as the Dallas Cowboys executives call their first round 2014 NFL Draft selection Zack Martin. (Watch | Listen)
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.
The Cowboys have Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau at the guard spots and this move all but eliminate bringing back veteran Brian Waters next season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces the first Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft pick
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.
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 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
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect Kony Ealy | NFL Draft 2014
The Dallas Cowboys aim to improve their roster through the draft. With the 16th pick, the team hopes to select a player that will be an immediate contributor and help the Cowboys for years to come. Here is a look at a prospect who may make sense for Dallas:
Kony Ealy | Position: Defensive End | School: Missouri | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 273
What he’s done: Overshadowed by teammate Michael Sam in recent months, Kony Ealy performed well in his final season at Missouri. He was a first-team All-SEC selection after collecting 9 ½ sacks and 14 ½ tackles for loss in 2013. He also led Missouri with 16 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Ealy opted to forgo his senior season after his strong performance as a junior. At the NFL combine, Ealy didn’t wow scouts or coaches. He completed the 40-yard dash in 4.92 seconds and did 22 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press. He did produce the best time among defensive ends in the three-cone drill, showing agility.
Why he makes sense for the Cowboys: With the departure of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys are in the market for a defensive end who can be a reliable impact player. George Selvie performed well last season, but it’s not clear yet whether he can sustain that level of productivity. New acquisition Jeremy Mincey, has a similarly spotty track record. With the Cowboys unable to lure Jared Allen to Dallas, they still have a need for a defensive end. Ealy, who proved an able pass rusher in the nation’s toughest conference, may be just what the Dallas Cowboys are looking for as they try to fill the mammoth void left by Ware.
How ‘bout a quick look?
Making A Case For Kony Ealy
Join Talkin’ Cowboys as they weight the positives and negatives between two of the top defensive players in the draft. (Watch | Listen)
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect Aaron Donald | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Aaron Donald doesn’t pay much attention to the pre-draft hype, but his mother sure does.
“She’s pretty much looking at Google every day. So every day she says ‘This team says they’re going to draft you this time,’” Donald said. “I’m like, ‘Mom, just don’t look at that. None of that matters until your name gets called.’ But that’s what she does.”
Donald’s mother has that in common with thousands of others, mainly Dallas Cowboys fans, who are bound to be intrigued by the defensive tackle’s visit to Valley Ranch on Monday morning. The All-American from Pitt has been strongly linked to the Cowboys as the possible No. 16 pick since the draft process started, and his selection as one of the team’s 30 pre-draft visitors will do nothing to quell that.
The Cowboys are the third – and at this point final – team Donald has visited with this spring. With his highly-publicized work at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine behind him, Donald said this last bit of draft preparation will ready him for what comes after he is finally picked.
“I’m just staying in the weight room, conditioning, staying in shape – just getting football-ready now,” he said. “It’s been a grind, but I’m just making sure I’m ready for whenever I get picked and drafted so I can be ready for what’s about to come.”
What’s about to come is likely a lofty first-round draft status. Plenty of people think Donald will be unavailable by the time the Cowboys pick at the midpoint of the first round. If that’s the case, he can look back to his eye-catching Combine, as well his decorated college career, as the reasons why.
Donald rose from an unheralded high school recruit with just three scholarship offers to an All-Everything star for Pittsburgh. He capped off his career last fall by winning the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award, in addition to first-team All-America and All-ACC selections.
If some weren’t convinced by his on-field performance, he showed up at the Combine and dazzled with a 4.68 40-yard dash, best among defensive tackles, 35 reps on the bench press, second-best among defensive linemen, and remarkable aptitude in the agility drills.
“They want to see that this guy can do what he does on a football field, but they want to see how you move outside the pads and things like that,” Donald said. “It ain’t nothing but football drills. It’s nothing to be worried about or nervous about – you just have to go out there and do it.”
There’s bound to be those that still doubt him, as Donald’s 6-0, 288-pound frame hardly looks like that of a defensive stalwart. If the accolades don’t sway people, though, he said he’ll let his play speak for itself.
“There’s probably people that are still going to doubt you. It is what it is – I’m still going to go out there and play football the way I do and still have passion for the game the way I do,” he said. “All I can do is keep playing football the way I’ve been playing.”
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli doesn’t sound like someone who needs convincing. Donald is well-familiar with Marinelli’s history of coaching elite defensive tackles, and it seems like a safe bet he’d love a chance to pair the youngster with the Cowboys’ newly-signed Pro Bowler in Henry Melton.
