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Cowboys News: 10 experts make the Cowboys first-round prediction, Senior Bowl practice updates

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-North Practice Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft Tracker - John Hancock, DallasNews
Ten experts make their draft predictions for who they believe the Cowboys will select with the 19th overall pick. Here's from Mel Kiper Jr.'s pick:

The rest of the experts are picking the following players: DT Maurice Hurst (3), DT Da'Ron Payne (2), DT Christian Wilkins [did not enter the draft], WR Michael Gallup, WR Christian Kirk, S Derwin James,

Check out the write-up on each in the orginal article.

3 players Dallas Cowboys fans should watch in Saturday's Senior Bowl - Brandon George, SportsDay

If you've ever watched the Cowboy war room when they are on the clock in the second round, you can usually see them pretty excited about a player still left on the board. Last year, that excitement came from Chidobe Awuzie, who some had given a late-first round grade. The team is likely going to be pretty stoked about a different player this year and it could end up being a talented offensive lineman that slides right to them.

The Cowboys are in need of an offensive guard with starting left guard Jonathan Cooper set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Hernandez brings the size (6-2, 340) and the power. He had a strong week of practices and impressed many of the scouts. For his size, he's quick on his feet. But what really stands out is his power and the way he moves defensive linemen backward.

Will Hernandez on draft radar - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys could use some help on the offensive line and Will Hernandez is a name that keeps coming up. Drew Davison had a chance to ask him a few questions, including how he would feel to play for America's Team.

What would it mean to play for the Cowboys?

“I’d love to. I’d be 100 percent in, loyal to the bone. It’d mean everything to me. It’d be a complete honor. I look up to those guys (on the Cowboys’ offensive line). Those guys are awesome to watch. I know I’d learn so much from them and become a better player just by playing next to them.”

Oklahoma defensive end Okoronkwo familiar with team - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Will Hernandez isn’t the only prospect who would like to wear the star next season. The Cowboys drafted Oklahoma's edge rush Charles Tapper a couple years ago. Could they do it again this year by taking Ogbonnia Okoronkwo? He's got some great Rod Marinelli traits.

“I have a great first step,” Okoronkwo said. “My bend around the edge is second to none.”

Okoronkwo believes he has a “very high ceiling” because he didn’t start playing football until his junior year at Alief Taylor High School in Houston. He described himself as a work-in-progress and his productivity the final two years in college suggests he’s grown in time.

Here is a nice clip to acclimate yourself with Okoronkwo.

The forgotten Cowboy: Can Charles Tapper finally break out in 2018? - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Speaking of Tapper, it's real easy to lose sight of him with the emergence of DeMarcus Lawrence and first-round investment of Taco Charlton. But does he still have anything to offer the Cowboys?

Maybe Charles Tapper can surprise in 2018 by staying healthy and producing. After being drafted in the fourth round in 2016, Tapper has played in two games in two years and gathered one sack. The rest of his stint with the Cowboys has been injury-filled.

Tapper was a Combine darling and had some real stats from his days in Oklahoma to back it up. He played out of position when the Sooners changed defenses and that probably hurt his draft stock because his stats were down. But people rave about his quickness and first step, key traits for a pass-rush defensive end.

PFF's 2018 Senior Bowl coverage - Staff, Pro Football Focus
Pro Football Focus does a nice job providing some detailed coverage of the college prospects playing in the Senior Bowl. Check out how some of the players are performing, including some familiar names being linked to the Cowboys:

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington brings in two contested catches against Southern cornerback Danny Johnson

Oklahoma edge defender Ogbonnia Okoronkwo easily wins in his first pass-rush drill of the afternoon

UTSA edge defender Marcus Davenport is quick to pop upright, letting blockers get into his frame and control him at the line of scrimmage, showed his movement earlier in the afternoon

UTSA guard Will Hernandez displaying awesome strength in all of his drills

The in-state draft prospect who fell short of expectations at Senior Bowl practices - Dane Brugler, SportsDay
It hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows for all of the names buzzing around Cowboys Nation. As Dane Brugler expains, one Texas native had a rough go.

Question: Who was the D-FW HS/Texas college prospect with the roughest week of practices down in Mobile?

Dane Brugler: UTSA's Marcus Davenport didn't live up to the expectations of many during practice, which has created several narratives about him. However, Davenport is a traits player who is still raw so it was to be expected that he would have some struggles. West Georgia OT Desmond Harrison (Texas transfer) was only 279 pounds during the weigh-ins and lacked the bulk or frame ideal for the position. And unfortunately a knee issue kept him from playing.

Why defensive line is the top priority - Christian Blood, The Landry Hat
The Cowboys can go a lot of different ways with the 19th overall pick this April, but should they try to gear it towards a specific position of need? The emergence of DeMarcus Lawrence and the investment of Taco Charlton has put the talks of DL on the down-low recently, but does it still remain a higher priority than we think? Christian Blood offers up this analogy when you're shopping for talented players.

