Monday kicks of mock draft season in earnest. We get a head start with two mock drafts that have the Cowboys picking - you guessed it - a quarterback.
2016 NFL Mock Draft: Why Cowboys should be searching for Tony Romo's successor - Peter Schrager, FOX Sports
Could Jerry Jones and Co. be in the market for a big-arm talent like Memphis QB Paxton Lynch? Peter Schrager says so in his first annual mock draft.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Cowboys fans got a glimpse of what life without Tony Romo could be like this season, and it wasn't pretty. No veteran journeyman or practice squad fixture (Kellen Moore) can replace a franchise quarterback. Especially in Big D. Barring a trade (Manziel?) or a notable free-agent acquisition, the Cowboys should look to pick Romo's successor this year. Lynch is 6-foot-7, surprisingly mobile and very accurate. He's a mold of clay, still, and could use a few years of learning from Romo before being elevated to the No. 1.
5. Dallas, Jared Goff, QB, California
Although Dallas has issues other than QB, another FG-only offensive output against Buffalo proves opposing defenses do not respect the Cowboys' passing attack inside the red zone. By the way, did anyone else notice that former Cowboy Brandon Weeden led the Texans to victory with a 34 point offensive output? But I digress . . . it has always been better to develop pro quarterbacks over a couple of years and that may be all Tony Romo has left. Jared Goff compiled a 156.4 passer rating over Cal's 12 games in 2015, highlighted by 64.2 completion percentage, 4,252 yards, 37 TD's, and 13 INT's. Goff's performance in a loss to eventual Pac-12 Champion Stanford may prove to be the tape that scouts utilize in making their case for the tall Bear signal-caller.
Four more months with unending iterations of the two mocks above. Yippee skippee.
Of course, there's always free agency to drive you to the drink as well.
Twitter mailbag: Why not RG3 for the Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer answers a Twitter question about Bob Griffin and the Cowboys.
I don't remember Jerry Jones in awe of a player the way he was with RG III after the Thanksgiving Day loss to Washington when Griffin threw four touchdown passes. That seems to have been the high-water mark for Griffin. His knee and game has disintegrated since then. I wouldn't rule out Griffin in a Cowboys uniform because you've seen them go after former high picks and hope to squeeze out ability (see Rolando McClain). But I would be surprised if it happened.
I know there was concern about Griffin's knee when he entered the draft years ago. And I'm not sure he can play from the pocket. I do believe a change of scenery will do him well, but I don't know if it will be any better than it was on that Thanksgiving Day for him.
Rod Marinelli would like Greg Hardy to remain a Cowboy; 'The future could be really special for him' - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Marinelli is all for Greg Hardy staying in Dallas.
"Oh, yeah" was Marinelli's response Thursday when asked if he wanted the veteran starting right defensive end to return.
"Where he's heading and the work habits and those things that he has, I think the future could be really special for him," Marinelli added.
In 11 games this season, Hardy leads the Cowboys in quarterback pressures with 30 and is second in sacks with six.
Young corners show promise for Cowboys - Dan Rogers, Shreveport Times.
The much-maligned Cowboys secondary has been much better against the pass this season than in recent years, Rogers writes, and he has the numbers to prove it:
Here is the how the pass defense has improved during the Marinelli years.
2013, allowed 286.8 yards per game (ranked 30th)
2014, allowed 257.5 yards per game (ranked 28th)
2015, allowed 223.0 yards per game (ranked 5th
The Cowboys are heading in the right direction when it comes to developing their secondary. They still have some work to do, but if they start getting production from one of these unsung players, this could put them in better shape for 2016.
Cowboys rank near bottom of league in net return points - Chase Stuart, Footballperspecive.com
The Cowboys rank 28th net points gained on return TDs (i.e., defensive, special teams) with -28 points. For perspective, Arizona tops the league with +43 points.
How I'd grade Cowboys' Byron Jones, Randy Gregory and La'el Collins - Jon Machota, SportsDay
In a chat, Machota talked about how he'd grade the three Cowboys rookies.