“I had the opportunity to talk to him a couple times at the Combine, I talked to him last night and I talked to him today,” Donald said. “He’s a great coach, and just talking to him and looking in his eyes – the way he talks, he’s got a passion for the game of football and he loves the game of football.
“He loves doing what he does, so that’s a coach I’d love to play for and learn from. Knowing he coached guys like Warren Sapp, that just gets you excited just knowing he’s got history and is one of the best to do it. If I was able to play for Coach Marinelli that would be a blessing, but we’re going to see.”
He’s going to see soon, as a matter of fact. It feels like an eternity since Donald first turned heads in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl, but the NFL draft is now a matter of weeks away. As one of this year’s top prospects, he was invited to watch the proceedings from Radio City Music Hall in New York, but he opted to watch from home with his family.
Home brings an interesting dynamic to the story. As a native of Pittsburgh and a childhood Steelers fan, Donald has heard plenty about that rivalry, as the Cowboys and Steelers have faced off in three Super Bowls.
“I wasn’t born yet when the big rivalry with the Steelers and Dallas started, but you always hear about it getting ready for the draft,” he said. “Everybody in Pittsburgh is saying ‘I hope you don’t go to Dallas.’”
Much like his mom’s reports, Donald said he isn’t paying much attention to that talk, though. With time winding down until the big day, he’s focused on the final destination – of which, he said, Dallas is as good as any.
“I’m like ‘I’ll go to any team that wants me,’ and Dallas is a team I’d love to play for,” Donald said. “Getting coached by Coach Marinelli, one of the best to ever do it — he coached Hall of Fame guys, so I know he can get me to that level I want to play at. I want to be great, and I feel like he can help me do that.”
How ‘bout a quick look?
Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald discusses his biggest fan and inspiration in life as well as how he will celebrate when he’s selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. (Video | Audio)
Making A Case For Aaron Donald
With Aaron Donald in the building for a visit, The Break discussed what makes him such a great fit for the Dallas Cowboys. (Watch | Listen)
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: Dallas Cowboys first-round NFL Draft Prospect Anthony Barr | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Former UCLA standout pass rusher Anthony Barr was two years old when the L.A. Raiders moved back to Oakland and the L.A. Rams moved to St. Louis.
Barr, whose father and other family members played football at Notre Dame, was born in South Bend, Ind., but grew up and attended high school in Los Angeles, without a professional team to pull for in the area.
He watched a lot of the Denver Broncos as a kid in the ‘90s, growing up a fan of John Elway and Terrell Davis. But he didn’t have one “go-to team,” as he put it, and another squad was also on the dial.
“It was always CBS and Fox were the two channels we got out on the West Coast,” Barr recalled. “So Dallas was always on Fox, and I watched them pretty frequently.”
After years of watching the Dallas Cowboys, Barr, a highly sought-after high school running back turned college running back turned standout linebacker and likely first-round pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, could wind up being the second former running back on the Cowboys’ defensive line if he joins Henry Melton in Dallas.
Barring a trade, which is always a possibility with the Cowboys, Barr would have to fall out of the top 10 for that to happen. But he wouldn’t be offended or disappointed if that occurs and he ends up a Cowboy.
“There’s pros and cons to every team and everywhere you go, but if I were a Cowboy, that would be really a blessing, truly a dream come true – a team I watched growing up,” Barr said. “It would just be surreal. I would be really appreciative to be here.”
Barr, who spent his first two years at running back at UCLA before transitioning to 3-4 outside linebacker and racking up 23.5 sacks in just two seasons at the new position, is among the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors.
The Cowboys will have a decision to make if they take Barr, who’s not used to playing in a 4-3 system with his hand on the ground. Barr led the Bruins with 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in his first year at outside linebacker in 2012 and did so once again last year with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 2013.
He’s demonstrated tremendous burst and quickness around the edge, but the Cowboys’ defensive scheme would be new for him. The defensive coaches could make him an outside linebacker, or they could groom him into a defensive end.
Barr said he thinks he can play and produce at either position, as long as he gets an opportunity. He said he’s not sure what he’d be better suited for, considering he’s never played in that 4-3 system, and that as long as he’s on the field, he doesn’t mind the position.
But based on Barr’s visit with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, it seems likely he’ll be joining the position group that the former defensive line coach taught last year.
“I spoke with him at length today,” Barr said. “He showed me a lot of tape of (Julius) Peppers and Simeon Rice and (Warren) Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for.”
