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Cowboys news: Dallas discussed Amari Cooper with Nick Saban, others before making deal for Pro Bowl wideout

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Your Monday morning links.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys reached out to Nick Saban, others before making Amari Cooper trade - Adam Schefter, ESPN
Schefter reported on Sunday morning that the Cowboys inquired about Amari Cooper with Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, among others, before making the deal.

Before trading a first-round draft pick for Amari Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys conducted multiple background checks, and all reports came back consistent on the star wide receiver, sources told ESPN.

The people who knew Cooper spoke glowingly about him, according to sources. The list of people the Cowboys questioned for information about Cooper included Nick Saban, his former head coach at Alabama; Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier, who coached Cooper at Alabama in 2012 and 2013; former Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio; and Cowboys fullback Jamize Olawale, who played with Cooper for three seasons in Oakland.

Each person recommended trading for Cooper, each vouched for his talents and character, and each person expressed consistent thoughts and feelings, according to sources.

Raiders beat writer dishes on new Cowboys WR Amari Cooper, why Ezekiel Elliott can ‘do wonders’ for him - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Epstein sat down with Raiders beat writer Matt Schneidman to find out more about the newest Cowboys receiver.

What was your overall impression of Cooper as a Raider while you covered the team?

Schneidman: Guys love him as a teammate. Dealing with us, he’s very quiet but really respectful. This year he’s started to speak out more that “Yeah, I was open on that play.” A couple weeks ago when they got blown out by the Chargers, he told us after that he told Gruden and Carr on the sideline after a certain play, “Hey, I was open.” So there might have been a little more frustration.

Last year he had a concussion and some nagging injuries. He set a career high for touchdown catches in a season but receiving yards and explosiveness were way down.

This season, very inconsistent. I think that’s why the Raiders were comfortable trading him, especially because he has a long-term extension coming up.

Ex-NFL scout: Amari Cooper capable of making a difference for Cowboys in division that’s up for grabs - SportsDay
The Mothership’s Bryan Broaddus gives his take on Cooper:

Broaddus: “I have no problem with the front office trying to make something happen. And I think as a fan base you ought to appreciate them not quitting here. It appears some teams might be quitting, the Giants might be quitting with what they’re trying to do. The price is steep for what you have to do. But if you’re a fan of this football team and you’re looking at it, and I know the front office is looking at it this way, this division is still up for grabs. I heard you guys with Mike talking about it, that this team was not capable of making any type of a run. I will disagree on this point, that their defense is good enough to get them into a run. Now the litmus test will be coming up soon. You’ve got Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New Orleans. If you find a way to play quality defense like they have the first seven weeks of the season, then you have an opportunity. The biggest problem is the offense. It’s one of those things that if I’m in that locker room and I’m a defensive player, I’m looking at Jerry giving up a first-round pick to get an offensive player to help me get some more points. If we continue to hold teams to 17 points, and we find a way to get 20, 24, 28 points, now you’re in a situation where you’re winning football games.”

Will McClay Breaks Down Cowboys Vision for New WR Amari Cooper - Sean Martin, Inside The Star
Will McClay joined Jason Garrett’s show to discuss the team’s vision for Amari Cooper. Definitely worth the watch:

Next, McClay explains the importance of Cooper making a vertical play out of a heavy 22 personnel play by his Raiders. Three of Prescott’s eight passing touchdowns this season have come on play action throws such as this, as the Cowboys could feature much more deception in their running game to free up Cooper.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott remains the Cowboys best play maker on offense. When McClay says that having a receiver who can get deep helps an offense, it should be music to Elliott’s ears as he looks to keep pace with the league’s best rushers.

With that, the Cowboys are hoping to remain in contention in the NFC East, needing to add Cooper to a receiver corps featuring Cole Beasley and rookie Michael Gallup as the only other real contributors. Cooper’s presence makes the Cowboys passing game formidable enough to evaluate Prescott as a passer at the very least.

