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Cowboys news: Taco Charlton needs to make his mark in his sophomore year

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And some other Cowboys stuff.

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Examining Taco Charlton’s rookie season – Bob Sturm, The Athletic (Behind pay wall)
The Sturminator looks at last year's first-round pick and saw some things he liked and some things he didn't.

If I were to give him a letter grade for his rookie season, it would be a possibly-generous “C-“, but with a qualifier. He was better in December than he was in November. Better in November than in October. And better in October than September. In other words, we saw significant improvement as the season went along. And now, we believe the sophomore year should show us substantial improvement. The optimal scenario: If David Irving, Tyrone Crawford, or Demarcus Lawrence are playing their final year in Dallas, Taco is ready to play 700-800 snaps in 2019 as a key starter.

That may not be what you want to hear about your 2017 first-round pick. He flashed. The team will need much more in 2018. But, hopefully, there is a little more context to what the public says about him. I think it is way too early to write this guy off. If Bill Walsh was right – and he generally was – Taco has a chance to develop into something pretty nice in the coming months.

Meet the Cowboys rookie who could be Dallas' next undrafted gem - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
Kam Kelly was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Cowboys after this year's draft. Gosselin speculates he could be the latest in a long line of undrafted Cowboys' great.

Kelly was projected as a mid-round draft pick and was invited to the NFL scouting combine. But when he ran a 4.66 in his 40-yard dash at Indianapolis, his draft stock cooled. He improved his time to 4.55 at his pro day on campus, but by then, the NFL had collectively made up its mind that Kelly lacked the speed to play corner on Sundays.

"Richard Sherman ran a 4.62," Kelly said the other day after his first practice with the Cowboys.

Sherman was an All-Pac 12 corner at Stanford whose speed slid him into the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Sherman has since played in four Pro Bowls, led the NFL in interceptions and helped the Seattle Seahawks win a Super Bowl.

Kam Kelly’s Traits Are Remarkably Similar To A Certain All-Pro Cornerback - Kurt Daniels, Dallas Cowboys
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Kelly has caught the eye of his new coach.

“I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something.”

That’s a quote from Kelly himself and the “he” in this instance is the Cowboys’ new passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard.

While Kelly had to suffer through the disappointment of not being drafted, the calls started coming in almost immediately from teams wanting to sign him as a rookie free agent. The Cowboys, who were able to work out Kelly during the team’s Dallas Day, were a logical choice. And not just because he’d be returning to North Texas and home.

“Once I got the call (from Dallas), I knew it was a great spot for me,” said Kelly. “I know they have a history of giving undrafted free agents a fair shot.”

And’s he’s certainly off to a good start. Kelly made a quick impression during the rookie minicamp, being one of two players whom Broaddus noted as standouts.

Michael Gallup Signs Rookie Deal; Cowboys’ Entire Draft Class Now Under Contract - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Helman has the details on the Cowboys getting their entire draft class signed on the dotted line.

Michael Gallup has signed his rookie contract, meaning the Cowboys’ entire 2018 draft class has officially signed on.

Gallup, who the Cowboys selected in the third round at No. 81 overall, signed a four-year deal estimated at roughly $3.3 million. The two-year standout at Colorado State tallied 176 total catches for 2,690 yards and 21 touchdowns during his college career. During his senior season he was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football’s top receiver.

The Cowboys’ other eight draft picks signed their contract last week ahead of rookie minicamp, as the NFL’s current CBA has made rookie negotiations a bit of a foregone conclusion.

What Cowboys' cap space looks like now that all deals for draft picks have been finalized - David Moore, SportsDay
With Gallup in the fold, Moore explains what the Cowboys' cap looks like.

Gallup, the last member of the Cowboys class of 2018 to sign, agreed to a four-year deal worth slightly more than $3.3 million on Monday, a source said. This means the club has all of its picks signed five-and-a-half weeks earlier than last season and two months earlier than it did in '16.