Marinelli always refers to his defensive linemen as “rush men,” with the main goal to get up the field as fast as possible. After years of having to read, react and diagnose at linebacker, he’d get the chance to use his skillset as an explosive pass rusher in a new way in Dallas. That’s a situation that excites Barr, who said there’s nothing better than sacking and knocking down the quarterback.
“That’s something I take pride in the last couple years, it’s something I enjoy doing,” Barr said. “So If I’m asked to do that, I’ll be very happy to do it.”
While Barr’s best trait on the field might be his quickness around the edge, he believes his best trait he’ll bring to a team is in the locker room. The former running back brings with him a load of confidence after finally breaking out following the position switch.
“I make those around me better, I believe,” Barr said. “I think being average is something I’ve been before, and I don’t really want to go back to doing that. I think I can excel my game and those around me, and I’m a competitor. I’m a hate-losing, love-to-win kind of guy. Those two things kind of jump out to me.”
It can be an exhaustive process for a potential first-round pick to go through all the scenarios in his head of potential landing spots. Barr said it’s hard not think about where he’ll end up, but he tries not to since he’s already put in most of the work. For now, he’ll sit back and enjoy the pre-draft process and trips, including the one to see the Cowboys this week.
Barr’s trip to Dallas was a first, having visited San Antonio, Houston and El Paso, but never the home of the Cowboys.
He’s used to visiting with plenty of teams given his first-round talent, but speaking with coaches and the familiar faces around the NFL doesn’t get old to Barr, particularly in Dallas.
“If you coach in the NFL, obviously you’re going to get some respect right off the bat,” Barr said. “But these guys that I’ve watched growing up and coaching, it’s just real humbling to speak with these guys. I met Jerry Jones last night, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even talk at first, like, ‘This is Jerry Jones.’ It was a pretty cool experience, so these guys get my respect right off the bat.”
If he falls to No. 16, that cool experience in Dallas may just the first of many for Barr, who could wind up on the same line as Melton and on the same defense as J.J. Wilcox. That would make three former running backs and possible defensive starters in Dallas defying the notion that offensive players don’t like to hit.
“I don’t know whoever said that,” Barr said with a slight grin. “We’re doing all right for ourselves.”
How ‘bout a quick look?
Take a look at the college highlights of UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr (Video | Audio)
NFL COMPENSATORY PICKS: League awards Dallas Cowboys 3 additional picks for 2014 NFL Draft
ORLANDO – The Dallas Cowboys saw their 2014 draft pick total jump from eight players to 11 with one announcement Monday by the NFL.
The league awarded three compensatory picks to the Cowboys – all in the seventh round, giving the Cowboys six in the final round, although those three new picks cannot be traded.
The NFL gave the Cowboys the picks for the free-agent losses of Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, Victor Butler and John Phillips, while only acquiring Justin Durant in free agency.
The Cowboys picked up a seventh-rounder in early September in a trade with Kansas City for Edgar Jones, but lost their sixth-rounder. The Cowboys added a seventh-rounder from Chicago for Dante Rosario, giving them three sevenths, including their own, before Monday’s additions.
The sixth-round pick they acquired from San Diego for Sean Lissemore was traded away to Indianapolis for Caesar Rayford.
The Cowboys do not have a sixth-round pick because of their trade to acquire Edgar Jones. However, if they covet a player in that round, it seems likely they have some firepower in the
seventh to move up. The Cowboys picked up two seventh-round picks in September trades for Sean Lissemore and Dante Rosario with San Diego and Chicago, respectively.
Although they didn’t have a pick in the final round last year, seventh-round picks have been good for the Cowboys in the past. Jay Ratliff (2005) was a seventh-rounder who made four Pro Bowls. Patrick Crayton, Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones all made the team in 2004 after being seventh-round picks and played multiple years.
However last year, the only seventh-round picks on the Cowboys’ roster were not drafted by Dallas –George Selvie and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
The Cowboys have one draft pick in each of the first five rounds, including the 16th overall pick in the first round. The club has not picked 16th since 1961 when they took E.J. Holub, an offensive lineman who eventually went to the AFL and never played for the Cowboys.
2014 NFL DRAFT ORDER: Official round-by-round order including the compensatory draft picks awarded by the league
The official round-by-round order for the 2014 NFL Draft, including the 32 compensatory picks awarded to 13 different teams:
1. Houston Texans
1 (33). Houston Texans
1 (65). Houston Texans
1 (101). Houston Texans
1 (141). Houston Texans
1 (177). Houston Texans
1 (216). Houston Texans
Compensatory picks cannot be traded
PHOTO: Larry Allen (Dallas, Round 2, Pick No. 46 overall, 1994)
Larry Allen is the only compensatory draft pick in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had quite a career in the NFL, starting 197 of 203 games and making 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams. He was voted to both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams.
