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Cowboys News: Draft Targets Narrowed To Tak McKinley, Charles Harris, And Taco Charlton?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Pre-draft visitor list provides draft-day hints; four infuriating draft-day moves; Cowboys locked in on defensive ends in the first round?

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for draft-day hints? Numbers show this list has been a great indicator of Cowboys' plans - SportsDay Staff
In a recent podcast, Jon Machota and Brandon George discussed the Cowboys Pre-draft visitor list, which now includes 27 of a possible 30 visitors. Here's Machota on his impression of the list.

Jon Machota: The thing that jumps out to me most is there's only two offensive players. The needs are obviously on defense.

It's also how many defensive ends and corners that are in that group. There's just no way that they're coming out of this draft not having at least one or two defensive ends and at least one or two corners to add to the mix. Not only to get younger, but also to get new pieces to work with. If they were sitting there at four, I think we've have a pretty good understanding of who they could be going for.

Right now, I look at this list and I'd say Tak McKinley is the one that interests me the most.

Here's the full list:

Cowboys Pre-draft Visitors per 4/16/2017
CBS Rank Name POS College Proj. Rd Source
Defensive Ends
Derek Barnett DE Tennessee 1 Albert Breer, NFL
24 Taco Charlton DE Michigan 1 Mike Rothstein, ESPN
32 Charles Harris DE Missouri 1-2 Bobby Belt
34 Takkarist McKinley DE UCLA 1-2 Courtney Fallon, NFL
37 Tyus Bowser DE Houston 1-2 Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
42 T.J. Watt DE Wisconsin 2 Jeremy Bergman, NFL
Tarell Basham
DE Ohio 2 Bobby Belt
158 Tanoh Kpassagnon
DE Villanova 3-4 NFL Draft Insider
Tre'Davious White CB LSU 1-2 Todd Archer
Kevin King CB Washington 1-2 Bobby Belt
36 Gareon Conley CB Ohio State 1-2 Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
Chidobe Awuzie CB Colorado 1-2 Laurie Horech, Fox
Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson 2 Ian Rapoport, NFL
Adoree' Jackson
CB USC 2 Ian Rapoport, NFL
Fabian Moreau CB UCLA 2 Todd Archer
58 Teez Tabor CB Florida 2 Todd Archer
66 Quincy Wilson CB Florida 2 Todd Archer
145 Shaquill Griffin CB Central Florida 4-5 Conor Orr, NFL
175 Damontae Kazee CB San Diego State 5 Tony Pauline
287 Treston Decoud CB Oregon State 7-FA Treston Decoud
Obi Melifonwu SS Connecticut 1-2 Albert Breer, NFL
Marcus Williams FS Utah 2-3 Dane Brugler, CBS
110 Justin Evans S Texas A&M 3-4 Bobby Belt
151 Xavier Woods SS Louisiana Tech 4-5 Albert Breer, NFL
243 Tedric Thompson S Colorado 7 Bobby Belt
Wide Receivers
43 Curtis Samuel
WR Ohio State 2 Dane Brugler
80 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR USC 2-3 Albert Breer, NFL

Will DE Charles Harris be availabe at No. 28 - Todd Archer, ESPN
This week's version of the Five Wonders, Todd Archer wonders if the Cowboys will get a shot at Harris.

With the draft two weeks away, I wonder if the player that would be at the top of my wish list, Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, will be available with the 28th overall pick.

I hate using school history as a reason to draft a player. Not every Wisconsin offensive lineman turns out like Joe Thomas or Frederick, but they do seem to be pretty good. Missouri has put out some quality pass-rushers during the past few years. Aldon Smith has had off-field issues but his talent is unquestioned. Shane Ray has done well in his first two seasons. Kony Ealy has had moments.

Harris had 16 sacks and 31 tackles for loss the past two seasons at Missouri. He is a speed rusher's speed rusher. He can bend around the corner. He's got strong hands. I thought he would have had a better combine with his workout numbers, but him not truly lighting it up could keep him in the Cowboys' first-round range.

Cowboys’ need at defensive end could put target on UCLA’s McKinley - Charean Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In her latest mock draft, Williams has the Cowboys taking Takkarist McKinley.

The Dallas Cowboys finished 26th against the pass, made only nine interceptions and lost four secondary players in free agency. They could use secondary help. They also made only 36 sacks and haven’t had a player with double-digit sacks since defensive tackle Jason Hatcher had 11 in 2013. The Cowboys could use a "war daddy" pass rusher.

The Cowboys, holding the 28th spot, are at the mercy of other teams unless they decide to trade up. Derek Barnett, Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, T.J. Watt and Takkarist McKinley are among the projected first-round defensive ends who have taken pre-draft visits to The Star, and Kevin King, Adoree’ Jackson and Gareon Conley are among the cornerbacks to visit.

28. Dallas: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA – It seems inevitable that the Cowboys will draft the highest-rated DL or CB on their board.

