Extra Points: Ware #1, Garrett Frustrated, NFL Rule Change

Here are some of the top Dallas Cowboy’s stories and news items from around the web.

DeMarcus Ware Is Top NFL  Pass Rusher

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but ESPN.com’s NFL bloggers ranked the best pass-rushers in the NFL and the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware came in at No. 1. Ware led the NFL with 15.5 sacks, but there are some other things he did well that you need to notice. Ware led the Cowboys with 36 pressures, something coach Jason Garrett looks at when evaluating a pass-rusher. Ware also had the team lead with nine tackles for loss. Oh and by the way, Ware is in the running to appear on the cover of EA Sports Madden 12. Fans can vote at www.espn.com/maddenvote.

NFL Rule Change On Kickoffs

Today, the NFL owners approved moving up kickoffs by five yards to the 35 but kept the spot for touchbacks at the 20. The original proposal called for the spot to be advanced to the 25, which would have devalued the touchback and lessened Buehler’s impact. During his two seasons in the NFL, Buehler is tied with Atlanta’s Michael Koenen for the most touchbacks with 51. Wtih the rule change, Buehler should get touchbacks at will, if he keeps the job.

Garrett Frustrated Over Lockout

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett laments the fact that the off-season strength and conditioning program for the players would have started Monday if not for the NFL lockout. But it’s simply another example of the lack of normalcy during the current labor impasse. “I think it’s frustrating for everyone involved in the league that it’s not business as usual right now,” Garrett said during a break from the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans. “But that’s the way it is and we have to understand what it is and we have to deal with it and still be able to function as well as we can given the circumstances.” The lockout poses a bigger problem for the Cowboys considering they have a new defensive coordinator in Rob Ryan. Not having the off-season program and possibly the organized team activities and minicamps is a problem, he said.

Teams Interested In Cowboys First Round Pick

The Cowboys are getting calls from other teams about trading the No. 9 overall pick of the draft Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday from the NFL owners’ meetings.  “I’ve already had the opportunity to discuss and been approach by two separate clubs,” Jones said. “And not just a general, ‘Would you take who?’ Would you be interested because they know, you wouldn’t be doing your job if you wouldn’t interested in looking at any opportunity you might have regarding a draft pick or a trade.”  Whether or not the Cowboys trade the pick is uncertain, but the Cowboys have all sorts of needs after a 6-10 season that cost coach Wade Phillips his job.

73 Larry Allen – Offensive Lineman – 1994 – 2005

This edition of my Legends series recognizes a truly great player… Great in talent, great in strength, great in passion and great in size. Of course I’m talking about a giant of a man, Larry Allen.

Allen first gained national attention when he led little known, Sonoma State to the Senior Bowl in 1992. The two time All-American starred while playing guard, and in two seasons he only allowed one sack. He set ten different team records that still stand today.

In 1994, Larry Allen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, making him the first NFL player ever to be selected from Sonoma State. He made an immediate impact on the team and was soon considered to be the NFL’s premier offensive lineman.

He is widely recognized as the one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history and is certainly the best offensive lineman the Dallas Cowboys have ever had. He was the biggest part of an offensive unit that has posted the four lowest sacks allowed totals in club history with 18 in 1995, 19 in 1996 and 1998, and 20 in 1994.

Allen is widely credited for the success of Emmitt Smith with his unparalleled play as his lead blocker, and played a role in eight of his eleven 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Allen, was also able to bench press 700 pounds, and is considered to be the strongest man to ever play professional football.

In his 12 year career, Larry Allen was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and is just the third player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at more than one offensive line position during his career. Only Bob Lilly had more Pro Bowl selections than Larry Allen. He is the most decorated offensive lineman in Dallas Cowboys history.

Despite a brief two-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers at the end of his playing days, Allen played most of his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys.

When Allen finally decided to hang them up, he didn’t want to go out as a 49er so he signed a one-day contract with the team he’s loved all his life, and retired as a Dallas Cowboy. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

March (Mock) Madness

I want to preface this whole thing with the fact that I realize this is pure fantasy. It’s something that keeps me involved in the NFL and NCAA football seasons when they aren’t playing. (Go Cowboys, Hook Em Horns!) I’ve sifted through most relevant projection sites and two stand out to me:

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/TSX/2011 for player rankings and http://www.walterfootball.com/draftchart.php for draft pick value.

