The Cowboys had nine undrafted free agents on their roster starting at least one game in 2017. La'el Collins (16 starts), Jeff Heath (15), David Irving (8), Cole Beasley (4), Keith Smith (3), Benson Mayowa (2), Byron Bell (2), Richard Ash (2), and Rod Smith (1) all went undrafted and took a sometimes circuitous route to the NFL. Add special teamers Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, and L.P. Ladouceur, along with promising recent UDFAs like Cooper Rush, Lewis Neal, and Blake Jarwin, and you begin to understand the importance undrafted free agents (UDFAs) have for the Cowboys, who have been quite successful in bringing in UDFAs over the years.
And one of the reasons for the Cowboys’ success with UDFAs is that Chris Hall, director of college scouting for the Cowboys and the guy with the long hair on the bottom right of the war room camera over the last three days, doesn’t allow scouts to “come off grade”. If they have a grade on a guy before the draft, they have to stick with it after the draft. Which means that after the draft, they try and sign every guy still left on their draft board, as they feel those players effectively amount to extra draft picks.
And that’s why we also make a point of tracking these UDFA signings. Full disclaimer here before you go any further: tracking and confirming actual signings of undrafted free agents can be tricky. The sources of these transactions come from all over, Twitter included, and sometimes they are not 100% reliable. Also, all reported deals are agreements, and players could back out of deals over next few days.
One of the reasons these signings happen so fast is that a lot of teams already have deals wokred out in advance with prospective UDFAs, as Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst explains.
Have you ever wondered how teams sign so many UDFAs almost the minute the draft has ended?
It’s simple -- the deals were worked out earlier this week and many of them are done.
I spoke with more than a dozen agents through Wednesday of last week, and most told me they had deals in the works for players they represent that may end up undrafted.
In some instances agents use the leverage of the deals in hand to get even more for their players. In other instances they use the deals to get the player drafted, telling the team on the other side of the phone, “If you want him you’re going to have to draft him.”
So, with that in mind, below is a tracker of players who have been reported to have signed with the Dallas Cowboys as undrafted free agents, or who have received an invitation for a tryout for the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp. At the bottom of the post, you'll find a short profile of each player when time permits - all added as the names become available, so refresh this page often.
|202||David Wells*||TE||San Diego State||6-5||256|
|329||Kameron Kelly||S||San Diego State||6-2||204|
|330||Joel Lanning||LB||Iowa State||6-1||232|
|354||DeQuinton Osborne||DT||Oklahoma State||6-0||300|
|357||Donovan Olumba||CB||Portland State||6-2||192|
|417||Charvarius Ward||CB||Middle Tennessee St.||6-1||198|
|430||Jake Campos||OL||Iowa State||6-7||300|
|--||Marchie Murdock||WR||Iowa State||6-0||201|
|--||Malik Earl*||WR||Missouri State||6-2||216|
|--||Bryce Johnson||OL||St. Cloud State||6-6||321|
’Rank’ is per the NFLDraftScout big board; (*) denotes players who had a pre-draft visit or workout with the Cowboys.
This is a big one.... West Georgia T Desmond Harrison will sign with the #Browns per source— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 28, 2018
Texas DT Poona Ford signs an UDFA with the Seattle Seahawks. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/Z5xn1Ix0NQ— Justin Wells (@justinwells2424) April 28, 2018
David Wells TE - NFL.com
Wells is leaned on to do some of the heavy lifting as a run-blocking specialist in the Aztecs offense, but his play strength needs to match his size on a more consistent basis. Wells isn’t going to threaten defenses very often in the passing game so he will need to become more physical as a run blocker if he wants to find a roster spot and NFL playing time.
Kameron Kelly, S - Bleacher Report (Miller)
With the build of a safety (6’2”, 200 lbs) and experience at every spot in the secondary, Kameron Kelly has the versatility to be a matchup player in NFL secondaries. Teams running the Seattle-style defense (Jacksonville, Atlanta, San Francisco) should be all over Kelly given his ability to play outside cornerback at 6’2” and with the length to jam up receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Joel Lanning, LB, Iowa State - Des Moines Register
Background: Lanning spent his first four seasons as a quarterback at Iowa State but became one of the most versatile players in all of college football for his final season. The Cyclones moved him to middle linebacker where he earned a starting spot and thrived. Lanning also played special teams and quite a bit at quarterback. He finished the season playing 1,001 snaps: 822 on defense, 128 on special teams and 51 on offense. He was a revelation in his lone season at linebacker, ranking 37th nationally in tackles per game (8.8). Lanning also ranked second on the team in sacks (6.0), third in tackles for loss (11.0), third in rushing (135) and fourth in passing (47). He also recovered a fumble and tallied an interception.