2017 NFL Mock Draft: Three-round mock includes 15 trades, seven quarterbacks - R.J. White,
Taco Charlton is also a name frequently mocked to Dallas, and in this mock Cowboys move up four spots to get him, though they get an extra pick in the process:

TRADE: 24. Dallas Cowboys (from Oakland)

Cowboys get: First-round pick (No. 24), fourth (No. 129), seventh (No. 242)

Raiders get: First-round pick (No. 28), third (No. 92)

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: The Cowboys should be perfectly content staying put at No. 28 and drafting someone to help the secondary, but if the right pass-rush prospect makes it into the 20s, they would have to consider moving up. They brought Charlton and Derek Barnett in for private workouts, and with Charlton making it through the early 20s, it makes sense for the Cowboys to make the move and grab a guy who should be a solid starter at worst and a "war daddy" at best.

Four Daring Predictions About The Cowboys’ 2017 NFL Draft - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Ryle warns us that we might not like any of his four predictions. Here's the one I dislike the most:

If you are looking for a defensive end early, prepare for disappointment. Yeah, this one is going to raise a few hackles, but there is a simple reality that is being undervalued (at least in this guy’s opinion): The defensive end room is already well stocked, and there are players coming back from injury. Charles Tapper is poised to prove why the team took him in the fourth round. DeMarcus Lawrence has been recovering from surgery (and gaining a lot of weight, from photos of him), but now he is going into the offseason program. Benson Mayowa had a solid if unspectacular year. Damontre Moore is an intriguing reclamation project with a lot of talent if he can just get his head straight (with some help from Rod Marinelli).

And then there is David Irving. As we have covered, he was evaluated by NFL writer Lance Zierlein as worth the twelfth overall pick in 2015. Now, that is just one analyst’s opinion, but Zierlien is a pretty credible guy, and that is some rich territory.

Nice try, Tom, but I'm not buying it.

Cowboys, Falcons, Bucs Eyeing Texas A&M Safety Justin Evans - Dallas Robinson,
Lots of buzz around Justin Evans, a player many Cowboys fans were hoping to be available in the third round.

Texas A&M Justin Evans has a strong chance of being selected in the back end of the first round of the draft, according to Tony Pauline of, and the Cowboys, Falcons, and Buccaneers are among the NFL teams with the most interest in the defensive back prospect.Justin Evans (Vertical)

Evans has met with both Dallas and Atlanta, per Pauline. The Cowboys saw a high percentage of their defensive secondary leave during the free agent period, and two of their top three safeties — Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox — signed multi-year deals with rival clubs. The Falcons, meanwhile, may view Evans as an improvement over incumbent defender Ricardo Allen, as Evans would give head coach Dan Quinn an Earl Thomas-esque defender, per Pauline. Dallas and Atlanta hold the No. 28 and No. 31 picks, respectively.

Ohio State CB Gareon Conley is getting a lot of late buzz - Tony Pauline, Draft Analyst
In addition to Evans, Conley is another defensive back who may have been steadily rising up draft boards.

The other defensive back making his way up boards is Gareon Conley of Ohio State, someone I’ve gushed over for the past four months. Conley, who’s scheduled to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars this coming Monday, has impressed scouts in a variety of ways. His game film is outstanding, as Conley rarely put a foot wrong over the past two seasons and made big plays during important games. He’s been lauded for his work ethic and temperament, and many feel Conley is the most NFL-ready of all the top-rated cornerbacks in the draft -- an opinion I agree with.

I’ll go on record and say I wouldn’t be surprised if Conley is the first cornerback selected in the draft, a product of his surge up draft boards and teammate Marcus Lattimore being overrated.

The New Orleans Saints have shown a lot of interest in Conley as have the Tennessee Titans, who spent extensive time with him at Ohio State's pro day and later flew him in for an official visit.


Four Moves The Cowboys Could Make On Draft Day That Would Be Infuriating - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
One of the four things Sisemore would find infuriating is a trade-up in the first round.

If there were ever a year to not trade up, it is this year. Outside of about three players, there is no player worth trading up for. If Derek Barnett falls, let him fall, don’t be tempted to go up and give up more picks to grab him. The likelihood of a player that the Cowboys really like at a position they need is pretty high this year. The last thing fans want to see is the Cowboys trading up for the fourth-best edge rusher or third-best cornerback.

Would Cowboys take another second-round draft gamble? Only if this happens ... - SportsDay
Jon Machota answered questions in a live chat on Friday.

Should fans be worried that Cowboys will take a big gamble in the second round of the draft as they've done the past couple of years?

Jon Machota: I think the only way that happens is if they add picks by trading out of 28. If they add an extra draft choice maybe that opens the door to take a chance in the early rounds. If they don't make any moves in the early rounds and they draft where they're currently slotted, I don't think the Cowboys will take any chances in the first two rounds. They'll add two players who can help immediately, both likely on defense.


Union knows who it would pick to replace Blandino - Tom Pelissero
The referee's union is not shy about what it thinks Blandino's biggest issue was, and want to see someone 'who's been in the NFL, on the field' as new head of officiating.

Scott Green – the former NFL referee who’s now executive director of the NFL Referees Association – hopes the league’s next head of officiating has experience Blandino didn’t.

"We definitely would like to see someone who’s been in the NFL, on the field, and understands what it’s like to be out there and what our members go through on a weekly basis," Green told USA TODAY Sports on Friday, hours after the NFL’s surprising announcement that Blandino had resigned as senior vice president of officiating.