Garrett Further Dialing Up Competition On Cowboys Roster With UDFA Signings

In an interview with ESPNs Trey Wingo immediately after the draft, Jason Garrett explained what the Cowboys draft philosophy was. Garrett introduced Cowboys Nation to the concept of the Right Kind of Guy, but also talked of creating competition with the picks a little further down the draft order:

"The most important thing is we talk about what it means to be a Dallas Cowboy, the kind of guys we want on our football team. If you look at the guys we've selected, each of these six guys represents that. They're good football players. The top three guys are from big schools. They're prominent players at that school, they have production at a high level."

"And then as we've gotten a little further down in the draft we've been able to take some guys who we think can fit a particular role for us. At least to create some competition on our football team."

With all the enthusiasm about the RKG approach, we might have missed the importance Garret placed on competition, but that was resoundingly reinforced by the UDFAs the Cowboys picked up over the last two day.

Remember who the Cowboys drafted from the 4th round on down? Two linemen, a corner, a wide receiver and a fullback. And what positions did the Cowboys sign in UDFA? Three more linemen, four more defensive backs and two more receivers, as well as a bunch of players at others positions. Details after the break.

The Cowboys have signed 20 UDFAs so far. Nine of those signings fall into position groups that the Cowboys already fortified with draft picks in April:

Drafted Undrafted
Pos. Group
Name Pos Name Pos College
Offensive linemen David Arkin OT/OG Kevin Kowalski OC Toledo
Bill Nagy OC/OG Jose Acuna OL Nevada
    Laupepa Letuli OT/OG Hawaii
Secondary Josh Thomas CB Mario Butler CB Georgia Tech
    Chris Randle CB Utah State
    Justin Taplin-Ross S Utah
    Collin Zych
S Harvard
Receivers Dwayne Harris WR Lyle Leong WR Texas Tech
    Raymond Radway WR ACU

The remaining UDFA class contains four defensive linemen and a motley assortment of other positions, including one player each at kicker, punter, long snapper, QB and running back.

Some Cowboys fans have already expressed their disdain at what they perceive to be a weak free agent class this year. Nobody is expecting more than a handful of these UDFAs to remain with the Cowboys, but what we can expect is significant competition at the three key spots above.

"What we’re trying to do on our offensive line and throughout our team is to create competition," Garrett said in another of his post draft press conferences. "We want to bring good football players in and we want guys to earn their job."

If you're looking for some interesting position battles in camp, watch the three position groups above. As it stands today, 10 returning players on the O-line from last year (excluding Davis and Colombo) will be competing with five rookies for 9-10 roster spots. In the secondary (excluding Sensabaugh) nine veterans will compete with five rookies for probably 8-9 roster spots. At receiver (excluding Roy Williams) it'll be nine incumbents versus three rookies for 5-6 spots.

That is going to be one competitive training camp. And it looks as if not even the Cowboys' 100% reliable long snapper, L.P. Ladouceur is safe. Then again, L.P. will cost the Cowboys $810,000 this year, why not see if you can get a rookie to do it for a little less than half that money?

Here's how the total 2011 UDFA class stacks up, based on how they were ranked prior to the draft by cbssports.com (hat tip to JimmyK for the table):

Player Position College cbs.com overall rank
cbs.com position rank
Dan Bailey K Oklahoma St. 306 4
Kevin Kowalski OC/OG Toledo 319 12
Orie Lemon LB Oklahoma State 322 17
Justin Taplin-Ross FS Utah 391 18
Mario Butler CB Georgia Tech 493 51
Laupepa Letuli OT/OG Hawaii 525 39
Lyle Leong WR Texas Tech 526 61
Zack Eskridge* QB Midwestern St. 539 28
Raymond Radway WR ACU 656 83
Phillip Tanner* RB Middle Tennessee State 667 54
Collin Zych* S Harvard 723 30
Corey Adams LS Kansas State N/A (over 750) 6
Chris Jones P Carson Newman N/A (over 750) 32
Chris Randle CB Utah St. N/A (over 750) 79
Jose Acuna OT Nevada N/A (over 750) 75
Alex Albright LB Boston College N/A (over 750) N/A
Kennan Mace DE Lindenwood N/A (over 750) N/A
Lamark Armour DE Ole Miss N/A (over 750) N/A
Matangi Tonga DE Houston N/A (over 750) N/A
William Bradford NT Northeastern (Okla.) State N/A (over 750) N/A

*Zych, Tanner and Eskridge were all participants in the Cowboys' pre-draft "Dallas Days"

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