A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2014 NFL Draft have been awarded to 13 teams.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.
The 2014 NFL Draft takes place on May 8 to 10, and will be televised live on NFL Network.
Here are the teams receiving compensatory picks this year, with the round and overall number of each pick:
Atlanta Falcons: 4th round (139), 7th round (253, 255)
Baltimore Ravens: 3rd round (99), 4th round (134, 138), 5th round (175)
Cincinnati Bengals: 6th round (212), 7th round (252)
Dallas Cowboys: 7th round (248, 251, 254)
Detroit Lions: 4th round (133, 136)
Green Bay Packers: 3rd round (98), 5th round (176)
Houston Texans: 4th round (135), 6th round (211), 7th round (256)
New England Patriots: 4th round (140)
New York Giants: 5th round (174)
New York Jets: 4th round (137), 6th round (209, 210, 213)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 3rd round (97), 5th round (173), 6th round (215)
San Francisco 49ers: 3rd round (100)
St. Louis Rams: 6th round (214), 7th round (249, 250)
Compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in 2014:
Atlanta Falcons: Lost: Brent Grimes, Luke McCown (did not qualify), Christopher Owens, Will Svitek, Vance Walker. Signed: Osi Umenyiora. Baltimore Ravens: Lost: Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams. Signed: None. Cincinnati Bengals: Lost: Josh Brown, Bruce Gradkowski, Manny Lawson, Brian Leonard (did not qualify), Pat Sims, Dan Skuta. Signed: Josh Johnson, Mike Pollak, Alex Smith. Dallas Cowboys: Lost: Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, John Phillips. Signed: Justin Durant. Detroit Lions: Lost: Cliff Avril, Gosder Cherilus, Justin Durant, Drayton Florence, Sammie Lee Hill. Signed: Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin. Green Bay Packers: Lost: Greg Jennings, Erik Walden. Signed: None. Houston Texans: Lost: Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Justin Forsett, Donnie Jones, Glover Quin. Signed: Greg Jones, Shane Lechler, Ed Reed. New England Patriots: Lost: Patrick Chung, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead. Signed: Danny Amendola, Isaac Sopoaga, Will Svitek. New York Giants: Lost: Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, Osi Umenyiora. Signed: Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy, Brandon Myers. New York Jets: Lost: Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Matt Slauson. Signed: Antwan Barnes, Mike Goodson. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost: Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace. Signed: Bruce Gradkowski. San Francisco 49ers: Lost: Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Delanie Walker. Signed: Craig Dahl, Phil Dawson, Glenn Dorsey, Dan Skuta. St. Louis Rams: Lost: Danny Amendola, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner. Signed: Jared Cook, Jake Long.
FUTURE OF THE FRANCHISE: Debating the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys needs position-by-position | NFL Free Agency vs. NFL Draft
We’re conditioned to believe that the Dallas Cowboys won’t be major players when the NFL Free Agency period begins on March 11, 2014 Well, this article may not make you feel any better, but hopefully more informed. With the little bit of cap space they will likely have, here’s were the Dallas Cowboys could spend their money in free agency:
Positions likely to be addressed in free agency:
1.) Defensive tackle. The entire defensive line is basically tied for No. 1 on this ranking scale. Both need to be addressed badly. But with Jason Hatcher likely gone via free agency, Nick Hayden is the only returnee who received major playing time in 2013. A healthy Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford should help here, but another starting caliber player and depth needs to be acquired through free agency and the draft. (Defensive tackle Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears pictured above)
2.) Defensive end. If DeMarcus Ware agrees to a restructure, this group at least has a leg to stand on. If he leaves the Dallas Cowboys, George Selvie and Crawford are the only significant pieces remaining. This is obviously not ideal in a system that is predicated on its front four constantly causing problems for the opposing quarterback. Like tackle, end needs to be addressed in both free agency and the draft.
3.) Safety. This has been a problem area for a long time (for some). Jerry Jones said at the scouting combine last month that he likes where the team is at safety. Barry Church is a solid player when healthy, but there isn’t much proven talent at the position after him. J.J. Wilcox was drafted in the third round last year, but he struggled to establish himself during his rookie season. The jump from Georgia Southern is obviously a big one. Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson would be next in line, but neither should be expected to be a full-time starter this year. The Cowboys could add a veteran safety like they did last season with Will Allen.