Gallup's signing leaves the Cowboys with just under $9 million in salary cap space. The club will add another $3 million to that total in less than two weeks since it designated cornerback Orlando Scandrick as a post June 1 cut.

How a Boise steak helped Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys bond - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys- ESPN
Archer tells the story of how new linebackers coach Ben Bloom made a trip to Boise, Idaho to workout the Cowboys' eventual first-round draft pick.

The Cowboys had targeted Vander Esch early in the draft process as a possible selection with the 19th pick overall.

The workout went a long way toward solidifying that evaluation, as did a pre-draft visit to The Star to meet the rest of the coaches as well as owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

“We ate a good dinner, had a good conversation, and the next morning he worked me out, put me through some linebacker drills,” Vander Esch said. “Obviously, at that time, we were building our relationship pretty early already.”

They kept in touch during the draft process, with Bloom quizzing him on different parts of the Cowboys’ defense.

“It wasn’t special treatment,” Bloom said. “Every player that we work with in the pre-draft process, you teach him a part of your defense, ask him to give the information back to you. So you teach him like you’re going to coach him as if he’s your own player and see how he can retain information, and you evaluate him based on that. He wasn’t the only one that got that. We just happened to draft him.”

Rookie Chris Covington is who you'd want on your side in a fight, coach says — but there's a twist - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Indiana coach Tom Allen answered questions about Covington, including this one:

Q: Tell us one of your favorite off-the-field Chris stories.

Allen: He has a little boy, Kyng, and I'll never forget we were on the road playing up near his hometown of Chicago and he brought his little son to the hotel with him, and we got a chance to see him and spend time with him. The little fella has got big old long fingers like his dad.

Chris is a tough dude. If you were gonna get in a fight and had to pick one player on your side, you'd pick Chris. He's a tough old sucker now. But then when he's got his little boy, he's a big softie and just melts. All the toughness goes away. There was so much pride that, "Hey, this is my little guy." His fingers and even his toes show Kyng is going to be tall. You can tell. He's got big old hands for a baby.

Several Cowboys greats receive thanks from Peter King in his final MMQB column - Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In his final column for Sports Illustrated's 'The Monday Morning Quarterback', longtime NFL writer Peter King thanked several Cowboys greats including Jimmy Johnson, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin. But the most interesting take may be this one about Jason Garrett:

Long Drives and the Running Game - Ben Baldwin, Football Outsiders
Guest Ben Baldwin crunched the numbers to see if running the ball more often correlates with long drives and "wearing down defenses" is truth or myth. He uses lots of charts to come to his conclusions.

To review, here are our three main findings:

1) It is not the case that long drives disproportionately have greater rush/pass ratios.

2) Rush attempts that come in situations where running the ball is better than passing the ball in terms of extending drives are extremely rare.

3) There is not strong carryover between rushing success in short-yardage situations and rushing success in other situations.

Justifying an investment in the run game by saying it will help extend drives is misguided. If you want to get first downs, throw the ball (unless it's a short-yardage situation).

Analyzing the Cowboys' receivers - will they be better in 2018? - VAFan, FanPost
VAFan continues his series of off-season FanPosts, this time looking the Cowboys' receiving crew.

But the key to it all may be the offensive line and the threat Ezekiel Elliott poses to defenses. Once the pass protection evaporated last year, the passing game went with it. Keep Dak protected, give him run-pass options, keep defenses guessing, and the offense might hit a high gear again.

Through all of this I haven't really said anything about Dak Prescott. Many blame him for the passing game woes, saying that his accuracy was off last year. My take is that Dak didn't change as much as the players around him. For example, was Cole Beasley open like he was in 2016 and Dak just missed him? I don't think that's true at all. Was Dez Bryant just as open in 2017, and did he catch all of the balls that Dak put on his hands? Was Terrance Williams open as much as he was in 2016? I don't think so. Did the offensive line give him as much protection? Definitely not. Was Zeke always there to threaten defenses? No. That's not to say that Dak was blameless. But it seems like other factors played a bigger role.