With that said, I moved around in the draft (Jerry style) to collect the highest impact and value players I could find, keeping the salary CAP in mind all the while.

I’ll start with the draft since there is no CBA currently in place

1 (9) *TRADE* to St.Louis who selects Julio Jones WR Alabama (rated: 9) ahead of Washington. Dallas receives St.Louis’ 1 (14,) 3 (78,) 5 (142) and 6 (173)

1(14) Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin (rated:22)
Claims he’s the best OT in the draft. JJ requested more tape on Tyron Smith and scouts followed Anthony Costanzo’s career at Boston College closely. Doesn’t matter…Carimi is truely the best pure right tackle in this draft and Marc Colombo must be replaced…

1 (26) Dallas trades picks 2 (40) and 3 (78) to Baltimore for 1 (26)
Dallas selects either Jimmy Smith CB Colorado (rated: 26) or Brandon Harris CB Miami (rated: 27)
Terrance Newman is slowing down and increasingly injury prone…His salary far excedes his performance…The Cowboys need CAP relief and a young talented CB for the future…One of these two should be here for the Cowboys to take advantage of.

3 (65) Dallas trades picks 3 (71) and 5 (142) to Carolina for pick 3 (65)
Dallas selects Ben Ijalana G Villanova (rated: 65)
Marcus Cannon would have been nice to get here and replace Leonard Davis and his 6 mil dollar salary but he rates higher (at 53) and would put two rookies on the right side of the line…Not good…Ben Ijalana has the skill set to replace Kyle Kosier on the left side…His toughness, athleticism and strong hands (his background as a high school wrestler is apparent) should allow him to transition from LT to LG. Kosier was also responsible for calling the audibles on the line. (asually a center’s responsibility) That duty would also need to be absorbed by Ijalana or Gurode. Hopefully Ijalana.

4 (109) *TRADE* to Minnesota for 4 (136,) 6 (165) and a 2012 6th round pick. Minnesota selects Tyler Sash SS Iowa (rated: 100)
I don’t see any of these “top” safeties an upgrade over Akwasi or Sensebaugh, whom I believe will be resigned. Duenta Williams is the only safety I would consider over any of the late round players I took in this draft that I think could compete with AOA for the FS spot opposite Sensebaugh. Since I didnt take Williams, I signed Huff too. Depends on how much $ he would command and the amount of years guaranteed.

4 (127) Dallas trades picks 6 (169) and 6 (173) to Pittsburgh for pick 4 (127)
Dallas selects Ian Williams DT Notre Dame (rated: 136)
Ian had a pre-combine visit with Dallas and is a prime candidate to rotate with Josh Price-Brent at the nose position, allowing Ratliff to make his long awaited move to Igor Olshanski’s position at RDE. (freeing Igor’s $3.335 million salary) I know Rob Ryan said Ratliff is and will be a DT, but he didnt say in what packages. Ratliff could be a DE in the base 3-4 package and a DT in others. I think Ryan is smart enough to put his best players on the field and having options is nice.

5 (136) Dallas selects John Moffitt G Wisconsin (rated: 139)
Moffitt will be reunited with Gabe Carimi and in year two the Wisconsin duo will take over the right side for the next 10 years in Dallas. Moffitt will sit behind Leonard Davis for a year and improve his core strength.

4 (140) Casey Matthews ILB Oregon (rated: 144)
He hasn’t improved his draft stock one bit since the Duck’s regular season in 2010. However, he is a Matthews and he lead the Oregon Duck’s 2010 team in tackling with 79. Dallas needs help on the inside. Could be a steal or semi-bust. Worth rolling the dice…

6 (165) Owen Marecic FB Stanford (rated:161)
Only because this is such a strong FB class do I believe it is possible to still get Marecic at 165. The emergence of Charles Clay, Stanley Havili and Henry Hynoski should let one drop to Dallas here and improve at a very weak position. Marecic is exactly the type of player I want on this roster. He puts his head down and works hard. This is the extreme value pick of this draft. To boot, anyone opposed to taking a FB should look at the undrafted player responsible for ending the seasons, because of missed blocks, for both Romo and Bryant in 2010.

