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Cowboys News & Notes: Has Dallas Really Improved Itself In Free Agency?

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A look at what the team has accomplished, or at least thinks it has. And of course, some draft talk.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Dallas Cowboys better? In some ways they are - Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN

Todd Archer looks at the free agent moves, both external and internal, and finds a small measure of improvement, mostly in the Cedric Thornton and Alfred Morris signings. Probably the most important factor is still this:

Oh, and as (Jerry) Jones said, Romo, Bryant and Scandrick will be healthy in 2016.

How Free Agency Has Helped The Cowboys’ Draft Flexibility To This Point | Dallas Cowboys

The approach of the Cowboys in free agency was always about setting up the draft, not finding the final answer at any position on the roster. That seems to have been accomplished, at least in the mind of the owner/general manager/verbose spokesperson.

Although the Cowboys continue to explore the free agent market, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes the team has put itself in good position - through retaining their own players and through free agent signings outside the organization - to draft best player available a month from now.

Jason Garrett Gives His Thoughts On Three Cowboys Free Agency Signings | Dallas Cowboys

The head coach is a paragon of positive speaking, and predictably has nothing but good things to say about the three newest member of the Cowboys. But it is interesting to see how his favorable comments about running back Alfred Morris also include a little shade thrown in the direction of Darren McFadden.

"The best runners I've been around, they get hit at three yards and they make four and a half and five. They get hit at five and they make six or seven. And he's done that throughout his career regardless of what the run style is."

Cowboys 2016 Free Agency: Dallas To Meet With Jason Jones, Joe Looney - Blogging The Boys

As OCC reported, free agency is still very much a work in progress in Dallas. Jason Jones shows they are still looking to improve the defensive line, while Joe Looney looks like a candidate to replace Mackenzy Bernadeau, lost to free agency, as a flexible backup center/guard.

As NFC East’s longest-tenured coach, Jason Garrett focused on present - Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN

Another trait Garrett has is that he seldom fails to preach his own philosophy about the team, and he always looks forward, not back, as demonstrated by his answer when asked about the Great Debacle of 2015.

"Again, we're focused on what we can do right now to have the best football team this year in 2016," he said. "You learn from things that went well in the past; you learn from things that didn't go well. You're always trying to grow, but you want to have your focus on the opportunity now. So, there are a lot of things as individuals, and as a football team, we'll grow and benefit from that maybe didn't go quite as well as we wanted it to last year. But we have to take full advantage of those experiences to get better."

Dallas Cowboys: Panthers' Josh Norman has gone from trashing Dez Bryant to labeling him this ... | SportsDay

Last season, Josh Norman infamously made some disparaging comments about Dez Bryant following the Thanksgiving Day game when the Panthers defeated the Cowboys. But, perhaps in recognition of the injury Bryant was playing through, Norman listed Bryant among his top five receivers in the league. His remarks got more play in the national media for the fact he left Odell Beckham off his list.

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Of course, this time of year, it is obligatory to talk a little draft.

2016 NFL mock draft: Carson Wentz is the choice for the Dallas Cowboys - SBNation.com

The SBN NFL umbrella site conducts a mock draft each year with the selections being made by the respective sites of the teams, and this year OCC handled the first round pick for us. His choice was one that is sure to generate a little controversy.

You do not use the fourth overall pick to plug holes in your roster. At No. 4 you select a transformational talent that sets up your franchise for the next decade and a half.

Despite what they've been saying publicly, privately the Cowboys have been sold on Carson Wentz ever since they coached him at the Senior Bowl. By selecting Wentz, who has all the tools to be a standout player in the NFL, they secure the game's most important position and won't pick this high again for a long time.

Dallas Cowboys: Bob Sturm's draft profile series: Why Dak Prescott is a QB Cowboys, others could consider worthy of developing | SportsDay

Of course, we have absolutely no say in which players the Cowboys will take. If they do not get a QB in the first round, they are probably going to be looking for someone with some promise of development later. The Sturminator takes a look at Dak Prescott, who has been getting some serious attention from the scouting department.

As we said above, the odds of QBs in this range of a draft developing into something special are much longer than most pundits (or teams) are willing to admit. That said, at the right price (top of Round 3?), you can see why Prescott may be a prospect that a coach like Scott Linehan believes he can develop and get to agree to the Romo retirement timeline. There are certainly traits and flashes where you can see a high ceiling -- if you want to fall in love, watch his bowl game vs. N.C. State. Now, in a QB-starved league, might he go well beyond pick No. 67? Reports suggest Denver is salivating at the end of Round 2.

Will The Dallas Cowboys Draft A Wide Receiver Early? | Inside The Star

As has been discussed ad nauseum here, the injury to Bryant was, along with those to Tony Romo and Orlando Scandrick, the chief reason for the dismal results last season. That makes the idea of taking a highly rated receiver to both compliment and back him up an attractive idea, and this piece outlines what the team may be looking for if they go that direction.

Well, the Cowboys seem to be mostly interested in wide receivers that fit into a certain criteria. If you look at the receivers on the current roster you will notice a trend. With the exceptions of Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead, every other receiver that is currently on the roster is at least 6'2″ and approximately 220 pounds.

If the Cowboys stick to this criteria it helps considerably when determining which wide receivers they would be interested in selecting in the first couple of rounds.

Laquon Treadwell (6'2″, 221), Josh Doctson (6'2″, 202), and Michael Thomas (6'3″, 212) are really the only receivers that fit into the Cowboys criteria and the most likely to be drafted in round one or two.

Dez Bryant-like Laquon Treadwell runs slow 40 time, scheduled to meet with Cowboys | SportsDay

Speaking of Treadwell, you can add his name to the list of those having meeting with the Cowboys (although the article is not clear as to whether this is an official visit or not).

National writer: Cowboys could be 'great fit' for DE Robert Nkemdiche if he falls to pick No. 34 | SportsDay

Dallas is still in need of more talent along the defensive line, and Robert Nkemdiche has that. He also has some serious off field issues that may cause him to slide despite having apparent first round talent. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network sees him as a possible choice if he makes it to Dallas' second round slot.

"The team not only took chances on Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory, when others appeared to deem those ultra-talented players as untouchable, but Marinelli has helped a number of underachievers maximize their potential under his direction," Brooks said. "Considering Nkemdiche's natural fit as a 3-technique in Marinelli's scheme, a move for the Rebels' standout could be in the draft-day plans for the Cowboys."

The worst Cowboys draft classes of the Jerry Jones era | SportsDay

This may seem a depressing thing to wind up our news links with, but here is the silver lining: Of this list of bad draft classes, none came after the dismal 2009 class (when almost no one in the entire league got much value). Since then, there has been a positive trend for Dallas.

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