4.) Linebacker. If the season started tomorrow, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and DeVonte Holloman would likely be the starters. And the Cowboys have reason to be concerned about all three. Bruce Carter never seemed comfortable in Monte Kiffin’s scheme last season. Holloman is a sixth round pick who doesn’t have much experience. Lee is the best of the bunch – and one of the best in the league – but he can’t stay healthy. Could that mean the Cowboys add a middle linebacker and move Lee to the weakside spot where he could remain a tackling machine but sustain fewer hits? Possibly. The depth at all three positions is thin as well.
5.) Wide receiver. If Miles Austin is cut, adding a veteran through free agency seems like a good idea. There should be some relatively cheap options out there. If not, the good news for the Cowboys is this draft is considered to be very deep at the position. (Editors comment: If the team ultimately decides to cut Miles Austin, it might be worthwhile to consider giving Jason Hatcher those salary dollars and keep him around Marinelli for a few more years.)
6.) Quarterback. If Kyle Orton retires, a veteran backup is critical. Tony Romo will be 34 next month and he has had two back surgeries in the last two years. The Dallas Cowboys need someone that can step in right away if Romo goes down and Orton isn’t on the roster. Even if Orton does play another season in Dallas, adding a cheap third arm through free agency is a possibility as well.
Positions unlikely to be addressed in free agency:
Interior offensive line. Upgrading these positions would likely come through the draft. Travis Frederick is a very solid piece at center and should be starting at that position for a long time. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary will likely be the starters again at guard. The position could certainly use some young depth, though.
Tight end. Jason Witten turns 32 in May, but there’s still tread on his tires. He caught 73 passes for 851 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on Gavin Escobar last year and a sixth round pick on James Hanna in 2011. Both should have a significant role this season.
Running back. DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, and Joseph Randle should all get carries in 2014. Phillip Tanner has been the No. 4 back but the Dallas Cowboys chose not to tender a contract to him, which means he will be a free agent. A replacement for Tanner could be added in the later rounds of the draft or immediately after, via an undrafted rookie free agent.
Cornerback. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, and B.W. Webb will likely be the top four corners entering camp. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see the Dallas Cowboys draft a corner in May, because like pitchers in baseball, you really can’t have too many quality defensive backs in the NFL. Adding an expensive veteran corner through free agency doesn’t make sense.
Special Teams. Kicker Dan Bailey signed a long-term contract extension in January, so he’s not going anywhere. Punter Chris Jones is a restricted free agent and should return. Dwayne Harris has performed well returning kicks and punts, and he should continue to have that role. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley could also help in that area. The biggest upgrade would likely come by adding a defensive back or linebacker in the draft who can also contribute on special teams coverage.
Ten NFL Free Agents that could be a good fit for the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys:
It’s well documented that the Dallas Cowboys won’t be major players in free agency. They recently found enough salary cap space for the current players on their roster. With DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, and other potential restructures still in play, they could clear up some room to sign a couple of the lower priced options.
Here are 10 free agents that could be productive (per DMN staff) for the Dallas Cowboys if they can be obtained at a low price:
Recuperating defensive end Anthony Spencer (pictured above) #93 of the Dallas Cowboys
Defensive End Willie Young #79 of the Detroit Lions (pictured)
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald #69 of the Seattle Seahawks
Defensive tackle Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears
Wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 of the the Tennessee Titans
Wide receiver Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints
Wide receiver Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions
Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes #95 of the New York Jets
Quarterback Colt McCoy #2 of the San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers
2014 NFL COMBINE REPORT: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones discusses team draft needs, salary cap, and contracts
INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t want to focus on just one spot in the 2014 NFL Draft.
He didn’t deny the Cowboys’ obvious wants and needs on the defensive line, but he said Wednesday that teams get in a lot of trouble by narrowing their scope to just one position when it comes time to draft.
“You start targeting something and drafting for need, we all know that’ll get you in trouble,” Jones said. “It’ll be nice to come out of the draft at some point with a defensive front guy, defensive lineman or two. But no, I don’t think we can just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take the first two picks and it’s got to be defensive linemen.’ I think you get in trouble that way.”
Jones said he wants players to be graded based on what they deserve, and he’s talked to the scouts about not grading players a certain way based entirely off team needs. He said the team has to fight that natural urge of grading by need.
