April is liar's month in the NFL. The final weeks leading up to the draft are ruled by half-truths, lies, outright deceit, propaganda, information poisoning, counter intelligence – you name it, we got it. The amount of effort spent on this, by the teams, the media and the fans rivals that of any intelligence agency.
Your best option would therefore probably be to ignore, and not infer meaning from, anything teams say or do publicly. But where's the fun in that? So stay with us as we ponder the collection of informed speculation, rumors and cold, hard half-truths below.
More Valley Ranch visitors: We added four new names to our Pre-Draft Visit Tracker of draft prospects who visited with the Cowboys yesterday or are at Valley Ranch today. When I wrote this post, the names were still unconfirmed, but Mike Fisher of 105.3 The fan (@fishsports) came through and confirmed them:
- Oregon OT Kyle Long tweeted that he was "headed to the Lone Star State". We'll take this to mean he's visiting the Cowboys.
- Safety J.J. Wilcox out of Georgia Southern was a little clearer, tweeting yesterday that he was "Dallas bound!"
- RB Gio Bernard out of North Carolina was in for a visit yesterday as well, as per Amanda Guerra from NBCDFW.
- Little known free safety Jakar Hamilton, a likely 6th-7th-rounder or priority free agent out of South Carolina State, apparently also had a visit with the Cowboys yesterday. I'm calling instant pet cat dibs right here.
OG Jonathan Cooper is one of the Cowboys' "top first-round targets," according to Tony Pauline of USAToday and draftinsider.net. We hold Pauline in high esteem here, as he's been pretty reliable in the past, so there may be something to this. Then again, linking a guard to the Cowboys is not Pulitzer-level investigate journalism either. Cooper is an obvious fit for the Cowboys, especially if they want to move to more of a zone-blocking scheme. But there's also the possibility that Cooper could be taken ahead of the 18th pick, and there have been whispers of the Cowboys looking at options to trade up for Cooper.
Of course, all of this could just be carefully designed misinformation to deflect from the Cowboys' real target, Kenny Vaccaro. Or Sheldon Richardson. Or ... you get the drift.
RB Stepfan Taylor has been obvious only through his absence from any pre-draft visits with Dallas. The Cowboys appear to have brought in four running backs, and Taylor wasn't one of them. That may just have been a smokescreen. Pauline also writes that the Cowboys are looking at Taylor as an option in round three.
Stepfan Taylor is as "plug-and-play" ready as any RB in this year’s draft and was groomed in Stanford’s pro-style offense. In 52 games at Stanford, Taylor gained 4,212 yards on 823 carries (5.1 ypc), had 39 TD’s and added 94 receptions for 761 yards and 5 more TD’s. Taylor may be the prototype of what the Cowboys are looking for in a back: he has a track record of production, he can catch the football and he can pass protect. Taylor is possibly the safest back in this class, and the Cowboys may have him in for a visit next week. Taylor is eligible for "Dallas Days", having graduated from Mansfield High School, which is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area from which the Cowboys are allowed to invite local prospects.
Cowboys looking for a free agent right tackle? Tony Romo's contract extension gave the Cowboys some cap space, and naturally there's been a lot of speculation about what will happen with that space. One rumor that's floating around is that the Cowboys may be in the market for a right tackle.
The Cowboys have virtually no depth at tackle. Smith, Free and Parnell are all they have, and it's far from certain that Free will be with the Cowboys after June. This scenario makes tackle an even bigger position of need than guard, where the Cowboys at least have some backups on the roster with Leary, Arkin and Kowalski, even though the quality of those backups may be debatable. If the Cowboys don't do anything at tackle, they will have to take a tackle in the draft, and that's not a position you necessarily want to be in.
No rumor: The Cowboys will host a draft day party at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday, April 25th, starting at 4:00 pm. Players and cheerleaders will be present to sign autographs. Admission and parking are free! Details here.