Randy Gregory and La'el Collins share an agent and trained together. But this reminder just refreshes the warm fuzzies for fans of the Dallas Cowboys.
Gregory was viewed as the best pass-rusher available. Collins was viewed as one of the best offensive lineman available. The chances of ending up on the same team were remote.
But a confluence of events led both players to the Dallas Cowboys.
And that friendship is part of the important support system that the Cowboys already are putting in place to help Gregory get through his personal issues.
"For that, the Cowboys have already surrounded Gregory with an intriguing axis of guidance. He's had defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and former defensive end Charles Haley in his ear. His locker this past weekend was situated next to Dez Bryant's. And his friend and predraft workout partner, Collins (whom he shares an agent with), will be with him for every rookie step."
Here is the Cowboys' approach to defensive tackles in a nutshell, from Stephen Jones.
"Malcom Brown is a great football player and we did have him on our board," Jones said. "He's not the perfect ideal fit in Coach Marinelli's system. He's obviously a big physical player. But with Rod, in terms of what we look for with our under tackle, our three-technique — and it's what Tyrone Crawford plays for us. Russell Maryland did it back when [Jimmy Johnson] was here, coaching the 4-3 when we went to Super Bowls. Leon Lett did it. — We call it a quick twitch.
"Those guys are real quick coming off the ball. Not that Malcom isn't, but he's more of a physical, what they call a two-gap defensive tackle, a nose tackle. We were really looking for people who pressure the quarterback in this draft, so we put a premium on that."
Chris Whaley is one of those players already on the roster that may be a key piece of the puzzle for Dallas.
If Marinelli can pull some production out of Whaley, it could be huge for the Cowboys' revamped pass rush. Whaley played multiple positions in college, but Marinelli is using him exclusively as the all-important three-technique in his defense. The three-technique is famous for generating a large amount of the pressure in this scheme, and the Cowboys could certainly use it.
"That's where I feel more comfortable, and that's what Marinelli always talks about - the under-tackle position. That's the bread-winner right there," Whaley said.
A lot has been said about the struggles Darren McFadden had with the zone blocking system while he was with the Oakland Raiders, but it appears the OL coach who was putting it in place felt that the ZBS was not given enough time to develop. Now that coach, Frank Pollack, reportedly gave a vote of confidence for McFadden if he came to the Cowboys, where the system is already established.
"I know Coach Pollack said he was tough, fast and was the type of guy who could do really well in the zone scheme," Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said of McFadden. "I think with Coach Pollack's recommendation, the higher-ups felt [McFadden] would be a good fit for us."
This just reinforces the fact that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is absolutely one of Jason Garrett's personally selected coaches.
"Bottom line is there's certain things we feel very adamant about is going to be important and it's no different really, same message that we had when we kind of started with ground zero last year," Linehan said. "I think if we do that and we go back to the basics and do those things well again, it will be benefit us as we move forward."
The buzz about Gregory followed by the amazement over Dallas getting Collins has largely overshadowed the well-regarded selection of Byron Jones in the first round. And that is just fine with the player who seems a nearly perfect fit for the Way of the Rooster.
"For me it didn't really matter where I go or where anybody else goes," Jones said. "I'm just here to work, here to do my job and that's play cornerback for the Cowboys."
If not for injury issues, Sean Lee might be seen as one of the very best linebackers in the league. He is working on protecting himself more in practice, and if that pays off, then you have to drool over what might be this season.
"A few years back, before we went to this defense, he played Will linebacker, so we were in a lot of under front and he was playing behind the three-technique and we kind of saw what his capabilities were there," Eberflus said. "So if you marry him to the three-technique, he's going to be more of a run and hit guy and I think that's what his instincts and his natural abilities sort of lean that way.
"He'll be really successful at that position."
Efe Obada is almost certainly a long-term project, but Jason Garrett has some hopes for him, and seems reasonably pleased with what he has seen in the rookie minicamp - however the team may wind up using him.
"We initially thought of him as a defensive line candidate but we thought it's going to be harder for him to move to tight end after he's a defensive lineman, so why not give him a chance at tight end right away, the harder spot. We could always move him back to defensive line. We did that. We liked a lot of the things he did [Friday], but that position might be more suited for him than tight end."
The Cowboys are looking at a $12.717 million cap hit for Brandon Carr this season, and would very much like to reduce it. They could gain $8 million in space by designating him a post June 1 cut, but given the situation they have at cornerback, that is not an attractive option. There has been discussion of trying to get him to sign a Doug Free like reduced contract, but he would probably be able to find a better deal elsewhere if they followed through on the cut part of the "take it or you are cut" threat. But there may be a way for both sides to get what they want.
Carr is technically signed through 2017 with a $10 million base salary, but the contract will be void after the 2016 season. He is set to make $17.1 million the next two seasons in base salary.
He wouldn't get that much in a new deal from any team. The Seattle Seahawks gave Cary Williams a three-year, $18 million deal that included $7 million guaranteed. He had a brutal season for the Eagles but was still able to pull in a decent offer.
The Cowboys can make a similar pitch to Carr for roughly the same average and maybe more years to achieve what they want: salary-cap room with the benefits of keeping the player. The structure of the deal could save the Cowboys money against the cap immediately and not burden them in the future.
And for something completely different, how many of us are taking guilty pleasure from seeing how quickly the media has turned on Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who for many years was absolutely fawned over by the media?
Judging from reports of a $1 million fine, the loss of first- and fourth-round draft picks and the suspension of the league's pin-up quarterback for four games, I'm guessing Bob Kraft is not getting that apology he demanded from the NFL.
In fact, now that the Patriots have been convicted of cheating twice in eight years, here's my advice:
Wear it, Bob. You earned it.
There was also a nasty give and take between the Pats and Ted Wells, who ran the Deflategate investigation. In it, the Patriots' complaints that they were caught in a "sting" came up. This struck me as very interesting, because a sting, by definition, gives the target an opportunity to commit an infraction, and only works if they go through with it.
So, New England, is that a tacit admission that the air was let out of the balls after the officials had approved them? Inquiring minds want to know.