Well, it's a good thing the Cowboys signed Greg Hardy on Wednesday, since Thursday kicked off one of the three best weekends in sports, and the only one that doesn't involve NFL Football. So, the NFL briefly takes a backseat to college hoops, and we check in with the aftermath of the Hardy acquisition.
ESPN gets Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus to grade the Greg Hardy deal. He throws some tasty numbers at us here:
His plus-25.6 PFF grade was second-highest among 4-3 defensive ends in 2013, including a pass-rush grade of plus-19.3 that ranked fourth. He was strong in 2012 as well, as he finished at plus-17.0 overall and plus-14.7 as a rusher. He's more than capable of playing every down, as he has graded positively each of his past two seasons against the run. Last season's turmoil kept Hardy off the field for all but 57 snaps, but if he's back to form, he'll be a valuable addition for the Cowboys. With DE Jeremy Mincey (plus-11.1 pass rush) on one side and DT Tyrone Crawford (plus-17.3 pass rush) up the middle, Hardy is another factor for which opposing offenses have to consider.
See what I mean? Delicious...!
McManus brings up a great point in this opinion piece:
Here is the dilemma for the NFL; How can it show that anything has changed if a man who was found guilty once but had the decision vacated because, the prosecutor alluded, the victim reached a civil settlement with the player? That looks like the way powerful men have always done business.
Rich guys above the law. It's an age-old story...
The Mothership's two draft gurus go to the tape to check out Hardy's game. Here's Broaddus:
Plays the game with a great deal of passion and emotion. Is non-stop in the way he attacks the ball, whether it is run or pass. See him as a right defensive end in this scheme but has played on the left side as well. Lines up as an under-tackle in certain pass rush packages. I would not say that he has remarkable upper body strength, because there were snaps where, unless he was able to get his hands inside first, shedding blockers was a problem. Where he beats blockers is with that first initial move. Can put them in a bad spot right off the snap. Is consistent in the way he rushes. Comes with counter moves and a plan. Can defeat men one-on-one or handle a double-team and still get pressure.
The Cowboys, Archer notes, did not need to restructure any contracts to get Greg Hardy's contract to fit under the salary cap. By the time the third week of the regular season rolls around, however, they will have to account for roughly $8.1 million in the remaining $9.25 million per-game roster bonuses Hardy will receive throughout the season as long as he is on the 53-man roster. So, they need to be cognizant of their options moving forward...
What the signing of Hardy has done, Toddzilla writes, is to allow the Cowboys to put together a more pure draft board. This has been the Cowboys' philosophy the last few years: to use free agency to fill holes and then follow their board as closely as possible. After bringing Hardy into the fold, they are one player closer to the mythical "BPA" draft.
The defensive comings and goings continue...
The Cowboys' free agent corner has agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a max value of $1.525 million. I suspect fans will miss him a lot more than Dallas' front office will...
..and the opposite can be said for this guy:
Tiny Jim informs us that Dallas has agreed to terms on a one-year contract for veteran defensive tackle Nick Hayden, bringing the big defensive tackle with the nasty nickname back for a third season.
Some fans don't like Hayden bc he doesn't put up big #s. Coaches love his motor, he never misses games, takes on blocks & consistent tackler— Jordan Ross (@TheJordanRoss) March 20, 2015
The prolific Archer offers an All-22 look at newly-signed Dallas linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Here's a taste:
How he fits: Last year the Cowboys threw numbers at the defensive line position in hopes of keeping players fresh while masking some of their deficiencies if they play too much. They are doing the same at linebacker with the additions of Brinkley, Andrew Gachkar and Keith Rivers so far this offseason. Brinkley has all the looks of a run-down linebacker. This defense is based on speed and range. Brinkley is not the fastest, but he knows how to keep himself out of trouble and get to the ball carrier.
The Broad One's look at the Cowboys' roster continues with a guy who most fans wouldn't list when asked to name as many Cowboys as they can:
Where He Fits: I feel like you could play him at any spot along this defensive line as a backup and you would feel good about it. Can see him as one of those players that we aren't talking about much now but there is a plan for him with the staff. They love to rotate these defensive linemen and the fact that he plays with power and effort that they will find a spot for him. Could be a nice fit as the backup at left end if they decide to move DeMarcus Lawrence to that side now that they have Greg Hardy. Has the strength to play a little tackle if needed as well. These are the kind of traits that coaches love. Could see him once again on the 53-man roster playing several different roles.
And we finish up with some draft news:
Two more names to add to the Cowboys' pre-draft visitor list, which now stands at a whopping four. It doesn't sound like much, but it needs to be followed closely, if recent history is any guide.
Sturm's draft series rolls around to the O-line, where he begins with the big Stanford offensive tackle. Here's a section from his summary:
Big, not really as strong or mean as I like, but agile and seemingly perfect for the zone scheme/pass attack that seems to look for the prototypical power forward body. Peat is not quite that, as his size at nearly 320, makes him even more desirable than that 300 pound group, but I can see that with those hands and natural agility as well as a real understanding for what he is doing puts him pretty high on the list.