I’m all for taking the best player available at any given moment, but if you’re out of eggs while trying to make an omelette and you see that toilet paper is a great buy at that moment, you still go with the eggs. Drafting for need is only a problem if that need is reached for, which I would expect the Cowboys to avoid.

With a boatload of quarterbacks expected to be selected in the first-round next April, the Cowboys should have every opportunity to grab an interior defender like Christian Wilkins of Clemson or Da’Ron Payne of Alabama.

Or, how about a quick edge rusher like Clelin Ferrell, also of Clemson, or lightening-fast Arden Key of LSU?


Coaching Staff Turnovers Promises To Bring New Looks, New Ideas - Staff, The Mothership
Fans hoping for change have to be optimistic about the new possibilities with the Cowboys coaching carousel. What that all means remains to be seen, but Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, expects things to be different.

I think that’s what this offseason is about. That’s what these position coaches are about,” said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “To change it up, change it up more during the season, from the beginning to the middle to the end of the season. I think you’ll see a lot more variation in what we’re doing. Variation in terms of schemes, technique, I think you’re going to see more variation.”

Here's what former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard brings to the Cowboys - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
The addition of Kris Richard (pronounced Ri-Shard) has many Cowboys fans excited. With a young group of defensive backs now in Dallas, he's going to have the task of turning that potential into production. As Richard Sherman (pronounced Ri-Churd) indicated, his former defensive coordinator has already proven he could do it once.

Prior to Richard's promotion to defensive coordinator in 2015, Richard Sherman told Seahawks.com: "He took a rag-tag bunch of DBs in 2011 and made them perennial All-Pros and Pro Bowlers, and you don't hear his name being mentioned much for d-coordinator jobs and things like that, which I think it should. We obviously know what kind of coach he is and what he's done, but obviously everyone else doesn't."

With the Cowboys hiring Kris Richard, they should move Byron Jones to cornerback - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
What kind of changes are coming with their new secondary coach? One popular opinion is transitioning Byron Jones from safety to cornerback. Our own Michael Sisemore offers up some reasoning why a change would make sense.

There is speculation all over about potentially moving Jones to cornerback, where he played early on with the Cowboys. The strengths of Byron Jones’ game is his ability to cover and he’s especially solid in man coverage. Coming out of Connecticut, all the raves about Jones had to do with his athleticism and ability to shadow his man, leaving the thinnest amount of space between he and his opponent. That sounds like a cornerback and Jones certainly has the length that Richard covets in his corners.

During Richard’s coaching career with Seattle, they have only drafted one cornerback that is below six feet and that was Walter Thurmond III at 5’11. If you look at the cornerbacks they have drafted, seven in total since 2010, all of them had arm lengths over 32 inches. Out of all the defensive backs drafted, only Earl Thomas had less than 32 inch arms at 31 1⁄4 inches. Byron Jones is 6’0, 205 lbs, with an arm length of 32 inches, he falls right in line with what they would want at cornerback under Kris Richard.


Cowboys' lack of speed at WR is hurting Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
Another place the Cowboys might be looking hard is wide receiver, and Patrik Walker from 247 Sports explains why:

Speed kills.

This general rule of physics applies more often than it doesn't, and it's a phrase tossed around the NFL like nobody's business. Football was once a sport predicated more upon the physicality of those playing it, in the days of decades ago when brutality was the name of the game. With the concerns of player safety evolving the rules of the sport to penalize for what was once rewarded, nowadays it's escapability that owns the landscape. The shiftier and more explosive a player is at a skill position, the better.

The Dallas Cowboys are not immune to this reality, and what was once a knock at the door as it relates to the wide receiver position is now a battering ram threatening to knock the proverbial door off of its very hinges. Their disappointing 9-7 finish to the season highlighted the team's need for a speedy, impact wideout to help stretch the field, something they've not had since the late Terry Glenn -- who reportedly ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds coming out of Ohio State.

Will Dez Bryant be a Cowboy in 2018? Our experts give their predictions - Staff, SportsDay
To Dez or not to Dez? That is the question. The SportsDay writing staff offers up their own opinion about whether Bryant will remain a Cowboy and if it will come at a reduced cost. David Moore, Brandon George, and Kate Hairopoulos all weigh in on the subject including this one from Jon Machota.

Jon Machota: I was surprised to see Stephen Jones' comments about Dez Bryant being a distraction on the sidelines at times. Not that many didn't already think that, but that was the first time someone in the Cowboys organization has said it publicly. I've always thought Bryant would be playing for the Cowboys in 2018, but it's interesting to see the direction this is going. The Cowboys moved on from DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray when they still had plenty to contribute. They could choose to do the same with Bryant. Ultimately, I think he will end up taking a pay cut to stay in Dallas. But I also believe this offseason will be the most Bryant has ever seriously thought about playing elsewhere.

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