What Kiper said: “Lanning’s interesting because ... quarterback turned linebacker, that doesn’t happen very often. You talk about what (Iowa State coach) Matt Campbell had to say about him, he was revered out there in Ames. The kid gives you everything he has, blood, sweat — everything, he lays it all on the line. And to me, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he got drafted late. He’s the kind of kid that, with his overall versatility and love for the game and toughness, yeah, he can be another guy that’s going to help you on special teams. (He has) versatility (so) if you get injured at quarterback, you could always do that in a pinch. So, yeah, I think late rounds for Lanning and it’s a great story.”
DeQuinton Osborne, DT, Oklahoma State - CBSSports
Draft Prospect Outlook:
Wide, run-stuffer with limited explosion to get up the field. Will eat double teams and anchor. Hand-use is apparent against the run.
Osborne is closer to 5-foot-11, but he is every bit 310 pounds and extremely strong. The numbers alone speak highly of Osborne. He had 44 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and two quarterback hurries. He also recovered a fumble. On top of that he was constantly pushing plays to fellow defenders to make because his gap was congested and closed for business.
Donovan Olumba, CB, Portland State - DraftAnalyst
Pos: Nice-sized defensive back who can line up at cornerback or safety. Sized well, competitive and wins out in battles. Jams receivers at the line to slow their release, mixes it up throughout the route and physically beats down opponents to defend the throw. Stays with assignments, displays a solid burst out of his plant and wraps up tackling. Does a good job to reading and diagnosing.
Neg: Does not have great quickness. Slow to transition off the line and lacks quick footwork. Must improve his backpedal and prefers to side shuffle downfield.
Analysis: Olumba was not rated by scouts coming into the season but now grades as a legitimate free agent for the next level. He comes with terrific size but has speed limitations that make a move inside, possibly to strong safety, a likelihood.
Charvarius Ward, CB, Middle Tennessee State - Draftwire
If you’re looking for a sleeper prospect who is still hovering under the national radar, Ward is your man. A talented cover man with ideal size and length, Ward has all the physical tools to develop into a starter at the next level.
A junior-college transfer who broke up five passes and picked off two more in his first season with the Blue Raiders, Ward followed that up with an impressive senior campaign in 2017, breaking up a team-high 14 passes. This year’s deep corner class could make Ward a valuable bargain in the later rounds.
James Hearns, DE, Louisville - Louisville Courier Journal
Hearns, 24, is a veteran at the college level. He played in five different seasons at Louisville, earning a fifth year in 2017 after two appearances in each of his first two seasons. He was a versatile defender, playing almost every position in the front seven, but developed best as a pass rusher, often coming in for third-down situations as a fifth-year senior.
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Hearns finished his career with 28 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, nine forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
At the NFL scouting combine, tested as a linebacker, Hearns ran a 4.89 40-yard dash with 22 reps on the bench press. He measured 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds.
Jake Campos, OL, Iowa State - NFLDraftScout
Campos was ISU’s anchor on the offensive line that helped pave way for a 1,000-yard rusher and guided an offense that averaged 29.9 points per game, the second-best season average in school history. Campos started all 12 games at tackle and earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.
Jashon Robertson, OL, Tennessee - NDTScouting
He walked onto campus as a DT but 3 days later he was moved to guard and has been starting ever since. His defensive background gives him an added intelligence factor as well as short area athleticism. He has had some injury history but has toughed it out to start 35 games.
WR Marchie Murdock - Draft Analyst
Pos: Former Illinois receiver who comes off a career campaign. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage, immediately gets to top speed and works his hands to separate from defenders. Comes back to the ball out of breaks and uses his frame to shield away defenders. Consistent hands catcher who makes receptions away from his frame. Tracks the pass in the air, plays with terrific awareness and works to pick up yardage after the catch.
Neg: Lacks next-level size and speed. Has a very slim body of work.
Analysis: After a nondescript career at Illinois, Murdock took his game to another level at Iowa State last season. He does not possess great computer numbers but has enough pass-catching skill to get consideration as a fifth wideout on a roster.
Dalton Sturm, QB, UTSA - ChiefsWire
UTSA has been one of the more entertaining teams to watch this season because they have a lot of talent on both sides of the football. The guy who has made the offense incredibly fun for me to watch is Sturm.
A few of my buddies have nicknamed this kid the magician because he has a penchant for coming up with plays when they just don’t seem like they’re possible.
Another thing about Sturm that is nice is that he doesn’t turn the ball over often. He has only three interceptions to 15 touchdowns thus far in his senior season and a grand total of 49 touchdowns to 16 interceptions throughout his whole college career.
Malik Earl, WR, Missouri State - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
Earl, a wide receiver, has quietly captured the attention of a lot of teams, mainly because his potential is through the roof and he plays every snap like it’s his last. Three teams to look out for with Earl: the Packers, Seahawks and Dolphins.