7 (209) Willie Smith OT East Carolina (rated: 231)
There is a depth void at LT and it would be nice to have a tackle with a LT skill set and experience playing that side of the line…

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

-Nick Bellore ILB Central Michigan
depth for Bradie James’ side. Leon williams was not tendered

-Bruce Miller OLB UCF
competition for Brandon Williams, who is coming to a crossroads on the weak side behind Ware

-Anthony Allen RB Georgia Tech
I don’t know how Tashard Choice will react to this. My guess is that he assumes a leadership role and takes charge of the every-down back role and Felix is used as a Reggie Bush type player. That is if JG allows this. Allen should challenge JJ’s last year favorite, Lonyae Miller,  for the 3rd RB spot.

-Lazarius Levingston DE LSU
Bowen and Hatcher seem to be locked up again with their tenders. Last year’s 6th round pick Sean Lissemore could use some competition on Ratliff’s newly aquired position at RDE.

-DeJon Gomes SS Nebraska
Barry Church needs to be pushed. He signed a modest 3 year deal in 2010 that could easily be whiped out if Gomes emerges as the better safety who can also contribute to Special Teams.

Free Agent Signings:

Doug Free LT Dallas
Michael Huff S Oakland
Gerald Sensebaugh SS Dallas
Stephen Bowen LDE Dallas
Jason Hatcher LDE Dallas
Alan Ball CB/S Dallas
Jesse Holley WR/ST Dallas

2011 Depth Chart:

QB: Romo/Kitna/McGee
RB: Choice/Jones/ L.Miller or Allen
FB: Marecic
WR: Austin/Bryant/R.Williams/Ogletree/Holley
TE: Witten/Bennett/Phillips
LT: Free/Smith
LG: Ijalana/Holland
C: Gurode/Costa
RG: Davis/Moffitt
RT: Carimi/Young

RDE: Ratliff/Lissemore or Levingston
NT: rotation of I.Willams and Price-Brent
LDE: Bowen/Hatcher
WOLB: Ware/B.Williams or B.Miller
WILB: Lee/Brooking/Matthews
SILB: James/Bellore
SOLB: Spencer/Butler
CB: Jenkins/J.Smith or Harris/Scandrick/Ball/McCann
FS: Huff/AOA/McCray
SS: Sensebaugh/Church or Gomes

P: McBriar
K: Buehler or Brown
LS: Ladouceur

72 Ed “Too Tall” Jones – Defensive End – 1974 – 1989

This next Cowboys legend is a true giant. Standing six-feet, nine-inches tall, defensive lineman Ed “Too Tall” Jones was very deserving of his nickname. However, it was his skills as a football player that Cowboys fans will remember most.

In high school he played basketball and received 52 college scholarships, but he decided instead to play football for Tennessee State. It was a decision he would never regret as he led Tennessee to an almost perfect record during his 3 years with them, losing only one game in those 3 seasons.

His performance at Tennessee State caught the eye of the Dallas Cowboys’ recruiting staff, and in 1974 Jones became the number one pick in the NFL draft. Some of the experts said the Cowboys wasted their number one overall pick on him because he was too tall to play football, and the name stuck.

“Too Tall” Jones won acclaim for his role in the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line-up during the 1970s and 1980s, playing for a franchise record 15 years.

During his first five years with Dallas, the Cowboys played in the Super Bowl three times, following the 1975, 1977, and 1978 seasons.

 He was a tenacious defender with a knack for going after the opposing quarterback causing them to rush their throws and upsetting their offense. Along the way he piled on a great deal of sacks. He reached his record high in 1985, sacking the opposition’s quarterback 13 times.

Jones shocked his coaches and teammates at the end of 1979 when he announced he would not be returning to Dallas the following season to pursue a career in boxing. He did exactly that and after one year he retired undefeated, and re-signed with the Cowboys and played with them until his retirement in 1989.

He was named All Pro in 1981 and 1982, played in the Pro Bowl three times, and was named Most Valuable Player in 1982.

28 Darren Woodson – Safety – 1992 – 2004

In this chapter of my Legends series, I take a look at one of the best safeties ever to wear a Cowboys uniform, the great Darren Woodson.

Woodson was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a converted linebacker in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Arizona State University.

He played at safety for the Cowboys and was a five time Pro Bowl selection who developed a reputation as an effective run-stopper and was a feared and ferocious hitter.