He also isn’t worried about getting under the cap, and he doesn’t believe the cap situation makes it impossible to sign Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant to longer deals.
“In some cases, it can help to do deals,” Jones said. “I’d read where someone didn’t understand it, because they said, ‘How did they do (Dan) Bailey? That hurts them this year.’ Well, it didn’t hurt us, it helped us.”
Jones talked at length Wednesday about a variety of other offseason topics as well, from possible restructures to extensions to injuries and scouting. Here’s some notes from those comments.
- Anthony Spencer’s free agency leaves questions about his future with the Dallas Cowboys, but there’s also questions about his health going into 2014 coming off microfracture knee surgery. Jones said it still remains to be seen how healthy Spencer will be at the start of the year as he works the injury and goes through rehab, but he knows Spencer wants to play.
- Jones said the biggest misconception about the draft room is that owner/general manager Jerry Jones just “sits up there and out of the clear blue just grabs a guy and says we’re going to take him.” He said that’s not how it works, and generally there’s a consensus about a player.
“We spend millions of dollars in our scouting department and we spend a lot of money on our coaches and everybody has tremendous input,” Stephen Jones said. “I think it’s a good system.”
- The Dallas Cowboys got a boost earlier in the day by winning the No. 16 pick in a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens, which Jones said can be valuable when trading back based off of trade charts.
- Jones wouldn’t go into details about specific players’ restructures this offseason, but he said every player must be looked at to see the resources being allocated. He said there are still several scenarios, but he’s comfortable with where the team’s at and knows he still has time to get everything settled.
- The fifth-year option on Tyron Smith’s contract has to be made by the spring, but Jones said that won’t take any urgency away from potentially getting a longer deal done with the left tackle.
- Jones said he thought Sharrif Floyd was graded right (2013 NFL Draft) based on his talent, but it’s debatable if he was graded the right way based on the team’s system. The Dallas Cowboys ended up trading back and grabbing Travis Frederick in the first round rather than taking Floyd, who had a first-round grade. Jones said it can be tricky when a team changes a system, and the Floyd circumstances won’t happen again. He knows the team got criticized by some for the move, but he believes they ended up making the right decision based on their defensive system.
- The Dallas Cowboys are looking at their hamstring problems and how to deal with the situation. He said no one’s happy with what occurred, and the team is looking internally to see how to improve the Dallas Cowboys injury problems. They’re also looking at how past teams have stayed healthy and are considering the age of players, their work habits and the shape they’re in.
ROAD TO 2014 NFL DRAFT: Dallas Cowboys can’t let an elite offensive lineman on their draft board slip past them | Dallas Cowboys Draft 2014
The Dallas Cowboys used a first round pick on an offensive lineman twice in the last three years and it’s possible they could make it three in four years. Yes, the defensive line is the biggest area of concern, but the Cowboys can’t let an elite guard or tackle slip past if they’re the top player on their board. The top o-linemen in this class are Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. All three should be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. But here’s 10 offensive linemen that could be available for the Dallas Cowboys throughout the first few rounds.
Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame – Doug Free could be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. Draft Zack Martin (pictured) in May and the Dallas Cowboys could have a bookend to pair with Tyron Smith for a long time.
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia – A solid starter for UVA over the last three seasons. The 6-6, 325-pound right tackle as seen his stock rise into the first round.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama – Another elite tackle option. One of the top rated prospects coming out of high school, Kouandjio has been Alabama’s full-time starter at left tackle the last two seasons.
Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee – If you want experience, this is your guy. James has started a school record 49 games at Tennessee. He is projected to play right tackle in the NFL.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee – He played left tackle for the Vols but might be better suited for the right side in the NFL. Richardson has started all 24 games over the last two seasons.
Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State – He has played guard and tackle in college but projects to be a right tackle in the NFL. Mewhort played in 49 consecutive games for Ohio State, starting the final 39.
Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami – He could be a steal in the second or third round. Henderson’s stock has slipped since telling teams at the Senior Bowl that his suspensions at Miami were because of marijuana use.
Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State – He’s considered by some to be the top offensive guard available in the draft. Gabe Jackson (pictured) could quickly upgrade one of the interior line spots for the Dallas Cowboys.
Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor – A Fort Worth kid who was a two-time All-American, Richardson was a three-year starter for the Baylor Bears. He should come off the board in the second or third round.
David Yankey, OG, Stanford – A two-time All-American that has experience playing left tackle and left guard. He projects as a guard in the NFL and should be among the first few players at that position selected in May.
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