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Cowboys News: Why The 2016 NFL Draft Opened The Championship Window Wide For The Dallas Cowboys

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys are headed for a special window; 5 Cowboys make PFF 'top 50 NFL players' list; Why Dak is one of NFL’s most accurate passers.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Astounding! These raw numbers will make you think Cowboys are headed for a special window - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Bob Sturm takes a look at the 2016 draft via snap counts and is thunderstruck.

I have spent 19 years covering the Dallas Cowboys and I have never seen a draft like this. I am reminded to not use superlatives when discussing this compared to great drafts in Cowboys history, or even NFL history, but we have to be honest -- this one seems historic. Time will be required for us to know where some of these guys go in their careers and we certainly have to consider that two of the top four picks have yet to play a single snap, but the excitement level from the 2016 draft is incredibly high.

But in 2016, the Cowboys drafted so well that they had instant starters at some of the most important positions, including, of course, the most important position. I cannot stress how much the development of Dak Prescott will affect every thought about this draft. Let's be honest, Zeke at No. 4 is exactly the type of player you would want to get at No. 4. If you got ordinary at that spot, you would hear about it for years. But they got extraordinary.

Now, with Prescott and the huge potential of linebacker Jaylon Smith, the sky seems like the limit for this group, to perhaps do something like the Seahawks' drafts of 2010-2012, when they basically built a multiple-Super Bowl team by hitting on guys in April at key positions, well past the first round, for three straight years.

The takeaway? This draft was amazing. You already knew that, but the idea that Smith and Tapper didn't play at all has you wondering if the 2016 class would have easily cleared 4,000 snaps this season and still helped put together a 13-3-type of year.

Play the rookies a ton and still win all the games? That makes you think 2017-20 could be pretty a special time around here.

5 Cowboys make PFF 'top 50 NFL players' - SportsDay Staff
The venerable DMN is almost giddy with excitement about yet another PFF list.

ProFootballFocus.com recently released its top 50 for the 2017 season. How many Cowboys are featured on the list?

Five, as in 10 percent of the entire list. The most of any NFL team.

The list is a bit unusual in that it has Travis Frederick (16th overall) ranked as the top Cowboy ahead of Tyron Smith (21), Zack Martin (34), Ezekiel Elliott (45), and Sean Lee (48).

"Frederick typically doesn't distance himself in a significant way from the rest of the league's best centers in grading terms, but he is asked to do more in terms of types of blocks by his offense than any of the others, and that is why he is higher on this list."

"Frederick now hasn't allowed a sack in two years of play and just one in the past three seasons combined."


Ranking the Most Accurate Passers - Doug Farrar, Bleacher Report
Farrar proposes a ranking of the most accurate passers but doesn't base it on completion percentage alone. Without explaining exactly how, he factors in stuff like deep ball accuracy, quality of targets, quality of the offensive line, and the passing playbook, to arrive at his ranking that has Dak Prescott as the 9th most accurate QB in the league.

In 2016, Dak Prescott set an NFL record for rookie quarterbacks with a 67.76 percent completion rate, completing 311 passes in 459 attempts for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. It took a while for the fourth-rounder from Mississippi State to establish chemistry on the deep ball with top receiver Dez Bryant, but Prescott was especially impressive as his first NFL season went along—he threw 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions from November through January.

Moreover, he wasn't just dinking and dunking. Prescott was especially impressive on intermediate to deep passes—not only does he have the velocity to make just about any throw from the pocket or on the run, but he can also deliver the ball to his receivers with multiple arcs and speeds. Per ESPN.com, he completed 60.6 percent of his passes from 11 to 20 yards downfield with six touchdowns and no interceptions, and 41.4 percent of his passes from 21 to 30 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

As Prescott gained the trust of his coaching staff through the season and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan started to open up the passing game, Prescott was able to show the full range of his talent—from zone-read plays to deep passes with multiple reads.

If he stays on this kind of track, Prescott could lead the new wave of young quarterbacks. He's got an impressive cadre of receivers, a great running game and the best offensive line in football, but he's bringing a lot to the table as well.

Why, unlike fans, Cowboys have supreme confidence in 'machine-like' Kellen Moore as their backup QB - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Narrowly avoiding a Machine Gun Kelly reference in the article title, Machota explains what the Cowboys like about Moore.

The lack of size and arm strength don't bother Linehan. Moore's understanding of the offense and ability to move the chains are more important.

Both were on display at times during last week's three-day minicamp. Moore's best ball came in the final minutes of the last practice. Facing third-and-long, he connected with a single-covered Uzoma Nwachukwu running along the left sideline for roughly 40 yards. A questionable holding call against undrafted rookie right guard Dan Skipper wiped out the play, but the coaches were thrilled with Moore's accuracy in that situation.

"He's like a machine," Linehan said. "He anticipates and sees guys open. He's extremely accurate. A lot of guys get it done different ways, but guys don't last long if they can't hit moving targets on the run. That's what he does best."

Butler added: "He throws passes with a high level of anticipation. Guys like to talk about his arm strength like he doesn't have it, but if you beat it with smarts and anticipation it doesn't matter how strong your arm is; the ball is going to be there when it's supposed to be."

Why Cowboys fans shouldn't worry if Jeff Heath starts at safety - SportsDay Staff
Jon Machota answered questions about the team in a live chat on Friday and answered this question about Heath.

