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Cowboys news: Some mock drafts to whet your appetite, plus Moore and Kitna talk

Plus all the rest of the good stuff.

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2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Yep, mock draft season is in full swing. And while they are often wildly inaccurate (especially this early), they are also fun to read.

2019 NFL mock draft: Here’s 2 rounds for after Super Bowl 53 - Dan Kadar,
First round mocks are kinda disappointing for us, but we can take solace in having Amari Cooper instead of the 27th overall selection. But good news, this mock goes two rounds deep, and has a very plausible pick for Dallas.

58. Dallas Cowboys: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

The Cowboys might not have a first-round pick this year, but Abram has the traits of one. He loves to crack receivers coming over the middle and is aggressive coming up to play the run.

2019 4-round Mock Draft: Cowboys trade up for star safety, firebomb DL - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
This Dallas-only mock goes four deep for the Cowboys, and is loaded with trades. Here is a move up from 58, trading that pick and Dallas’ 2020 second rounder.

No. 40: Deionte Thompson, safety, Alabama

Thompson has the prototypical size for a Kris Richard defense, and has shown the necessary range and athleticism to be a staple as the team’s centerfielder for years to come. Regarded as a prospect for the first half of the first round for much of the season, his stock fell as the year went on, but if he dropped this far Dallas, would be wise to race to the phones and try to obtain his services.

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound redshirt junior has played behind some impressive talent, including Chicago’s Eddie Jackson. The Orange, Tex., native had two interceptions, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles for the runner-ups in the national championship.

His flaw is pursuit angles, but he has a tremendous ability in coverage that can’t be denied.

Dane Brugler’s Mock Draft 3.0: A trade up for Dwayne Haskins in this two-round scenario – Dane Brugler, The Athletic
Want more?

58. Dallas Cowboys – Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State

With David Irving an afterthought and Maliek Collins entering the final year of his deal, defensive tackle is likely to be high on Dallas’ early round wish list.

Highway to Hell? Real Cowboys duty of Kitna: Save Garrett's butt - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
The Cowboys and Kitrna were a bit coy about his role at first, but this digs down to what it really is under the title. The last bit of the article is perhaps the best.

The departed coordinator Scott Linehan and Garrett did not get along at the end. Linehan, as I've reported, tended to both curl up in a protective ball and dig in his heels. It was not a situation ripe for open communication. QB Dak Prescott needs everything Kitna and company can bring, including open-mindedness when it comes to creativity. And so does Garrett, who as we've reported for the last three weeks is likely to be coaching 2019 on the final year of his existing deal.

"They brought me down just to hang out''? No. Jason Garrett brought you down, Jon Kitna, to help keep Jason Garrett from being hung out. You're here to save his butt.

Dallas Cowboys: Will Dak improve under Moore and Kitna? | Clarence Hill, Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Head coach Jason Garrett addressed the way he expects Kellen Moore and Jon Kitna to work with Dak Prescott.

What Kitna also brings is an ability to interact well with the players, a trait that helped him win over the locker room with the Cowboys when during his time as back-up quarterback from 2009-2011.

He has been a high school coach since his retirement and specializes in the technical aspects of quarterback play, especially footwork.

Garrett said he will be great for Prescott but both Moore and Kitna will work him collectively.

“Kellen is going to help him mentally and physically,” Garrett said. “Jon is going to help him mentally and physically. It’s going to be a really good combination.”

Prescott, who admittedly pushed Moore to be the quarterback coach in 2018, is on record backing his new offensive coordinator. He calls him one of those “young phenom guru” coaches.

Kellen Moore's journey: From a kid collecting playbooks to Cowboys OC - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
Here is a little Moore evidence (sorry, couldn't resist) about how the new OC was prepping for his job long before it even became a possibility.

Kellen Moore isn’t sure where the playbooks are now. Maybe a few are still at his parents’ house, tucked away somewhere in a room or attic.

Some people collected baseball cards or video games. Growing up, Moore would search the internet looking for different playbooks.

He had NFL offenses, like the West Coast and the number system the Dallas Cowboys used in their Super Bowl run of the 1990s and continue to use today. He had the college offenses, like the run 'n' shoot and the Air Raid, favored by Mike Leach.

“I don’t know if I ever really bought one,” Moore said. “My dad was a high school coach, so that’s a part of it. I was just trying to learn different things in different offenses. All that stuff. The age that I am, the technology was more available, so you could get online and find playbooks for different teams and whatnot. It was a fun thing.”

Star Evaluation: How Looney Saved The Season - David Helman,
Some measured but certainly deserved praise for how Joe Looney stepped up last season.

Let’s be perfectly honest: when it was announced that Travis Frederick had been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and would be unavailable to start the 2018 season, everyone assumed the worst. Yes, Joe Looney had played well in spots as a backup, but everyone saw the way the Cowboys struggled without Tyron Smith the year before. It was logical to assume they would once again struggle to replace an All-Pro offensive lineman. In two years with the team, Looney had already proven himself as a valuable locker room presence. In his third season, he stepped up as a pretty damn capable starter. Looney wound up starting all 16 games at center, as Frederick was eventually moved to injured reserve. To be fair, he didn’t make anyone forget that the Cowboys employed the best center in the NFL, but he also wasn’t the liability that many thought he would be. Looney handled himself well, and he helped bring along two newcomers in Connor Williams and Xavier Su’a-Filo. In 2017, the Cowboys saw the disastrous results of what can happen if you don’t have good depth behind your starters. Looney’s play helped them avoid that fate in 2018.