He was leader both on and off the field and was a mentor to many of the younger players, including Roy Williams at the time (no the other Roy Williams!).

Besides chasing and tackling ball carriers in the secondary, Woodson also was very relentless at chasing down and stopping kick returners on special teams.

For many years, Woodson dominated at his position and was a threat to anyone carrying the ball within his range. Many of his tackles were so ferocious that he drew many fines from the NFL during his career.

However, doing all those things for all those years finally took a toll on Woodson’s body. After missing most of the season after having back surgery just before training camp, the hard-hitting safety announced his retirement in December of 2004.

It was the end of an era for the Dallas Cowboys. Darren Woodson was the last player left from the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl champions and he was also the last player drafted by Jimmy Johnson. His 1,350 tackles are the most-ever in Cowboys history. 

Just the mention of Woodson’s name can still make opposing wide receivers and kickoff returners cringe. It won’t be long until he’s one day recognized in the Cowboys Ring of Honor.

54 Chuck Howley – Linebacker – 1961-1973

When you talk about Cowboys who have beaten the odds, Chuck Howley is one of the first players to come to mind. His story is a remarkable one when you consider that for a time, nobody ever thought he would be able play football again after suffering a devastating injury in only his second season as a pro.

Howley was a tremendous athlete and one of the most versatile college players in history, being able to play at every position before deciding he wanted to focus on being a guard and center for West Virginia University. He was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection and was the Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1957.

In 1958, Howley was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft, but after a season ending knee injury in 1959, he was forced to announce his retirement believing he would never be able to play football again. It was a sad end to what started out as very promising career… or was it?

However, in 1961 with his knee fully healed, Chuck Howley decided to make a comeback, but the Bears believing he was finished had no interest in bringing him back. Big mistake. Tom Landry was very interested and the Dallas Cowboys traded a couple of draft picks to the Chicago Bears for his rights, and thus began his remarkable career as one of the best defensive players in team history.

Chuck Howley had a punishing style of play and was known for his ability to impact a game with his deceptive speed and blistering tackles. He was one of the best outside linebackers in the league and certainly one of the best ever to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

He teamed up with Dave Edwards and Lee Roy Jordan to form one of the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history and helped form what would become the legendary “Doomsday Defense“.

He played 14 seasons for the Cowboys tying him for the second longest tenure in franchise history, and was selected to six Pro Bowls during that span.

Howley helped lead the team to five Eastern Conference Titles, two NFL Championship games and two Super Bowls. He holds the distinction of being the first defensive player ever to win a Super Bowl MVP, as well as being the first player from a losing team ever to named MVP in Super Bowl V.

In 1976, Chuck Howley was the fourth player to be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

Feudin, Fussin and Fightin

As the NFL feud continues over the CBA we the fans sit and wait and hope for good news. We read the countless articles and watch the never ending news reports on TV. No one knows for sure when a new agreement will come except for the people sitting in those meetings. It’s the NFL owner’s vs the NFL players, The Hatfield’s vs The McCoy’s, The Jets vs The Sharks (West Side Story reference), The Flintstones vs The Hatrocks. Ok, so maybe I went a little too far with The Flintstones reference.

All of this brings me back to 1982 and 1987 when the NFL stopped. As a fan I really don’t care about what the differences are between the two sides and I would never pretend that I understand. What I do know is that these owners and players make millions and billions of dollars and the fact that they can’t come to an agreement is amazing to me. I live a simple life and support my family the best I can as I live paycheck to paycheck, but these people can’t seem to agree on how to share billions of dollars? Hello! Reality check please!!!

As for the 1982 NFL strike, it was the first time as a fan I experienced no football when there should be football. I don’t remember why it happened or what the problems were, but I do remember that after week 2 of the season everything came to a halt. As for the Cowboys they had started the season with a crushing defeat to the Steelers on Monday Night Football, 36-28. Then they evened their record at 1-1 the next week with a 24-7 win over the Cardinals.

Here is the cover of Sports Illustrated a week after the strike started.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/8817/index.htm

On September 21, 1982 the NFL stopped playing football and stadiums went dark. The strike lasted 57 long days and ended up cancelling seven regular season games. I remember coming home from school every day and trying to find out any news. Of course this was before computers, cell phones, NFL Network or Twitter. As a fan there was a feeling that I would never see football again. Then on November 16, 1982 the strike finally ended and football was back, but because of the length of the strike and the number of games cancelled the NFL made some changes. The 1982 season would be a nine game season and all divisions would be ignored. The NFL went with just the AFC and the NFC and the top eight teams in each conference would qualify for the playoffs.

