Ok just kidding about the draft dont leave just yet. Mini camp just wrapped up, training camp begins here in a few weeks, yet I find myself reverting back to draft day in April.
Heading into the draft there were a few positions highlighted by fans and analyst alike that most thought were needs or would be helpful to the team. In particular Guard, Defensive Tackle and Linebacker. We all know the uproar after day one highlighted by passing on Floyd (DT), and missing out on the elite Guards.
Come day two there was still gripe over "why no DT, and why no Guard?". There were even disappointments on missing out on a LB to play aside Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. At the time it was fair to ask these questions, but heading into Training Camp have we found our answers?
Underlined by 2 highly touted UDFA's and a pleasantly surprising UDFA the Dallas brass headed by Garrett is either smarter than we are, or lucky (probably both). Ron Leary, Ben Bass and Brandon Magee have opened eyes in a big way as they get set for training camp.
Before Magee was the prized UDFA receiving big guaranteed money, Leary was the big catch post draft in 2012. The story behind Leary is well known around these parts, a mid round rated lineman dropping out of the draft due to degenerated knees. Knees Dallas wasn't scared away by evident in his $200,000+ signing bonus per say after the draft.
As a rookie he didnt catch on mentally as quick as the staff would have liked apparent in him being on the practice squad majority of the season. But notice I said mentally, physical prowess is no worry when it comes to Leary. At 6'3 in the 320 lb range Leary's power and punch have been showing up in OTA's and mini camp albeit without pads. In his 2nd off season hes showing a more mentally sharp edge to his game and piecing it together with his talent.
"I learned a lot from Coach Callahan, learned a lot from a lot of players on the team about just being a professional, that this is your job," he said. "I think I’ve grown as a person." - Leary
- "There is no question of the ability of Leary to play with power"
- "He looks more confident in what he has to accomplish assignment wise"
- "He is making quality reach and cut off blocks while also getting to the second level."
- "Leary looks like a completely different player than the one we saw last season...and how sharp he was mentally to pick up the offense."
If Leary can continue to improve and earn a starting spot it will only benefit the offense now and for the future. Along with Tyron and Frederick he would give Dallas a young core of under 25 to build around. Maybe he is the reason Guards were passed on in the draft after the elite ones were taken?
Following suit Bass was also an UDFA in 2012. While not the big name as Ron Leary was he was someone Dallas thought could make noise. Bass only saw 2 games of action before an injury put him on IR to end his season, but his patience seems to be paying off.
His name has popped up throughout the entire off season in an encouraging way. The 6'5 283 lb former Aggie may be one of the many players benefiting from the switch to a 4-3 defense. So far in practices he has played at the 1 and 3 tech wrecking havoc. It seems he has been showing nice power and a "quick twitch" to beat his man. It has been hard to read updates on OTA's and mini camp without Bass being mentioned. He held true to that on the final day of camp according to reports by ESPN's Todd Archer.
The most dominant defensive player in the workout? How about DT Benn Bass?.The second-year defensive lineman was all over the field, penetrating, getting to the quarterback for a sack, blowing up running plays and even forcing an interception. - Archer
Bass's emergence is something to keep your eye on heading into Training Camp and in the pre season games. If he can be counted on to be a key rotational guy with guys like Crawford, Lissemore and Wilber it could be a huge lift in bridging the gap from this season to next in what is expected to be a draft where Dallas addresses the D line. Im rooting for him to emerge if for nothing more than the fun we will have coming up nicknames for him. 'Big Ben Bass'? No? 'Bass is going to get your a-, ok I'll leave that up to you guys.
Magee may be my favorite UDFA brought in this season. Honeslty I'm not even sure how he wasn't drafted, apparently Dallas was ecstatic that he wasn't after passing on him for Devante Hollowman. Ironically Dallas put a higher grade on Magee (4th rounder) than Hollowman but felt he would fall out of the draft once the 6th round came.
Their feeling came true and according to reports once Dallas finished with their last pick immediately raced to the phones to get ahold of Magee to let them know he was their guy if he was available. After seeing Magee in action I saw why. This guy is a tackling machine having posted 133 tackles his final year at Arizona State. He also is a head hunter, not literally but in the sense that he is looking to hit you every chance he gets.
Broaddus had some interesting notes from OTA's regarding Magee. There was a part in there that I got a kick out of but also secretly was saying yesss we got a missle:
What I have also noticed about Magee is when there is some accidental contact and the ball carrier ends up on the ground, it’s Magee standing there with hands in the air like he didn’t do it. I believe where Magee will really shine is when the pads come on in Oxnard but until then, he is catching my eye with more consistency.- BB
Magee baring injury probably wont be asked to be on the field a lot this year but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Personally I think he has the skills to play the Mike, Will and Sam backer positions. With Durant signed as a FA to play the SAM LB spot it leaves young guys like Hollowman and Magee to battle him to get on the field. But Durant isnt a future signing hes a right now guy, a gap player for guys like the rookies. If Magee can make noise on special teams and in his opportunities he does get this season , maybe he joins Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee Magee?
In any rate these are 3 UDFA's the Cowboys brass hope can play their way into the now and future for this team. While Dallas has a recent history of hitting on UDFA's, hitting on 3 would probably require some luck. In reality if just one of these guys eventually stand out as a Romo, Austin type guy that would be plenty for me.