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Dallas Cowboys' draft plans coming into focus; Mendenhall to visit

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Seven more names have been added to the group of players coming to Valley Ranch next month according to the DMN.

Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett tops the latest group of NFL prospects who will visit Valley Ranch next month to meet with Dallas Cowboys officials, according to the players' representatives.

The other Valley Ranch-bound players are: OT Duane Brown and CB Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech; Southern Cal LB Keith Rivers; Missouri WR Will Franklin; Iowa CB Charles Godfrey; and Oregon RB Johnathan Stewart, who is coming off toe surgery.

The two notable names on that list are Brandon Flowers and Jonathan Stewart. Some have predicted that Stewart will drop in the draft due to his injury and would be prime for the picking by the Cowboys at #22. The Cowboys could land a steal as Jonathan Stewart was not certain to be available to the Cowboys before his surgery.

Martellus Bennett is an interesting case since it would seem the Cowboys are set at TE with Jason Witten. Yet Anthony Fasano has yet to live up to his full potential and is coming off surgery, so the Cowboys could be thinking depth behind Witten. I say let touchdown machine Tony Curtis step up!

Update [2008-3-27 13:53:27 by Dave Halprin (Grizz)]: The DMN blog has added two more names to the list. One is a biggie - Rashard Mendenhall. Plus, a RB with rising stock - Chris Johnson - will also be dropping by Valley Ranch.

Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall and East Carolina RB Chris Johnson have been scheduled in to visit Valley Ranch during the third week of April.

Here's the full list of invitees from the DMN blog:

UNLV ILB Beau Bell
Texas A&M TE Martellus Bennett
Virginia Tech OT Duane Brown
Arizona CB Antoine Cason
Texas RB Jamaal Charles
Missouri WR Will Franklin
Virginia Tech CB Brandon Flowers
Iowa CB Charles Godfrey
Indiana WR James Hardy
East Carolina RB Chris Johnson
Arkansas RB Felix Jones
Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly
Troy CB Leodis McKelvin
Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall
Indiana CB Tracy Porter
USC LB Keith Rivers
Tennessee State CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
[END UPDATE]

The Star-Telegram talks about how these player invitations could give a hint at the Cowboys' draft plans. The list of names coming to Valley Ranch is dominated by receivers, cornerbacks. It's no secret what areas the Cowboys need to address in the draft and this list reflects that.

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An interesting little note in a story about UConn's pro day:

The impressive numbers he posted at the combine brought notable NFL personnel - including former Dallas Cowboys head coach Dave Campo, who now is the team's secondary coach - to Storrs to watch [UConn cornerback Tyvon] Branch participate in cornerback drills.

Branch could be one the Cowboys target for depth at cornerback on the second day of the draft.

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BTB regular goodjobtimmyheresabluestar (whew!) has a great diary about the contract Marcus Trufant signed with Seattle.

I think the Cowboys will look to score a deal with Terence Newman somewhere between Asante Samuel's and Trufant's. Newman in turning 30, but still has plenty of years left in him. Just don't look for him to score a "hometown discount."

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Yet one more mock draft, courtesy of Pat Kirwan at NFL.com

22. Dallas Cowboys - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
There's always speculation the Cowboys are packaging their picks to move up for Darren McFadden. They can stay right where they are and satisfy two big needs, corner and wide receiver. The run on either spot earlier in the draft will determine which area they address first. Rodgers-Cromartie would be an excellent compliment to Terence Newman, but he might have to start his career as the nickel back. A 4.33-second 40-yard dash and size make him a steal at this spot.

28. Dallas Cowboys - Desean Jackson
Jerry Jones and Co. take the receiver/returner who can replace Terry Glenn and help open up the offense. Jackson's size and some injury history should make him available at this point in the draft.