The Cowboys finished 1982 with a 6-3 record and was the second seed in the playoffs behind the 8-1 Redskins, who they would eventually lose to in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins went on to beat the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, 27-17.

Then once again in 1987 after week 2 all football stopped with another strike. The Cowboys started the season with a 24-13 loss to the Cardinals. Then in week 2 they beat the Giants 16-14 to even their record at 1-1. One of the differences with the 1987 strike compared to the 1982 strike was that only one week was cancelled. Football stopped on September 21, 1987 and started up again on October 4, 1987. The other major difference was that when football started again two weeks later it was with players most people had never heard of before.

The NFL owners prepared themselves for a strike in 1987 even before the regular season started. They fielded replacement teams while the NFL players were striking outside stadiums across the country. Some teams prepared better then others to get their replacement teams in place. Teams brought in recently cut players, retired players and undrafted college players. Just like in 1982 I could not tell you why the strike was happening or what the issues were. All I knew as a young fan was that the Cowboys were playing football and I needed to get to know the new players.

The NFL would play three replacement games before the strike ended and everyone went back to work. During those three replacement games the Cowboys went 2-1 with wins over the Jets and Eagles and a loss to the Redskins.  Some NFL players decided they were not going strike during the replacement games and crossed the picket lines. Players like Lawrence Taylor, Randy White, Danny White, Tony Dorsett, Mark Gastineau, Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark and Howie Long as well as many others. There were only three teams that did not have one of their players cross the picket lines and they were the Redskins, Bears and Chargers.

The NFL decided to count the replacement games once all the players came back and they played a 15 game schedule in 1987. As for the Cowboys, the season was not one to remember as they went 7-8 and missed the playoffs. Just like in 1982 the Redskins went on to win it all as they beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, 42-10.

Now here we are in 2011 and another NFL work stoppage is hanging in the air. As fans there is nothing we can do. We watch and we wait for good news and hopefully the good news comes well before the season. There won’t be any replacement games this time around. Just dark, empty stadiums as time continues to tick away. Hey, do I still have to pay for my Sunday Ticket package if the season is interrupted? Do I get money off if the season starts late? I guess that is another post at another time.

Let’s all hope for the best as this feud continues and that the people involved in the negotiations can come to an agreement before things get bad. The NFL’s popularity is at an all time high right now and last thing that is needed is a lockout. I’m sure there is a way to share the billions of dollars that they are fighting over. Just get it done so football is not ruined.

Countless D-Line Options Available for Cowboys in Upcoming Draft

As the 2011 Scouting Combine comes to a close in Indy, prospects are getting rearranged and reshuffled on countless draft boards, mock drafts are getting retooled, value charts and “big boards” are getting redone. It’s getting to be that time of year when we start the wild speculation about the 2011 NFL draft and start coming up with the names that we could see on the backs of those famous white Cowboys jerseys.

Since defensive line is undoubtedly the deepest position in the 2011 draft, and maybe even the best defensive line class we’ve seen in several decades, it is only fitting to start with them. Defensive line is also very much a need in Dallas this year and what a great year it is to be in the market for a stud on the defensive line. So with that, let’s take a look:

 

Nick Fairley – Defensive Tackle, Auburn

Nick Fairley is without a doubt the most impressive prospect of this very talented bunch. Anyone who watched SEC football in 2010 saw Fairley completely take over games against elite competition all season. At 6’4″ and 291 pounds, he is a player that can be plugged in at any position on the defensive line, in any defensive scheme, for the next ten years. In Dallas’ case, Fairley would probably project as a 3-4 defensive end. He ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at the combine, which is amazingly fast for a man his size. With 11.5 sacks in 2010 and a staggering 24 tackles for loss, Fairley has the skill to get into the backfield and disrupt plays and get to the quarterback. He has a non-stop motor and a nasty streak that I personally have not seen since Warren Sapp was in his prime in Tampa Bay. You can bet your bottom dollar that this guy is at the top of the wishlist in Jerry’s war room come draft day, though he is almost certain to be gone by pick #9.