Regarding the Packers, Earl is similar to Davante Adams.
”I model my game after him,” Earl told me. “That’s the greatest compliment you could give me.”
Jordan Chunn, RB - NFL.com
Chunn is a big back with the heavy pads to operate with power, but he’s got nimble feet for a big man and isn’t just a one-trick pony. Chunn is versatile enough to handle short-yardage carries and third-down, blitz-protection duties. Chunn has the ability to compete for a backup running back spot and may be a competent enough blocker to transition into a fullback role if need be.
Bryce Johnson, OL, St. Cloud State - St. Cloud Times
When Johnson arrived in the fall of 2013, he weighed about 270 pounds and the coaching staff moved him to guard as he sat out a redshirt season. He stayed at guard the next two seasons.
”I liked it quite a bit, but I was a lot lighter then,” he said. “I spent a lot of time working on conditioning and in weight rooms.”
That work helped him fill out his frame. Last fall, he was moved to tackle, a position he played at Beaver Dam High School in Wisconsin.
”I’m liking it a lot better this fall and I’m feeling a lot better with being at tackle again,” Johnson said.
Kyle Quiero, S, Northwestern - DraftAnalyst
Pos: Underrated safety prospect with excellent size. Effectively reads and diagnoses the action, keeps the play in front of him and willingly throws his pads into the pile. Works well with cornerbacks to bracket receivers over the middle of the field, shows good hands for the interception and makes a nice amount of plays on the ball. Quickly moves up the field to defend screen passes and the run but also moves laterally with speed.
Neg: Inefficient and doesn’t always take proper angles to the action. Struggles making plays with his back to the ball.
Analysis: Queiro is a strong safety prospect with a special-teams mentality. Best facing the action, he has the size, skill and ability to line up in a zone scheme.
Ed Shockley, LB, Villanova - The Villanovan
Shockley started for the Wildcats at linebacker each of the past two seasons, leading the team in tackles in 2016 and 2017. However, despite his outstanding statistical production, Shockley has not garnered significant NFL Draft interest. Much of this has to do with size. Shockley is listed at 5 feet 11 inches tall and 235 pounds, undersized for the linebacker position.
Of course, there are ways to overcome this perceived size deficiency. In spite of his lack of linebacker stature Shockley’s athleticism could make him a perfect fit as a linebacker-safety hybrid that is quickly becoming more common in the NFL. Despite this possibility, Shockley should be, at best, a developmental pick in the 6th or 7th round. If he is not called on Draft day, expect to see him making an NFL training camp this summer.
Tyree Robinson, FS, Oregon - ChiefsWire
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds Robinson has that size that the new-age NFL is moving towards in its defensive backs. That said teams will want him to add some more good weight to his frame.
Robinson is sound in his technique and has many plays where he jumps off the field. When he plays deep safety he is quick to the sideline and just as quick to come up and make a tackle in the open field. Occasionally he is prone to taking a bad angle and he has been ejected before under the new NCAA targeting rules. That said this is a player who has taken up a leadership role in the secondary at Oregon in senior season.
Austin Larkin, DE, Purdue - Detroit News
Defensive end Austin Larkin is a three-star from the City College of San Francisco. The 6-3, 250 Larkin is the nephew of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and was a walk-on at Notre Dame in 2014 before transferring [to Purdue].
Here’s the sequence in which the names came in while we were live tracking the signings on Saturday and Sunday. These are all reported signings or agreements, but as noted above, they could change.
- 7:19 PM ET - Marchie Murdock, WR, Iowa State
- 7:19 PM ET - Dalton Sturm, QB, UTSA
- 7:21 PM ET - Malik Earl, WR, Missouri State
- 7:21 PM ET - David Wells, TE, San Diego State
- 7:23 PM ET - Jake Campos, OL, Iowa State
- 7:36 PM ET - Jordan Chunn, RB, Troy
- 7:50 PM ET - Bryce Johnson, OL, St. Cloud State
- 7:50 PM ET - Donovan Olumba, CB, Portland State
- 7:57 PM ET - Kameron Kelly, S, SDSU
- 7:57 PM ET - Joel Lanning, LB, Iowa State
- 8:10 PM ET - Kyle Queiro, S/CB, Northwestern
- 8:11 PM ET - Jashon Robertson, OL, Tennessee
- 8:11 PM ET - Charvarius Ward, CB, Middle Tennessee State
- 8:16 PM ET - DeQuinton Osborne, DT, Oklahoma State
- 9:21 PM ET - Ed Shockley, LB, Villanova
- Sunday: Tyree Robinson, FS, Oregon
- Sunday: Austin Larkin, DE, Purdue
- Sunday: James Hearns, DE, Louisville
- Monday: Dustin Stanton, G, Oregon State (an UDFA from last year’s draft that went to training camp with the Bengals)