We interrupt our regular offseason programming to bring you this bit of happy news:
Dallas Cowboys will return to Oxnard for training camp this year - Brandon George, DMN
According to sources, the Cowboys have agreed to return to California in July for training camp and are close to finalizing a one-year contract with the City of Oxnard.
Self-evaluation is Cowboys' biggest off-season key - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The always-incisive Archer reminds us that the Combine evaluations are not as important as the self-scouting that been going on since season's end. Here, he cites Jason Garrett in support of his point:
"The evaluations you make on your own team are the most important evaluations you make," Jason Garrett said. "We'll spend a lot of time evaluating these guys at the Combine and rightfully so. They're the building blocks of the future, but we have to make great decisions on our own football team and great business decisions as well and have discipline in certain areas and make sure that we do what's best for our entire football team. That's in the forefront of our mind. Hopefully we can get that business handled."
Cowboys backed into a corner at corner? - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Noble Drummond opines on the questionable landscape in the Cowboys' defensive backfield, pointing out that Dallas has two open questions at CB in Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr. They'll probably both be with the team in 2015, but probably not the following season - which is why I'm beginning to study the first-round corners with renewed interest and scrutiny.
2015 NFL Combine - Thursday - Tony Pauline, Draftinsider.net
Pauline's daily roundup from Indy features this and other little gems:
The other big story brewing during the opening days of the combine centers around free agent cornerbacks. The belief is available corners will be overpaid in free agency as the demand at the position will far outstrip the supply. Sources tell me a number of teams (New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears) may look to sign a pair of corners in free agency, the need is so great.
When you consider dumping Brandon Carr, realize that at least 25 other teams would snap him up, and that there's not much out there in the way of replacements.
Cowboys re-sign Hornsey as possible competition for restricted FA Jones - Nick Eatman, The Mothership
The Cowboys brought back punter Tom Hornsey on Thursday, meaning there are now two punters on the roster. You may recall that Hornsey spent a couple of weeks with the Cowboys in Oxnard last summer, playing in two preseason games before The Turk payed him a visit.
Cowboys who topped expectations: No. 2 proved Jerry Jones wrong - David Moore, DMN
Moore's series continues with Zack Martin as the runner-up:
The Notre Dame star was a college tackle who made the transition to guard as a rookie and was dominant. He took a good, young offensive line to the next level. Martin was so good at guard no one talks about moving him back to tackle in the future.
Cowboys will lean defensively but not ignore offense - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
If we were only to include articles by Todd Archer, these news posts would still be fulsome documents; the dude is prolific. Here, he gestures towards the Cowboys' likely draft strategy:
"It goes without saying we are weighted towards the defense," executive vice president Stephen Jones said.
Jones, however, did not want to box himself into a defense-only stance. While all ties will go to the defense, the Cowboys will not ignore the offense in the draft or potentially free agency if the right value is in place.
Former Dallas Cowboys assistant Bill Callahan says he left behind "the best line in the league" - Rainer Sabin, DMN
The DeMarco Murray furor refuses to subside...
Loaded draft class & Murray's contract situation beg important questions about RB value - David Helman, The Mothership
Tiny Jim reminds us that, since Trent Richardson was taken third overall in 2012, no running back has gone higher than No. 37 in the subsequent two drafts. Even other first-round backs in recent years, (Mark Ingram in 2011; Doug Martin and David Wilson in 2012) have been picked late in the round (28th, 31st and 32nd, respectively).
This reminded me of a blurb in one of superdraftnik Tony Pauline's recent Combine notebooks:
On paper this looks to be one of the best running back draft’s in a long time but will the ball carriers slip through the cracks come late April? A number of people tell me the rich crop of veteran backs available in free agency next month, many who won’t command high salaries, could result in a few of the 2nd/3rd/4th round backs sliding deeper into the draft than many suspect.
It's simple supply and demand, people. Right now, the RB supply outstrips demand, so the Cowboys can (nay, must) buy low.