 

Marcell Dareus – Defensive Tackle, Alabama

Another SEC player who turned heads in 2010 was Marcell Dareus. Though he didn’t have the eye-popping numbers that Nick Fairley did, he still produced solidly for the Crimson Tide. In the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, Dareus was virtually unblockable the entire game. His skills are very similar to Fairley’s and the two have been compared non-stop for months. Though Dareus is a tad shorter (6’3″), and a bit heavier (319) than Fairley, I think he still projects nicely to the 3-4 defensive end spot. Though heavier than Fairley, Dareus still ran a moderately fast 40-yard dash at 4.93. I don’t know that Dareus’ pass-rushing skills are as refined as Fairley’s, but his skill set is definitely better than what the Cowboys got out of Igor Olshansky last year. I’ve heard several reports that Dareus reminds some people of Marcus Spears when he came out of LSU. While that is somewhat worrisome, I think Dareus showed at the combine that he is worthy of a top ten pick. Unlike Fairley, I think Dareus could be on the board when Dallas goes on the clock and if that’s the case, he may just become a Cowboy.

 

Cameron Jordan – Defensive End, Cal

Not many people get to watch the Pac-10 as much as the SEC during football season, and for that reason, Cam Jordan may be the best kept secret in the entire draft. Like Dareus, Jordan produced solid numbers all season. He is another guy that can easily be plugged in at a 3-4 defensive end and contribute immediately. Since he played in a 3-4 scheme at Cal, he may have a leg up on guys who have not worked in a traditional 3-4 previously. Jordan is a freakish athlete at 6’4″, 287 pounds, and ran an impressive 4.78 40-yard dash at the combine. He also has NFL bloodlines as his father Steve was a 6-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Minnesota Vikings. While I think Jordan may be a reach at #9, I could see him being a real possibility for the Cowboys if they decide to trade back to the middle of the first round.

 

Cameron Heyward – Defensive End, Ohio State

Heyward is a guy who has had the “underachiever” and “lazy” tags attached to his name throughout his college career, but anyone who watched him in the Sugar Bowl knows what kind of potential he has. Against the #8 Arkansas Razorbacks and potential first day offensive tackle prospect Demarcus Love, Heyward was completely dominant and had his name called throughout the entire game. He has a non-stop motor and like Cameron Jordan, has the skills to be a dominating force in the NFL. He has ideal 3-4 defensive end size at 6’5″, 294. He didn’t run the 40 at the combine, but look for him to post a time similar to Nick Fairley’s during Ohio State’s pro day. He is a relentless competitor when motivated and also has NFL bloodlines as the son of “Ironhead” Heyward. I can only see Heyward getting picked by Dallas if they trade down to the late first round, or if he is still available in the early second round by some amazing stroke of luck.

 

J.J. Watt – Defensive End, Wisconsin

J.J. Watt is another guy who’s stock has been soaring since the Rose Bowl against TCU. Like Dareus, Fairley, and Heyward, he looked simply unstoppable against a very talented Horned Frogs offense. Watt is extremely athletic as a converted tight end and also has the impressive measurables at almost 6’6″ and 290 pounds. He is another 3-4 defensive end that ran the 40-yard dash stunningly fast at 4.84 seconds. He posted tremendous stats for the Badgers last year with seven sacks and 21 tackles for loss, and both numbers are a tribute to his pass-rushing skills and quickness. He is a instinctive player with great intangibles who would be a fantastic fit in Dallas. Like Jordan, I can only see Dallas drafting Watt if they trade back into the middle of the first round, but I certainly don’t expect him to be available in the second round.

 

Other Prospects

 

De’Quan Bowers – Defensive End, Clemson

Bowers had a superb year for the Clemson Tigers with 25 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks. Unfortunately he projects to be a defensive end in the 4-3 and is probably too small to be a defensive end in the 3-4. Will likely be gone in the first five picks.

 

Robert Quinn – Defensive End, North Carolina

Like Bowers, Quinn is a smaller defensive end at only 6’4″, 265 and projects better as a 4-3 defensive end or possibly a 3-4 outside linebacker. Didn’t play in 2010 and has a bust factor about him. Nevertheless, he is still a top 15 pick.