Consistent targets important for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys must feed him - Dave Halprin, BTB
Dave notes that the trade for Cooper is cool and all, but it won’t matter if he doesn’t get the necessary targets.

Cooper has an odd plot of targets this year in the Oakland offense. In five games (throwing out the Seattle game when he was hurt) his targets are three, ten, five, twelve, and one. In the games where he had double-digit targets, he had 116 yards and 128 yards. In the last six games of 2017 in Oakland, he never had double-digit targets and generally looked like he was used less and less.

If the Cowboys are going to feed Cooper, the targets will have to come from somewhere. Where will Cooper’s targets come from? Cole Beasley leads Dallas with 43 targets on the year, Ezekiel Elliott is second with 36. Third is Allen Hurns with 28. That’s where most of those targets should come from. Deonte Thompson also has 18. Between those two you have 46 targets, the majority of those should now end up with Cooper.

One thing Cooper has fixed, according to the ESPN article linked above, is his drops. So far in 2018 he only has one. The Cowboys obviously didn’t trade for Cooper to not use him, but they may do well to feed him.

Dallas Cowboys WRs: Scrap the committee, anoint the trinity - Reid Hanson, SportDFW
Hanson writes that the Cowboys need to focus on its top-3 wide receivers for the remainder of the season.

With Cooper and Gallup on the outside and Beasley inside, the Dallas Cowboys have one of the bester receiving corps in the NFL. For that reason there is virtually no reason to remove them from the field. Sure, Dallas will need to use 12 personnel from time to time, but there’s no reason to remove one of these three for another WR. The falloff in skill is too much.

The trinity of 19, 11, and 13 (remember when those were QB numbers?) must be involved as much as possible this season. With the Dallas Cowboys offense firmly stuck in the mud, they are our best hope of getting pulled out.

The Dallas Cowboys basically admitted they were wrong with their “committee approach” when they traded for Amari Cooper earlier this week. Now it’s time to takeit to the next level and anoint the trinity of Cooper, Beasley, and Gallup, running the entire passing game through Dallas’ most talented receivers. The committee is dead. Long live the trinity.

3 prospects the Cowboys could target in Round 2 of the 2019 NFL draft, including a replacement for Jason Witten - John Owning, SportsDay’
No, the Cowboys do not have a first-round pick at the moment, but Owning gives three early prospects that are worth keeping an eye on for the second night of the draft.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Iowa has an embarrassment of riches at the position with Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson each receiving top-50 draft hype through the first half of the season. Fant will likely be gone when the Cowboys draft in Round 2, but Hockenson should still be available -- and he would be a fantastic addition.

Listed at 6-5, 243, Hockenson has a build that allows him to be nimble enough to run good routes and strong enough to hold up as a blocker.

After posting 24 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games as a redshirt freshman last season, Hockenson has already surpassed those totals in 2018 with 25 catches for 424 and three touchdowns entering Saturday.

The Cowboys tend to rely heavily on their tight ends in the running game, moving them all over the formation to make a variety of arc, down and reach blocks. This wouldn’t be anything new for Hockenson, as Iowa similarly values its tight ends in the running game.

Dallas Cowboys: 7-Round Mock Draft, post-Amari Cooper trade - Randy Gurzi, NFL Spin Zone
Gurzi gives a different tight end to be on the lookout for in round two.

Round 2: Irv Smith Jr., Tight End, Alabama

A second round pick on a tight end? Yes, I know such a selection is going to send a roar of exasperation across Cowboys Nation, but this isn’t like the times they’ve taken a player at this position in the second. Now, they really need one.

Irv Smith, Jr. from Alabama looks more like a Fasano-Bennett kind of selection here — except Smith will actually play. Dallas currently has Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, and Dalton Schultz on the roster. None are complete players, but Smith can be.

The son of a former NFL tight end, Smith has improved dramatically as a receiver and plays for a team in Alabama that loves to run the ball — which means Dallas asking him to block should be a non-issue. Smith will be an upgrade and their current stable can fight for backup spots, which is where they’re all better suited for.