Question: Aren't we getting to the point where it'll be too late to have someone other than Jeff Heath start at safety?

Jon Machota: I don't think the Cowboys view that as a problem. Heath was outstanding during the first minicamp practice, picking off two Dak Prescott passes. Like Kellen Moore and Terrance Williams, Heath is another guy the Cowboys have a lot more confidence in than the fans do. From everything I've seen and heard, I'm expecting Heath to be one of the starting safeties Week 1.

Dez Bryant Believes Cowboys’ Rookie Corners Will Make Names For Themselves - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis have caught Dez Bryant's attention this offseason, Phillips writes.

They haven’t backed down in practice against a Cowboys offense that ranked fifth in total yardage and fifth in points scored last season.

“Those guys, they’ve been competing strong,” Bryant said. “That’s what I love about them, win, lose or draw. Not just me, but the rest of these guys in this locker room, they’ll tell you we’ll take that. Before it’s all said and done, y’all are going to know those guys’ names in this league.”

“It’s a mindset of even though you’re a rookie, act like you’ve been here before,” Bryant said. “I feel like they’ve been doing an outstanding job of that.”

Cowboys' Scandrick Has Plenty to Prove in 2017 - Chris James, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
The Cowboys got a lot younger in the secondary this offseason, but Scandrick isn't particularly worried about it.

“Of course when they bring in new people it gives you extra motivation,” Scandrick replied. “But I don’t look at it as that. I look at it as I’m going to do the things the way that I do them, which is the right way and if those guys pick up something from me, as I did from Terence Newman or Anthony Henry or Pacman Jones, that will help them in their career.”

“Last year was a grind; I have never been through an injury,” said Scandrick. “Then to come back from a major knee surgery and deal with a soft tissue injury and then deal with a foot injury, it was just a lot. But that’s behind me. That all just made me stronger. I’ve refocused this offseason and I accept the challenge of the new guys coming in.”

“I’m not going to give anybody my job and I’m going to come work every day,” said Scandrick. “I want to be back to where I was.”

“The time is now and my time is now.”

Mailbag: Brice Butler’s Development? Bryan Broaddus & Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus and Phillips tackle a reader question about Brice Butler's progress.

Bryan: I believe that Butler will be one of the five that they keep. The question will be do they keep a 6th one? You're right about his top end speed. In these practices his consistency has improved so that's a plus going forward.

Rob: Butler’s teammates will tell you he’s easily one of the fastest players on the team, but he’s also been one of the more consistent receivers this offseason, in my opinion. When the Cowboys drafted Noah Brown, some people instantly thought Butler’s roster spot could be in jeopardy. But here’s the thing: if Dez Bryant were to miss any time, it’s nice to have Butler’s experience as an outside receiver who has started games in this league.

Damontre Moore could end up starting for Cowboys - Brian Perroni, Gigem247
Texas A&M fans are excited about Damontre Moore possibly getting the first start of his NFL career with his hometown Dallas Cowboys.

Damontre Moore was once a very promising prospect, earning All-American honors as a junior at Texas A&M before declaring early for the NFL draft. Expected to be a first-round pick, he saw his draft stock fall after poor workouts and was taken in the third round by the New York Giants in 2013.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound defender played in four games with Seattle in 2016 before being released and signing with his hometown Dallas Cowboys this offseason.

Though he has never started a game in his four-year career, that could change this year.

9 NFL defensive backs ready to break out in 2017 - Cameron Da Silva, FOX Sports
Topping the list of potential breakout corners is none other than the Cowboys' Anthony Brown, who some would argue already had his breakout last year.

The Cowboys are going much younger in the secondary this season after opting not to re-sign Brandon Carr, Barry Church or Morris Claiborne. As a result, young guys like Brown, Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones will be asked to step up. Brown in particular will play a huge role in Year 2 after emerging as a starter late last season.

A sixth-round pick in 2016, Brown has all the traits you want in a shutdown cornerback: good feet, sticky in coverage, physicality, great awareness. And as a result of that, he’ll likely be the team’s No. 1 corner to start the year.

In 10 starts last season, he had eight passes defensed, one interception and a forced fumble, proving to be around the ball at all times. Brown is going to play a huge role in Dallas’ secondary and his play will directly impact how the defense as a whole performs.


From The FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there's a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

The Greatest Rookie QB Seasons in NFL History (Part 1 of 3) - Blogging The Boys
BTB-member Landry's Fedora takes a detailed, stat-based look at 126 rookie QB seasons, and adjusts the metrics he uses to the era each QB played in, and offers the following conclusion:

Dak comes in at number 3, with some of the greatest rookie QB stats ever, and his Int %+ figure of 244.2 (remember, larger is better) is 14.5% better than second-best Dan Marino. His ability to protect the ball is truly something special indeed, and while he can get better in terms of touchdown efficiency (Romo was truly one of the best in that aspect), his interception percentage is already elite, which should help his confidence grow in terms of taking more chances to throw TDs.

Overall, I’m ecstatic about Dak’s potential and prospects going forward. Of course, there will always be those who bring up RG3 (and statistically, his rookie season was awesome) and project Dak to fail in his career like Griffin, but those of us who watched both know the way they play is completely different. While none of us know for certain what the rest of Dak’s NFL years will entail, I think looking at the company he kept his first year gives us great confidence.