 

Stephen PaeaDefensive Tackle, Oregon State

Paea set the record for most bench press reps ever at the combine with 49. He’s a bit on the short side at 6’1″ and is also fairly light for a defensive tackle at 303 pounds. Regardless of size, Paea has great versatility and strength and if he lasts into the second round, Dallas may be interested in him as a player to move around and utilize along the defensive line.

 

Muhammad Wilkerson – Defensive End, Temple

Wilkerson is an enormous athlete at 6’4″ 315 who ran a fast 40 at the combine at 4.96. Was very productive in college and projects well as a 3-4 defensive end. He could be a possibility for Dallas in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

 

 

 

 

 

Latest from Cowboys Land with CBA about to expire

Welcome to the off-season. Here we are a week and a half away from the end of the CBA and there has been no news on the negotiations. What we do know is that the owners and players association have been meeting with federal mediator George Cohen the last few day, but have all agreed on a code of silence as far as what has been happening behind those close doors.

While the negotiations are on going for a new CBA, things with the Cowboys coaching staff have been finalized. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has finally spoken about his new position and has come off saying all the right things from what I’ve heard. I believe the Ryan hiring will be a positive because the Cowboys defense needed a change. I believe they became too comfortable with Wade Phillips the last few years and things became stale and predictable. With Ryan I look for an attacking defense and for him to do different things during different situations, unlike Phillips.

Other coaches joining the Cowboys are Jimmy Robinson (Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers), Matt Eberflus (Linebackers), Brian Baker (Defensive Line) and Mike Woicik (Strength and Conditioning). Head Coach Jason Garrett believes they have put in place the best possible coaches to get the Cowboys to the next level. From everything I’m hearing from the new coaches I’m excited to see the team in action. It was time for the Cowboys to make some changes and to get some new blood.

As far as the players, the Cowboys have some important free agents like Doug Free, Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Kyle Kosier, Bryan McCann, Stephen Bowen, Allan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh and Sam Hurd. I’m sure not all of these players will be back for the Cowboys in 2011 and a lot also depends on the new CBA and when the new deal is signed. Come March 4th no players that are scheduled to become free agents can be signed until a new deal is signed. I believe the Cowboys top priority is Doug Free and they need to get him signed. He made big strides in his first season as the starting left tackle. The offensive line needs a lot of work and Free is a good starting point.

Now, I will never claim to be an expert as far as free agency or the salary cap or anything on the business side of football, but with Sensabaugh and Ball both being free agents and neither being the answer at safety in my opinion, my question is why aren’t the Cowboys doing anything right now? Or maybe they are and the public just doesn’t know it. Three safeties were just released and can be interviewed and signed anytime between now and March 3rd. OJ Atogwe, Eugene Wilson and Bob Sanders are all on the open market right now. Why not bring them in? Atogwe was also a free agent last off-season and the Cowboys showed no interest. Again, in no way am I an expert with the business side and maybe the Cowboys have a plan, but from what I’ve seen from the safety play is that the position needs to be addressed. I can name all kind of players that I would like the Cowboys to sign, but is just me being a fan and thinking how great it would be to go on a signing spree.

One thing that is certain is that even if a new CBA agreement is not reached in the coming weeks or months is that the NFL Draft will be held April 28-30. The Cowboys currently hold the 9th overall pick. Do the Cowboys draft for need or best player available?

When it comes to the Cowboys free agents, other NFL free agents or the draft, none of that will matter if a new CBA is not signed because there won’t be a 2011 NFL season. As a fan I have gone through the 1982 strike, which wiped out seven games from the regular season schedule and the 1987 strike, which brought in scab players for three games. Both were not fun at all and I would rather not go through a third strike. Let’s hope the owners and the players can come to an agreement quickly so the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL can get back to doing what they normally do during this time of year.

Can You Guess This Cowboy?

Here’s a new feature I’d like to have some fun with this offseason. Try and guess who the Cowboys player is each week.

To get things started, this first one is very easy. In addition to the blurred image hint, you also get two other hints.

Lets see how good you are!

Hint Number One

Hint Number Two

He won the  Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best college receiver in his sophomore year, becoming only the second NCAA player ever to do it.

Hint Number Three

A spectacular touchdown catch he once made on national TV, was voted that season as the “Catch of the Year”.

