With the most important days in weeks happening right now at the ranch, as the 30 national invitees are interviewed, checked medically and taken to lavish dinners - in other words, as we sit poised (AT LAST!) on the real draft season - Watkins is partying like its
1999 mid-February, and offering up a review of past free agency seasons. What the what? And the cherry on the sundae? Here's the opening sentence:
This was the first time the Cowboys didn't sign anybody in free agency since 2008.
Shockingly, to finish off this non-story (as a big story swirls all around him), Watkins gives them an "incomplete."
Okay to be fair, he did also offer this:
Among the confirmed players who have made the trip to Valley Ranch: Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, Boise State Demarcus Lawrence, Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, Florida State defensive end Timmy Jernigan and North Dakota State tackle Billy Turner.
But if you read BTB, you already knew that, right?
Despite the awkward title, Eatman proffers a solid profile piece on Barr, the UCLA running-back-cum-linebacker. And, while some teams are looking at him as a 4-3 outside linebacker or a rush linebacker in a 3-4, he'd move to the open end in Dallas. When Barr spoke with Dallas defensive line guru Rod Marinelli on Tuesday,
"He showed me a lot of tape of (Julius) Peppers and Simeon Rice and (Warren) Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for."
Although pundits have been saying that Jadeveon Clowney and Kony Ealy are the two best defensive ends in the draft, I'd bet the Cowboys have Barr sandwiched in between them - and have him slotted closer to Clowney than to Ealy.
And now, we bring you a couple of draft profiles for the offensive line:
Sabin presents us with a profile of the collegian whose draft stock may have suffered the steadiest and most sustained decline in recent months - indeed, since the Senior Bowl, when the then-first/ second rounder was abused (and I mean abused, son!) by Aaron Donald in one-on one drills (gif here). Do we put that in the "experience" column?
That said, I wouldn't mind seeing the Cowboys pick him up early on day three, as a size-feet combo platter.
DC.com's youngest scribe pens a profile piece and their baldest scribe, Broaddus, adds a brief scouting report on Furman O-lineman Dakota Dozier, a good foot athlete with a bit of a mean streak. Good stuff, but, frankly, our own Dawn Macelli outdid them both back on the first day of February, with her superb post on the "Bull-Dozier."
Hornsby serves up a plate of five "quick fixes": positions where one team can make a weakness into a strength via the draft, much as the Panthers did last year at defensive tackle, when they selected Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds. Dallas' equivalent position, shockingly, is edge rusher. This is no mere urban football legend or click-generating pseudo-meme - no, indeedy; there are dispiriting stats to back up the claim. Hornsby writes:
The six players manning the depth chart right now managed 97 QB disruptions total in 2013 on 845 pass rushes, nearly equivalent to what the St. Louis Rams' Robert Quinn managed on his own in about half as many snaps. Edge rushers for the Cowboys ranked 22nd in pass-rush productivity last year, and that was with DeMarcus Ware on the team. There is no question this group will need major bolstering.
I have two thoughts: 1) Yikes! 2) Ummm, duh.
Complicating Hornsby's call for early-round defensive reinforcements, Kirwan notes that as many as ten teams (count 'em: ten!) may be looking for all-defensive hauls on the draft's first two days. And one of those teams is your Beloved Boys. Because of this excess demand, he cautions,
expect a few teams to be disappointed when the well runs dry before they satisfy their defensive needs. By my count there are close to 13 players that fit in the DE/OLB category depending on the scheme being played, and that should be enough to have every GM say they got the guy they wanted somewhere in the first three rounds.
Although DE might be safe, positions where need appears to outstrip supply, according to Kirwan, are MLB/ ILB and safety (where as many as 12 teams need to draft a starting-caliber player). At defensive tackle, he reports, "at least eight teams will consider a defensive tackle in the first three rounds and I'm not so sure there are eight solid candidates for those teams." The result? Teams will over-reach and over-draft these low-supply positions.
Golldurnit, but I hope Aaron Donald or Anthony Barr fall to the Cowboys. The alternative is playing catch-up all weekend...
In a piece that our own Tom Ryle highlighted yester-eve, Todd Archer whips up a thorough profile on the Cowboys new Assistant Director of Personnel. Most impressive is the subject of the profile, who earns rave reviews from just about every person with whom he has worked. He (unlike the team's GM) is a grinder, who burns the midnight oil watching film - and always has, even when he was a collegiate defensive back at Rice, the "Harvard of the South" (see, he's a smart cookie, too).
College defensive back. Has the Cowboys covered. Oh, I see, A pun. Nice work, ESPN title-generating interns.