With the Cowboys expected focus on defense, Bryan Broaddus put together a look at his favorite defensive players from the Combine. His list of top prospects for Dallas: Clemson DE/OLB Vic Beasley, UCLA DE Owa Odighizuwa, Miss St DE Preston Smith, TCU LB Paul Dawson, LSU CB Jalen Collins, Washington CB Marcus Peters, and Louisville S James Sample.
The day focused on defensive backs, so here are the takes from this source on some of the players Broaddus liked.
Jalen Collins of LSU posted an official 4.48 40. After measuring in at 6'1 and 203 pounds, Collins may have jumped into the top half of the first round.
Washington's Marcus Peters tested out at what was expected with a 4.53 40 and a vertical leap of 37.5 inches. His press coverage abilites may be the best in the class, and he'll make a defensive coordinator very happy.
James Sample has started to creep ahead of (Geord) Holliman on some boards and his 40 time of 4.56 may have moved his up some more. Sample's size at 6'2 and 209 pounds is excellent and he is a very physical safety.
Our own JSM8ith has already taken a look at the options to possibly replace DeMarco Murray. Todd McShay has mocked Todd Gurley to Dallas, and one of the things he cites is an ability that is not so common for college runners.
"I was blown away by how comfortable and natural he is at catching the football, adjusting to the ball, transitioning from catching the ball and getting up the field quickly. And then, if you give him some daylight, it's over. It's lights out. Once his momentum gets going he's got rare top-end speed for that size."
There are a variety of reasons why the Cowboys might not get Gurley, of course, so the Sturminator takes a look at a couple of players who might be available later in the draft. First up, Jay Ajayi (who should be brought in as a Dallas Days candidate, since he played his high school ball in the Metroplex).
I might have tipped my hands early, but I really like this guy to a point that if there was one guy you might cheer to fall to #60 in Round 2, this could be him. He can just do it all and looks like a Day 1 starter who can pass protect, receive, and run inside or outside. He looks the part of a legitimate NFL starter who will compete for the 3rd guy off the board.
Second candidate for the day is Tevon Coleman.
Tevin Coleman is a terrific player and the kind of guy who can run for 2,000 yards with Indiana's supporting cast has a chance to be great at any level. But, Gurley and Gordon did more of the tough NFL inside runs to satisfy my questions on that front and the ability for them to always move the ball down the field and not be as reliant on the home run puts them a slot ahead of Coleman. But, you can clearly see what he has and how he might be a better investment in the 2nd round than spending a 1st on those other two.
Compared to where the team was last year at this time - if your memory fails you, just think "8-8, 8-8, 8-8" - the owner and general manager feels that the team is in a very different place - one where it expects to win.
Jones will not go as far as to say the Cowboys will be in Super Bowl 50. Remember his junior year at Arkansas. But he believes a corner has been turned with what happened in 2014.
"I see our guys just feeling good, see the almost-shocked look in their face when we lose: 'How'd we let that happen?'" Jones said.
In the same marathon meeting with the press that the previous remarks came from, Jones talked about some of the reasons he wanted to give Jason Garrett a new deal, for five years. And the reason says something about what makes Jones a little different than most owners.
One of the things Jones likes about Garrett is his ability to adapt and adjust, as evidenced by his moving from the offensive side of the ball to focusing mainly on the defense in 2014.
Jones believes Garrett has a long future with the Cowboys.
"Jason has shown me that he can adjust and will adjust," Jones said. "That, to me, is very important. We are not going to be doing it 10 years from now as we are doing it today."
The article discusses some of the ways the team is trying to help Tony Romo succeed, but the fun part is Jerry Jones' description of the way Romo explained how he and Jerry are on the same timeline.
"Jerry, see Stephen, he's got himself about 25-30 years of this ahead. Jason, coach, maybe something similar to that," Jones remembers Romo saying. "Me, I'm three to five. You're three to five. We got to stick together. It's now for us."
ESPN gathered as much information as it could about how much each American professional team, in any sport, uses analytics, and put the Cowboys in a group of the leading teams in the NFL. (It is an interactive graphic, but interesting.)
While some question how committed owner/GM Jerry Jones is to the use of analytics, the Cowboys otherwise have a good reputation for being willing to spend and innovate. They develop their own advanced stats and are avid consumers of data produced by technology and independent analysts.
Dallas set an organizational goal to improve coach Jason Garrett's game-management decisions with the help of analytics and saw some results during its 2014 NFC East title season.
Brandon George believes Anthony Spencer is one of the most likely free agents to re-sign with Dallas.
Spencer just turned 31 and came on strong late in the season. Another year removed from major left knee surgery should help him increase his production. Spencer really likes playing in Dallas, and he's what coach Jason Garrett calls the "right kind of guy." He's a good fit with the Cowboys. Other teams aren't likely to throw a bunch of money at Spencer considering his major surgery in 2013, so Dallas should have a good chance to re-sign him at the right price after he played 2014 under a one-year deal.
Looking at the Cowboys from the outside, there are some interesting free agents that the team has for the rest of the league to consider. (Our own Dave Halprin helps provide the answers to the following questions.)
The Cowboys almost certainly can't, or won't, keep both players. Do they keep the solid veteran incumbent in Free, a 31-year-old seven-year veteran? Do they let him go in favor of the 28-year-old four-year veteranParnell, who did a good job in five 2014 starts while Free was sidelined with an injury?
No matter what the Cowboys decide, could the offensive line-needy New York Giants benefit?
Could they sign Free to start at right tackle and kick Justin Pugh inside? Could they sign Parnell for the same reason, or to be a swing tackle backing up on both sides?
The competition committee has not taken up whether here need to any changes to the rules about what comprises a catch under NFL rules. However the important thing is that the title of the article gives it away. "Dez Bryant catch". Because, you know, IT WAS A CATCH!