I smell wood burning…

24 Larry Brown – Cornerback – 1991 – 1998

Sometimes, a great player will always be remembered because of a particular game or moment, sort of like Bobby Thomson and the Shot Heard ‘Round The World. This might be the case for this Legends of the Star, cornerback Larry Brown.

Nobody expected Larry Brown to make the team when he was originally drafted by the Cowboys in the 12th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. The smallish cornerback hailed from Texas Christian University and his numbers while in college were good, but not spectacular.

However, Larry Brown will always be remembered for his big game during Super Bowl XXX. Trailing 13-7 in the third quarter, Brown intercepted Steelers quarterback, Neil O’Donnell at the Cowboys’ 38-yard line and returned it all the way down to Pittsburgh’s 18. It was his second interception and it led to a touchdown run by Emmitt Smith.

Larry Brown’s two interceptions led to 14 second-half points and helped lift the Cowboys to their third Super Bowl victory in the last four seasons and their record-tying fifth title overall. For his efforts, he was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXX and became the first cornerback ever to win the award.

Brown became a free agent immediately after his MVP performance and signed with the Oakland Raiders, but returned to Dallas for the 1998 season, which would be his last. He retired with 14 career interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 2 fumble recoveries and was named to 2 Prow Bowls.

Larry Brown is now the co-host of “Countdown to Kickoff” on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, the flagship station of the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.

21 Deion Sanders – Cornerback – 1995-1999

When you ask any football fan to name one of the most exciting, colorful, entertaining and outspoken players ever to play in the NFL, the one name that is sure to come up is that of Deion Sanders.

Neon Deion was, and still is, one of the most brightest and entertaining personalities in the NFL, only these days he does most of his entertaining straight from the broadcast booth.

Deion was destined for stardom from day one. He started out his career in 1988 when he was drafted by New York Yankees. He was then drafted the following year by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. He showed up wearing thousands of dollars of diamonds and gold including a flashy silk shirt embroidered with the words “Prime Time.” The name stuck with him.

Sanders had a very successful baseball career and went on to have an even better football career. He became a rare two sport star who made headlines with his play as well as his very controversial comments. He was loved and hated by millions of fans across the country.

For his first five seasons in the NFL, Deion Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons and was the best cornerback in the league and one of the best return specialists in NFL history. He was as dynamic a player as there ever was in the game. He then signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, and became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His four tackles and interception helped the 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.

Soon after that, in 1995, Sanders signed a huge contract to play with the Dallas Cowboys. He was to get a $13 million dollar signing bonus, but because Jerry Jones was superstitious, he received $12,999,999.99, a penny less. With that contract, Sanders became the highest paid defensive player in the NFL and he earned every single penny of it. He could have signed for more money with the Eagles and the Raiders, but he chose the Cowboys because Jerry Jones promised Sanders that he would be able to play on offense as well as defense, the one thing Sanders wanted more than anything.

“Playing in the NFL is the ultimate high. When I get my hands on that football something crazy comes over me, it electrifies me. When I get on that field, I don’t ever want to come off that turf until the game is over and I scored the winning touchdown. I’m prime time, baby.”

Sanders was an immediate sensation on both sides of the ball. His speed and elusiveness was too much for opposing teams to handle. He was a game-breaker and helped the Cowboys march to another division title. His presence at cornerback helped the Cowboyss win the Super Bowl that season.

In that game, he became the only player in NFL history to catch a pass and make an interception in the Super Bowl.

In 1996, Sanders started all 16 games at cornerback and eight at wide receiver to become the first two-way NFL player in 34 years. But make no mistake, with eight Pro Bowl selections as a cornerback, defense is where Sanders really shined.

During his 14-year NFL career, Deion Sanders was a perennial All-Pro and one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game. He is still the only player to have appeared in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

On February 5, 2011, Deion Sanders reached the pinnacle of his football career and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was his first year of eligibility.

The following day, at Super Bowl XLV in Cowboys Stadium, the NFL chose Deion Sanders to perform the pre-game coin toss. Needless to say, as soon as he emerged to perform the honor, the Cowboys Stadium crowd went wild and he nearly brought the house down.

“They almost did it. They almost made old Deion cry.”

He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes in all of sports, and one of the most electrifying players the NFL has ever seen. Sanders certainly lived up to his name – he was and will always be “Prime Time”.