Cowboys' free agent debate: DeMarco Murray - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer's series on the Cowboys own free agents continues, with a one of the two big-ticket guys: Number 29. Here's the global picture:
What it should cost: This is a trick question in a part because nobody really knows. Teams have devalued runners in recent years, but a back of Murray’s talent has not hit the open market recently. The draft class is strong too, so teams might be more willing to go after a younger runner with less mileage than Murray. There is no doubt a runner’s production dips as he closes in on 30. Murray just turned 27. Regardless of the length of deal Murray receives from the Cowboys or another team, the most important numbers will be the first three years of the deal....If the price gets too high, the Cowboys will walk away and find a cheaper replacement (or replacements).
Identifying matches for free agents - Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
As the title suggests, Harrison plays a little Match Game, but without Gene Rayburn or Charles Nelson Reilly. One of the matchees is our own DeMarco Murray. Harrison names three possible landing spots, all in the AFC: Jacksonville (ouch!), Oakland (oof!), and Indianapolis (hmmmmm).
Murray running behind Andrew Luck? That could be dangerous...
And a possible replacement for Number 29:
2015 Draft profile: what I see in Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - Bob Sturm, DMN
After a thorough examination of defensive front seven personnel, the Sturminator's draft series turns to the offense, starting with an enticing option should DeMarco Murray depart for greener ($$$) pastures. Sturm wraps up his evaluation with the most glowing of assessments:
He is just a dazzling player with uncommon traits and a combination that can beat you in a number of ways. His ACL injury actually benefits a team like Dallas because maybe that is how a guy like that falls all the way to #27. I doubt he falls that far, but I have been asked a number of times if I would take him if he does drop to Dallas, despite the needs this team has elsewhere. My answer is not even required a 2nd thought. Absolutely. He is a guy who appears to be a stud and as close to a can’t miss prospect at RB that we have seen in a half-dozen drafts.
Todd Gurley's knee rehabilitation to take six to nine months - Chase Goodbread, NFL.com
The sobering reality - and, frankly, the only reason he'd drop to the 27th pick - is this: Given his mid-November injury, the more favorable projection of six months would put Gurley back to form in mid-May, in time for mini-camps (good news); the worst-case scenario, nine months, would mean a mid-August return, just as the team breaks camp (not such good news). Where on this timeline will he really fall?
Cowboys' free agent debate: Tony Hills - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
From the mountaintop to the prairie. The mid-season pickup is not on the firmest ground:
What he could do: With the Cowboys likely facing an either/or situation with Free and Jermey Parnell, Hills could be brought back to compete for the swing tackle spot. The Cowboys like Donald Hawkins’ potential and kept Darrion Weems despite season-ending shoulder surgery. Neither Hawkins or Weems, however, has game experience coaches like in backups so Hills could have a shot to stick.
And we'll now resume with Combine coverage, as per the news cycle...
Selected scouting reports on offensive linemen in group 1 - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
The Broad One lists some O-linemen he'll have his eye on in Indianapolis. He shares his pre-Combine scouting notes on each; here's a sample:
Cameron Erving, Florida State OL: Played as a center vs. Georgia Tech. Will normally line up as a left tackle. Can make the reach block. Initial quickness to get in position. Plays on his feet. Can drive his man off the ball. When he extends can get push. Works to finish his block....Has some upper body power. Able to hold man off. Can get outside on screen. Can get to the outside on pass set but at times needs to do it quicker. Gets in trouble when base gets wide. Aware to pick of the twist. Makes line calls. I think he could play center and be okay with that. Scouts feel that that might be his best position. Gives you some flexibility at a couple of different spots.
Mayockisms: a glossary of Mayock terms - NFL.com
As we ease into the skills tests and position drills, and Mike Mayock takes center stage to describe them all, it might be useful to have a handy translator for some of his, er, original scouting terms. Ever wondered what "burp the baby" or "oily hips" means when it comes to player evaluation? Look no further, my friends; it's all right here.