5 Under-The-Radar Big Decisions For Dallas - Rob Phillips,
This is a look at some of the decisions not involving DeMarcus Lawrence or Cole Beasley that face the Cowboys. The list starts with one I have very high on the needs list.

Backup Running Back

Darius Jackson is the only backup under contract next year behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott. (Last year’s primary backup Rod Smith and fullback Jamize Olawale have expiring contracts). Elliott is the offense’s indestructible engine – he played nearly 83 percent of the snaps this season – but he played through nagging foot and knee injuries at times. Solidifying backfield depth will be critical as insurance for the team’s best player.

Dallas Cowboys: Film room: Earl Thomas and the art of playmaking – how the safety would improve the Cowboys defense | SportsDay
We are still wondering whether the Cowboys will make a move to sign S Earl Thomas in free agency. Here are some reasons why they should.

The biggest thing that held the 2018 Cowboys defense back was the lack of interceptions created by the secondary, as it finished 2018 with just nine interceptions -- 26th in the NFL.

Xavier Woods is a good (with the potential to be great) deep safety, but he has not yet got to the point in his development where he can consistently create turnover opportunities for the defense.

Thomas, on the other hand, is the epitome of a playmaker as a deep safety. And it's the main reason why he's been the premier deep safety in football since 2013 -- taking the mantel from future Hall-of-Famer Ed Reed. Thomas ranks third in interceptions with 28 since entering the league in 2010.

The main reason why Thomas excels as a playmaker is his next-level ability to read, identify and diagnose what an offense is trying to do. In a world where offenses are doing everything it can to fool a defense -- whether it be by alignment, pre-snap motion, play-action or unique route combinations -- Thomas is the NFL equivalent to Sherlock Holmes.

Will Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty? ✭ Jess Haynie, Inside the Star
There are lots of decisions to make. This article looks at whether Terrance Williams has a future with the team.

Enter 2019, where Williams has two years left on his contract. He is set to count $4.75 million against the salary cap and has $2.5 million left in dead money. Dallas could release him for $2.25 million in cap relief.

That may not sound like much but it has plenty of value. That's about what Dallas needs to pay its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-round picks from this year's draft according to the projected 2019 rookie wage scale; three players for the price of one.

It might be a harder decision if Terrance was still a valuable piece in your WR rotation, but you have to wonder if he'd even have a role next season.

The starting duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup appears locked in for 2019. Allen Hurns is still under contract and, given his major injury in the playoffs, may not be cuttable until after the primary free agency window has passed.

Dallas will also have to make decisions on Cole Beasley and Tavon Austin. One or both could be back; Beasley is still one your top receivers and Austin has both offensive value and can be your return specialist.

The top 101 players from the 2018 NFL season | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus Analysis Team
With the top 25 still to come, the Cowboys already have five players on PFF's list of the top 101 players in the NFL. Joining DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Byron Jones, and Zack Martin is the player many worried would never play a down in the league.


Top 101 appearances: New entry

A torn ACL and MCL in his junior year at Notre Dame pushed him from being a sure-fire first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft to a question mark, but Smith overcame those questions emphatically this year. Among off-ball linebackers with 50 or more pass-rush snaps, his 27.8 win percentage as a pass rusher ranked first, while he was one of six off-ball linebackers with 500 or more coverage snaps to allow one or fewer touchdowns in coverage.

Falcons cut kicker Matt Bryant - Dave Choate,The Falcoholic
Things that make you go "Hmmm . . ."

In news that I was not at all emotionally prepared for, Matt Bryant shared on Twitter that the Falcons have cut him, bringing a legendary career in Atlanta to a close.

Bryant, who will turn 44 in May, has been the team’s kicker since taking over for Jason Elam back in 2009. He leaves Atlanta holding every significant franchise kicking record, having made huge kicks throughout the regular season and in the post-season, and doing it all at an exceptionally high level at all times despite his age.

Should the Cowboys pursue veteran kicker Matt Bryant? - R.J. Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
And our own R.J. is one who is intrigued.

Scouting various kickers would be a relatively new reality for the Cowboys as this is the first full offseason the team is entering without Dan Bailey. Dallas released Bailey when finalizing their 53-man roster last season and rolled with Brett Maher instead. Maher provided some incredible moments, coincidentally including a game-winner at Atlanta, but he certainly also had his struggles.

Maher had an 80.6% field goal percentage during his first season in the NFL while Bryant has been no lower than 87.2% in his last three seasons. If Dallas doesn’t truly feel that Maher is a long-term option then they should consider looking into Bryant as kickers of his caliber don’t show up all the time.

Eagles only goal with Nick Foles is keeping him from New York Giants - Jason Cole, Fansided
I don't know how real this is - but just the thought of such maneuvering by Dallas' division rivals is rather interesting.

Are the Philadelphia Eagles willing to pay quarterback Nick Foles roughly $25 million for one year to keep him from driving north on the Jersey Turnpike?

Keeping Foles from the division-rival New York Giants — assuming the Giants decide to move on from Eli Manning — appears to be the biggest consideration as the Eagles toy with the idea of putting the franchise tag on him. According to two NFL sources, Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is considering that idea after an exchange of moves that could potentially leave Foles as the top free agent quarterback on the market next month.

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