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Julius Jones gets some love

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ESPN predicts that Julius Jones will be one of the most productive free agent signings this year.

Who's going to be the most productive free agent? Seattle running back Julius Jones. He got brushed aside in Dallas because of Marion Barber. But Jones is walking into a good situation in Seattle. He'll take the place of Shaun Alexander and be paired with Maurice Morris in a backfield that will turn out to be one of the best in the league. Jones was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006 and will return to that level. He also will be a major contributor as a receiver out of the backfield. Jones caught 35 passes in 2005, but the Cowboys forgot about his receiving skills the last two seasons, something the Seahawks won't.

Mario Manningham was on everybody’s radar as one of the top picks at receiver in the 2008 draft. Then he ran at the combine and one of his most marketable skills – his speed – seemed to be in question. Matt Mosley over at Hashmarks reports that Manningham ran like everybody thought he would at his Pro Day.

Meanwhile, Michigan receiver Mario Manningham took a leap forward after a strong performance at Pro Day on Friday. After posting a pedestrian 4.59 40-yard dash time at the combine, Manningham bounced back with a 4.38 in Ann Arbor. Another scout I just talked to clocked him at 4.42 but that's close enough not to matter that much. The fact that Manningham had run a 4.6 during one of his turns in Indianapolis really scared a lot of teams. But he was much more impressive on familiar turf.

Manningham scored almost a TD a game while at Michigan and a lot of those were long-range jobs. He’s got the ability to stretch the field, something Dallas is looking for and had an accomplished career against big-time competition. I still don’t think Dallas will take a WR in the first round, but if all the corners they want are gone they might go in that direction if they don’t trade down. I’m keeping Manningham on the radar for the time being.

Speaking of WR’s, one that a lot of us thought the Cowboys might pursue, free agent DJ Hackett, has signed with the Panthers.

Hat tip to sduncan24 for the news.

SI.com has a list of ‘risers’ and ‘sliders’ for the 2008 draft.

A couple of names that might interest the Cowboys.

Risers:

Aqib Talib, CB -- Kansas
He was another Big 12 cornerback who impressed with his speed this week. His 40 time of 4.41 was much better than his combine clockings, which ranged in the low 4.5 area. Talib twice answered questions about his speed (pro day and the combine) and is moving up draft boards.

Sliders:

Jonathan Stewart, RB -- Oregon
He underwent surgery last week to correct a turf toe injury suffered in November. He was able to play through the pain and even competed at the combine. Sources say Stewart knew the injury was a problem when he decided to enter the draft in January. He'll be sidelined the next four months and is likely to slip into the second round.

A mock draft from Pete Prisco.

22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland)
DeSean Jackson, WR, California:
Terrell Owens is getting up in years, and Jackson will help the return game until he gets into the lineup.

28. Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas:
The Cowboys add a speed back to go with Marion Barber. Jones put up some amazing yards-per-carry numbers at Arkansas.