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Cowboys news: “The Catch” and the combine... and the Cowboys connection

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Dwight Clark in Air During Game

NFL Scouting Combine: 5 Fast Facts - Aaron Tallent, Athlon Sports

What should you know about the combine? Athlon Sports provides five facts, including how a former Cowboys GM proposed an idea that changed things forever.

1. Teams evaluated talent individually before the Combine

The first Combine was not held until 1982 and before then, teams scheduled time with players individually to evaluate them. For example, San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh was at Clemson in 1979 scouting quarterback Steve Fuller and asked his roommate, Dwight Clark, to catch passes. Walsh was impressed with the receiver’s abilities and took him in the 10th round of that year’s draft. If that chance encounter does not happen, “The Catch” does not take place and Clark’s jersey number certainly isn’t retired by the 49ers. Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm proposed eliminating chance and going for efficiency with an NFL Combine and it has been a pre-draft staple for nearly 40 years.

If only the combine would’ve started a few years earlier.

Beyond evaluating draft prospects, Mike McCarthy enters first Cowboys scouting combine with much to accomplish - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys personnel department have all gotten together, but now it’s time to hit the road with their new head coach leading the way.

McCarthy attended 13 combines as Packers coach. This marks his first with Dallas.

The event provides McCarthy, assistant coaches and scouts an opportunity to build on their prep work and capitalize on weeklong access to players. Teams are permitted 45 18-minute private interviews, down from the usual 60 15-minute interviews. This exposure and medical examinations widely are considered the most valuable player-evaluation elements of the combine for teams. The draft class, of course, is an important part of the combine.

Draft Show Recap: Potential Combine Risers? - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys

Keeping up with the Draft Show is a great way to stay informed, and David Helman outlines a time-based recap of some topics you might be interested in, including what to expect from this week’s combine.

Here are some quick highlights:

(2:30) – The first segment of the show focused on the overall theme of the NFL Combine. From the changes in the schedule to the different types of drills, the guys went through a cheat sheet of what can you expect. That included a cheat sheet (15:30) of all the different drills and why they do (or don’t) matter.

2020 NFL Draft: Daniel Jeremiah identifies team fits for prospects - Chase Goodbread, NFL

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah answers questions before the combine, as well as offering up which prospects fit best with each team. Who does he choose for Dallas?

Dallas Cowboys

Alabama S Xavier McKinney is the top safety in the draft and would be a strong addition to the Cowboys with the No. 17 selection. “He’s a great communicator,” Jeremiah said. “... He’s one of the draft’s safest players and would be an unbelievably good fit in Dallas.”

In subsequent rounds, watch for Dallas to address the receiver position, particularly if the Cowboys can’t hang onto free agent WR Amari Cooper. Dallas values run-after-catch ability in wide receivers, something either Florida’s Van Jefferson or Ohio State’s K.J. Hill could provide. “(Jefferson’s) a really polished route runner with strong hands,” Jeremiah said.

NFL mock draft 2020: Cowboys, Patriots add defense in pre-combine look - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today

USA Today has their own pre-combine mock, with the Cowboys also selecting an Alabama defensive back, only a different guy this time.

17. Cowboys — Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama:

Byron Jones is poised to command a sum the Cowboys might find too immense to match should he reach free agency, an increasingly likely outcome as Dallas remains in a stalemate with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. A fitting replacement might await in Diggs, another big corner with head-turning athleticism.

Upcoming Important 2020 Offseason Dates for the Dallas Cowboys - Brian Martin, Inside the Star

Make sure you mark your calendar with these important dates, including a couple things to finish off the month.

February 25: First day for teams to designate franchise or transition players Will the Dallas Cowboys use the franchise or transition tag on Dak Prescott? Amari Cooper? Byron Jones?

March 10: Deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players (prior to 3 PM Central) Last chance to use the franchise or transition tag for the Dallas Cowboys.

Predicting the Fates of Top Franchise-Tag Candidates in 2020 NFL Free Agency - Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report

To tag or not to tag? That is the question. Bleacher Report takes a shot a predicting the outcome of some of this year’s top franchise-tag candidates, including you know who...

QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott had been “disappointed” with the slow progress of negotiations, but the Cowboys seem eager to strike a new deal in the near future. The team’s urgency with the fourth-year quarterback’s contract makes sense with decisions for Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Byron Jones, Maliek Collins and Jason Witten still on the table for the offseason.

The Cowboys will likely make Prescott the highest-paid player in the next week or two, avoiding the franchise tag and a messy offseason that could lead to a lengthy holdout.

Verdict: Prescott signs four-year deal with the Cowboys

Amari Cooper to be a free agent 2020: Top landing spots, projected contract, latest updates, rumors and more - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Speaking of predicting, Patrik Walker provides his best guess as well as another team who may pounce if the Cowboys end up passing.

Top landing spots for Cooper

If the Cowboys can’t keep the reins on Cooper, they can expect the rival Philadelphia Eagles to lead the pack in trying to chase him down. The Eagles are reportedly considering moving on from Alshon Jeffery following a season marred with injury and a rumored rift with Carson Wentz, and Nelson Agholor is an unrestricted free agent not expected to be re-signed. Add to this the fact DeSean Jackson himself is aging and returning from injury, and you can rapidly see how much adding Cooper would immediately impact the Eagles receiving corps.

So, what will it cost the Cowboys to keep him?

His ceiling is why he can still command top dollar, but the Cowboys and any other suitors do have an argument for him reducing his ask, whether it’s at the projected market value or not. A longterm deal will inevitably make him a top-5 highest-paid receiver in the NFL, and you can expect his average annual salary to land closer to Michael Thomas’ second-best $19.25 million than Mike Evans’ fifth-best $16.5 million.

Projection: Five years, $95 million ($19 million AAS), $60 million guaranteed

The Most Intriguing NFL Free Agents on the Market This Offseason - Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report

While there are bigger-named free agents the Cowboys have to worry about, one other guy should have the interest of many.

By the end of his third NFL season, Robert Quinn looked like one of the best young edge-rushers in the NFL. He exploded for 50 solo tackles and 19 sacks. But after racking up 10.5 sacks the following season, the wheels came off.

From 2015 to 2018, Quinn missed 16 games and failed to hit even nine sacks in a year. He moved from the Rams to the Miami Dolphins, and then on to the Dallas Cowboys in 2019.

Last year, however, Quinn experienced a renaissance of sorts. He outplayed DeMarcus Lawrence with the Cowboys, racking up 11.5 sacks.

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