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Cowboys news: Dallas’ draft strategy in recent years has helped to keep them quite competitive

The latest news and notes surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 32-18 during a NFL Pre-Season football game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Cowboys free agency 2023: Dallas re-signs DT Johnathan Hankins to a one-year deal - Brandon Loree, Blogging The Boys

Johnathan Hankins is officially coming back.

The final piece of the free agency puzzle has been placed.

Dallas’ front office somehow found a way to address many of the concerns going into the offseason. Who will be the next playmaker on offense? Who will start opposite Trevon Diggs? Who will fill in for Connor McGovern? Who will be the backup quarterback?

Let’s just bring in Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, Chuma Edoga and retain the real red rifle, Cooper Rush.

The last question was, who would replace the production of Johnathan Hankins as the big-bodied defensive tackle? Well, there’s no need to look for anyone other than Hankins himself.

It took a while, but on Wednesday, Dallas and Hankins agreed to a one-year contract worth about $1.5 million.

Cowboys have flexibility to focus on ‘needs’ over ‘must-haves’ in draft - Todd Archer, ESPN

Sticking to their draft board is a key for the franchise’s success.

When it comes to preparing for the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys did it again.

Although the free agency period isn’t over, the Cowboys used the signing period — plus two key trades — to shore up their roster so they can go into the draft without any “must-have” roster issues.

By re-signing Tony Pollard, Donovan Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch, Cooper Rush and Dante Fowler Jr., the Cowboys are covered at running back, safety, linebacker, backup quarterback and defensive end, respectively. By trading for Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, they are covered at cornerback and wide receiver as well.

“You try and fill the holes,” vice president of player personnel Will McClay said from the scouting combine before free agency began. “That’s the idea of it, to try to be pure when you go into the draft.”

Without some of the aforementioned moves for high-quality players, the Cowboys might have been forced to go in a certain direction during the draft, which can lead to inflating certain players at those positions on their draft boards.

“Whatever it is, you don’t want to be reaching too far for something because then that’s what makes you miss a good player,” McClay said. “Recently in draft history, we might’ve needed ‘this,’ but there’s a player that’s maybe not a ‘must’ but is a far better player than the next player at a position of need.”

Jersey numbers announced for new Cowboys players - Shane Taylor, Inside The Star

A familiar number to Cowboys fans since 2016, will now be worn by one of the newest members to the roster.

The Dallas Cowboys have assigned jersey numbers to four of their newest acquisitions, some of which we have seen recently on former players.

Although Jerry Jones recently told the world they haven’t ruled out a possible Ezekiel Elliott return, he would need a new number if we were to see him back.

Stephon Gilmore

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore will take No. 21 to the other side of the ball. A number Zeke held for seven seasons as the starting running back.

We have seen that the Jones family doesn’t like to retire jersey numbers. No. 21 was also worn by one the greatest ever to play this game, Deion Sanders, and he was holding down the defense in the mid-to-late 90s.

Brandin Cooks

As for the offensive side of the ball, Brandin Cooks will take No. 3. The jersey worn by cornerback Anthony Brown, a free agent this year.

Thus, if re-signed, another player must find a new number. Brown wore No. 30 before making the switch last season.

Aden Durde: Dallas Cowboys coach talks Micah Parsons, Sam Williams, four-man pressures and defensive coordinator speculation - Cameron Hogwood, Sky Sports

Dallas’ defensive line coach has helped shape this unit into arguably one of leagues best to date.

Durde’s front gashed opponents with as much success and consistency as any team in the league last season, leading the way for a defense that ranked first in pressure rate and second in EPA/play.

Asked whether he takes more pride in such areas than in sack numbers, he points to the ‘danger’ of getting bogged down in stats. Durde takes pride in “earning the right to rush the passer” by way of stopping the run first, with the knowledge he has the edge-rippers primed to roar when given the green light.

“Once we do that we can go to work and I think if you look at those stats they show we can rush the passer, we’ve got to get to those opportunities to rush the passer,” he said. “We know we have good players which helps.”

Micah Parsons is a good player. Maybe the best in the league at what he does, in fact.

He led the team with 13.5 sacks and 41 pressures last season as he was deployed off the edge on a more full-time basis having spent his rookie year shape-shifting between the off-ball linebacker as which he had entered the league and fully-loaded quarterback hunter.

7-Round Cowboys mock draft with athleticism profiles, roles for each prospect - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Drafting good athletes is never a bad thing, especially at positions of need.

In our latest mock, we run into this problem with a player who was under heavy consideration in Round 2, somehow making it to Round 3. If that player dropped in real life, Dallas would more than likely sprint to the podium. So who are we to deny the fates given us by the AI overlords?

1.26 CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

The Cowboys have Stephon Gilmore on a one-year rental and at his big age there’s no reason to believe this is going to be a multi-year situation. There’s a ton of inconsistency at the position with he, CB1 Trevon Diggs and CB3 Jourdan Lewis all on expiring deals and DaRon Bland needing to prove it again in Year 2.

The need is obvious but while Banks doesn’t fit the Dan Quinn CB profile to a T, he’s certainly tenacious in coverage and run support and meets enough of the athletic thresholds Dallas should still be interested if he falls.

2.58 OL Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin

Tippmann is an absolute mauler and has said he would be willing to play left guard. Dallas drafting him allows them to play their Top 5 lineman as he could also stay at his original spot as a center and upgrade from Tyler Biadasz who was a down-line replacement Pro Bowler. Dallas having six starter-level players in their OL group (Tyler Smith, Tyron Smith, Biadasz, Zack Martin, Terence Steele) is the bare minimum and Tippman gets them there. New OL coach Mike Solari likely wants to shop for some groceries of his own and Tippman is a good jump off.

3.90 WR Marvin Mims, Jr., Oklahoma

The more we talk about Mims the less likely it feels he’d make it this far in the draft, but we’ll roll with it as he’d be too good to pass up for Dallas at this spot in real life. The Cowboys are good this year at WR, but replenishing this position is a must, especially considering the learning curve it takes most prospects to acclimate to the league.

Dallas will hold out hope Jalen Tolbert clicks, but won’t hold their breath. Having Mims as CeeDee Lamb’s long-term compliment is just too savvy to pass up, even with Brandin Cooks now in the mix.

Why Cowboys Didn’t Offer a New Contract to Zeke? - Nick Eatman,

A classy move by the front office towards one of the franchise’s all-time greats.

Ezekiel Elliott was officially released by the Cowboys on March 15, just a few minutes after the start of the new-league year.

But his name has resurfaced quite a bit here at the league meetings in Arizona, as Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Mike McCarthy have all been interviewed by reporters for the first time since free agency began.

And all three have been complimentary about Zeke, with Jerry Jones even stating that he would not officially take a potential return by Zeke “off the table.”

But the Cowboys never made an official offer to Zeke to redo his contract.

Jerry Jones even quipped, “Zeke gave us everything he had and more. And we gave him everything we had and more. So that’s the way you’d like to end it.”

COO Stephen Jones said the reasoning came down to respect.

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