One of the big stories on Thursday was the Falcons letting go Steven Jackson, who now joins Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson, and Peyton Hillis as newly-released veteran running backs. Plus, we're looking at a few other decent free agent RBs and a rich crop of collegiate runners. The takeaway? The RB market is glutted, which works to Dallas' advantage, since they're probably gonna need at least one.
Let's start here:
Cowboys draft 2015: the running backs - Joey Ickes, Cowboys HQ
The Admirable Ickes looks at the rich crop of collegiate runners, from Gurley and Gordon down to John Crockett and Buck Allen. Here's what he has to say about a guy who's in-between those extremes. Minnesota's David Cobb:
Shows enough patience to wait to see the hole and then hit it, rather than immediately bouncing. He’s a chain mover who is elusive enough to make a guy miss in the open field but physical enough to be tough to bring down and run through tackles in a phone booth. Runs downhill and rarely gets brought down in the back field. Consistently gains more than the play is blocked for. Runs very tough and is not afraid of contact, but when he gets the opportunity he looks to finish with six points. Doesn’t have elite top end speed...but is good enough to be a starting back at the NFL level.
From this report, Cobb certainly sounds a lot like the guy who was carrying the rock in Big D last season...color me intrigued.
2015 draft profile: what I see in Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - Bob Sturm, DMN
Sturm continues his draft profile series with a look at the former Cornhusker great, and likes what he sees:
In the open field, he is as quick and slippery as they come with hips and feet that leave defenders grasping at air. He is so quick and can turn on the jets in tight spaces and slam on the brakes...But, he is not just an edge changeup guy. He runs the ball hard between the tackles and never looks hesitant. Keep in mind that he had very little help at QB while in Lincoln, so stacked boxes and teams trying to eliminate his threat were routine, but he just kept racking up production of the highest order. He pass protects quite well for a smaller guy and he takes guys on whether he has the ball or not. He totally grasps the zone blocking concepts and what an effective zone runner must do well. He was a total workhorse and a team leader. He also is known as one of the best kids in college football.
NFL places A.P on exempt list pending appeal - Dan Hanzus, NFL.com
As you have almost certainly heard, U.S. District Judge David S. Doty granted an NFL Players Association motion to vacate a previous ruling by Harold Henderson, thus overturning Adrian Peterson's league suspension. So let the A.P.-to-Dallas rumors begin...
Adrian Peterson's impact on the Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
To put it baldly, the Cowboys cannot trade for Peterson, as they'd have to assume his weighty contract. However, Archer informs us, should the Vikings release Peterson, the Cowboys - or any team - could try to get him to sign a less oppressive deal. But here's the kicker:
But he won’t be coming for free, and the Cowboys have expressed a desire to be more financially sound than they have in the past....The Cowboys have repeatedly stated their desire to build through the draft. Though the possible addition of Peterson would make an already strong offense even stronger, it would likely hurt the Cowboys' ability to improve the defense...
I couldn't agree more. The amount that he could improve the offense would be less than the amount a guy like Pernell McPhee could improve the defense. Let's start the chant now: "AP? McPhee!!"
2015 NFL Combine: Winston among rising prospects; TCU duo looking to improve - Dane Brugler, The Mothership
Brugler, DC.com's excellent draft-season overhire, offers the names of five prospects who helped and five who hurt themselves. A sample form each category, you say? Happy to oblige. I'll start with "helped":
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut: Although he hasn’t seen the field since an October shoulder injury, Jones set a new NFL Combine record with a 12-feet-3 standing broad jump, an astounding number that also bested the former world record (12-feet-2). A high character player, Jones created buzz at Lucas Oil Stadium and has teams going back to the tape.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke: A natural slot target, Crowder is quicker-than-fast so his 4.56 40-yard dash wasn’t too alarming, but his 1.74 10-yard split and 7.17 3-cone drill, which measure short-area burst and change of direction, were among the worst at the position. The times don’t match the tape, making it tough to figure out.
Cowboys have to spend some cash over the next two years - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer points out that the new collective bargaining agreement requires each team to be at 89 percent off minimum cash floor spending after 2016. Presently, the Cowboys are at 82.58 percent of their minimum average, spending $211,407,314 in cash in 2013 and 2014. Not to worry, Archer has it covered:
Large signing bonuses to Bryant and/or Murray, would also count toward the minimum spending levels. The Cowboys can also re-work the contracts of players like Tyron Smith or Tony Romo and have that money count toward the minimum.
As long as the Cowboys have a franchise QB in the fold, they'll be over 89%...
Todd McShay mock shows Cowboys' quandry - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In reviewing McShay's most recent mock, Archer makes a shrewd and salient observation:
What McShay's mock draft does indicate is the possibility that the Cowboys are in a never-never land when it comes to landing a pass-rusher or cornerback. Eight defensive ends and three cornerbacks were among McShay's first 26 picks. Even the offensive tackle position was well picked over.
This is precisely what has me worried - i.e., that there are clusters of good defensive players in the 12-20 range and the 33-40 range, but not where Dallas currently sits, at numbers 27 and 60. A good draft requires that value meet opportunity; at this early juncture, opportunity isn't looking particularly friendly.
Roster rundown: Vaughan's development could affect Cowboys' 2015 draft plans - Nick Eatman, The Mothership
The roster assessment series continues with a peek at the Cowboys' third quarterback. Here's some of the straight poop:
Where He Fits: It doesn’t take an expert to understand why the front office and coaches carried Dustin Vaughan on the 53-man roster the entire season -- they like the player and would like to see him in their future plans. If there is one player that needs to have a big jump from one season to another, it's Vaughan. In talking with people associated with the team about his work ethic and character, it is all high praise to go along with his physical tools. Vaughan is going to get plenty of opportunities...to see how far he has come to put his name in consideration for that backup spot to Romo.
Dallas Cowboys free agents most likely to return in 2015: No. 2 WR Cole Beasley - Brandon George, DMN
George's series on free agent returnees moves to the diminutive Beasley, a no-brainer given that the SMU product is an RFA.But George kinda admits as much:
Why Beasley will likely be back: He’s a restricted free agent, so the Cowboys will the right of first refusal if another team signs him to an offer sheet. The Cowboys really like what Beasley gives them as a lot receiver. He’s very Tony Romo-friendly. Beasley, who will turn 26 in April, is hard to defend, often gets open to convert third downs into first downs.
City official: police have no video of 2011 Walmart parking lot incident linked with Dez Bryant - David Moore, DMN
If you're surprised by this, raise your hand. And all of you with hands raised get out of my office right now...