I'd give Byron Jones an A-minus. His versatility has been outstanding. The only thing missing is the turnovers. La'el Collins would get a B. His upside is obvious. He's shown flashes. Now he just has to be more consistent. I'd give Randy Gregory an incomplete. He has some unique ability that could turn him into an elite pass rusher down the road, but he has to bulk up and stay healthy.
Hamstring injury could cost Cowboys' Sean Lee $2 million Sunday - Brandon George, SportsDay
Lee didn't practice Friday due to a hamstring injury, and if he misses Sunday's game, that could cost him dearly.
If Lee can't play Sunday, he could lose out on $2 million. Lee has a play-time incentive in his contract that stipulates if he plays in 80 percent or more of the Cowboys' defensive snaps this season his base salary in 2016 increases by $2 million to $5 million.
Going into Sunday, Lee has played in 82.1 percent (812 of 989) of the Cowboys' snaps. The Cowboys defense has averaged 66 plays per game this season. If the Cowboys defense is on the field for 66 plays Sunday against the Redskins and Lee misses the game, his play-time percentage in 2015 would drop to 77 percent.
Scout's Notebook: What To Watch For During The Season Finale - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
The Broad One wonders about Hardy's future in Dallas.
Greg Hardy might be playing in his last game for the Cowboys on Sunday, and it will be up for debate whether to bring him back. Hardy might not be that elite player that I thought he would be, but from my first glace of this draft class – that edge rusher might be a difficult player to find in the draft. With Hardy needing two sacks to trigger an incentive in his contract, look for him to try and finish the season strong. Trent Williams has been a little banged up and might not be up to the challenge of having to deal with a motivated Hardy.
Cowboys' Week 17 Game Could End The Dallas Tenure Of Several Players - KD Drummond, CowboysHQ Scout
The noble Drummond also wonders about Hardy's future in Dallas.
I firmly believed that Dallas would hang onto Hardy when the biggest infraction was the release of the photos from the case he was already punished for. Things got sticky for Hardy after a series of social media missteps and sideline antics made national headlines, but things have calmed down over the last two months. While Hardy's sack totals have slowed as well, he is still an impact player that is creating opportunities for the rest of the defensive line. His price tag might just have come down to the point that him returning makes both on-field and financial sense.
Cousins, starters expected to play for Redskins at Cowboys - USA Today staff
Skins coach Gruden says 'all our guys are starting' at Dallas but it's unclear how much they'll play.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is expected to start Sunday's regular-season finale at Dallas, though coach Jay Gruden wouldn't say how much his top players will stay in the game.
Gruden said after practice Thursday that "all our guys are starting," and added that "how I substitute throughout the course of the game will be dependent on how we're doing health-wise and the situation of the game."
Redskins head to Dallas before the real fun begins - George Wallace, WTOP
The Redskins will take the field on Sunday unsure whether they want to win or rest. Jay Gruden says it's the former.
"It’s important for us to be healthy come playoff time, but it is also to have some kind of momentum also going in," he said. "I’d like to end on a four-game winning streak, win three games in a row on the road, finish the fourth quarter 4-0, finish 9-7. I think it’s a hell of a step in the right direction. The guys that are able to play are planning on playing and competing."
After Further Review: Why Kirk Cousins is playing like a franchise QB - Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com
Kirk Cousins has teased, tantalized and tortured Redskins fans since being picked in 2012. And now he finally looks the part of a franchise quarterback. Prisco explains the biggest improvement in his game.
There are a lot of reasons for the improved play of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who just might be playing himself into a mega-deal as the team's franchise passer.
But the one that stands out is improved accuracy. For Cousins, it has been markedly improved and the biggest reason he's on a torrid pace under center.
Giants, Eagles can take note: Notre Dame's Brian Kelly not ruling out coaching in the NFL, provided that he has "complete control" over personnel decision - James Cratch, NJ.com
These guys never learn.
Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge!
If you haven't yet submitted your picks, do it now before you forget to do it in all the New Year celebration. Here's the link to the entry form.
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You still have until 1:00 pm EST on Sunday to submit your picks, but why not get the new year started on the right foot and make your picks now.