Last Mock Off Season Of January 2012

I have been busy with my off season addiction of researching free agents and draft hopefuls again. Right now I am knee deep in mock drafts and have completed a few complete off seasons as well. I am also currently finishing up my defensive analysis, which I will post in a couple days before leaving for Florida to work for a bit. Here is the last off season mock I made and posted on my Facebook page a couple days ago. Keep in mind this is just fantasy, but I try to be as realistic as possible, keeping in mind salary CAP and position needs as well as player availability both in free agency and each round of the draft. I do this for fun and hopefully you all will have some fun reading this and coming up with your own ideas as well. It’s a long off season and we have to keep busy some how. Enjoy…
I want to preface this one by acknowledging the fact that there is no way to make everyone happy. The moves (or non-moves) in this one that people will complain about is not resigning Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta. Also, not having better depth behind Victor Butler and Bruce Carter, so this one is a gamble. Then again, aren’t they all? Let me explain my thoughts before getting into free agents signed and the draft.

In this scenario, Laurent Robinson finds a much higher payday than Dallas is willing to shell out for it’s 4th option on offense, and decides it’s a much better idea to fortify other positions with that money. As for Fiammetta, his health concerns cause Jerry to wait until camp to see if he is an absolute need. There is no doubt, his blocking skills were directly related to Murray’s rookie success, so this one will be closely monitored. For now, the money is used to backup Romo, with the economical choice of Brady Quinn. Anthony Spencer finds a Chris Canty-like deal that is too rich for the Cowboys blood and Ryan decides he can roll with Victor Butler and a new young player from the draft. This decision also indirectly influences the first round pick in the draft.

Free Agents Signed:

Carl Nicks OG 7 years $57 million with $15 million signing bonus (contract comparable to former Saint’s teammate Jahri Evans)

This is the big move of the year. Nicks will pair with Tyron Smith to protect Romo’s blindside, giving him the time needed to make the critical reads.

Richard Marshall CB 6 years $28 million with $10 million guaranteed (contract similar to Scandrick’s)

Marshall was named defense MVP by Arizona Cardinal’s DC Ray Horton.He is a solid cover corner and tackles well. He was also used at safety last year when FS Kerry Rhodes was sidelined with a foot injury. Richard will come in and compete with Orlando Scandrick for a starting spot.

Thomas DeCoud FS 6 years $25 million with $8 million guaranteed (contract similar to Sensebaugh’s)

DeCoud became a solid starter in Atlanta, but became a CAP casualty with so many other priorities and William Moore as a fallback option. This is an upgrade for the Dallas secondary compared to resigning Elam to play SS and Sensebugh to stay at FS.

Brady Quinn QB 3 years $8 million with $4 million guaranteed

There are quite a few options here at this price, but Quinn is my flavor of the week. I could also see Chad Henne getting a look here.


2012 Dallas Cowboys Draft:

1. Devon Still DT/DE Penn State

Still is currently the 10th rated player and top rated DT in this years draft. I could also see Quinton Coples or Michael Brockers going here. The idea behind this pick is that I believe Courtney Upshaw will be gone by the 14th pick (probably to Buffalo at 10) and the dline has been ignored for years. If you watch today’s NFL QB’s against a 3-4 defense, most are aware of the edge rushers (OLB’s) and step up into the pocket to avoid pressure. If the pressure is also coming from the inside, it’s a different ballgame. Ratliff at NT and Hatcher and Still at DE, combined with Butler and Ware on the outside could be the upgrade in pressure that we’ve been lacking since the switch to a 3-4.

2. Ben Jones C/G Georgia

Jones is the second rated center in this year’s draft, but the perfect fir for Garrett’s offense. Ben is versatile, smart and strong. When asked what his greatest asset was at the senior bowl, his response was “My intelligence, I’m a smart guy. I can get the whole offensive line on the same page and I’m tough as hell.” One of our oline weaknesses for years was that the center doesn’t make the line adjustments. Kosier has been that guy and with age and injuries catching up to Kyle, Jones would be the perfect choice for the future at center.

3. Josh Norman CB Coastal Carolina

Norman caught the attention of scouts at the senior bowl. Although a small school player, his height, (6’2”) physicality, smoothness and great hands make him an intriguing prospect and worth the 3rd round grade he is currently receiving from most draft sights. Josh could be the steal of the draft and everyone knows Jerry likes to gamble on players with high upside to make him look like a genius.

4. T.Y. Hilton WR/PR Florida International

Hilton is another small school athlete with tremendous upside. He could potentially replace Laurent Robinson’s void as the 4th offensive option as well as provide a legitimate weapon on punt returns, finally keeping starting WR Dez Bryant off special teams. Although small in stature, (5’10” 185lbs.) T.Y.’s straight line speed, hands and elusiveness make him a weapon defenses must account for at all times.

4. (comp pick for Stephen Bowen) Tank Carder ILB TCU

Depth is needed on the inside after losing former starters Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Tank is a tough, physical player with great tackling technique. Carder was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2011.

5. Jack Crawford DE/OLB Penn State

Crawford is the second Penn State player taken in this draft and would be the third Nitny Lion on the 2012 defense joining starter Sean Lee and first round pick Devon Still. I really like his size for the position. (6’5” 270 lbs.) Crawford has tremendous work-ethic and energy and could be counted on for significant contributions during his rookie season rotating with Victor Butler on the strong side.

6. Beau Reliford TE Florida State

If Jerry doesn’t get caught up in the en-vogue two-tight end receiver option, Beau could be the cheaper solid blocking tight end needed after losing head-case Martellus Bennett to free agency. Reliford is a former basketball all-star and has the size (6’5” 260 lbs.) and athletic ability (like Bennett) to excel in Garrett’s offense.

7. Emil Igwenagu FB Massachusetts

Choosing not to resign Fiammetta right away and the slow progress of last year’s draft pick, Sean Chapas, leaves a void in the lead blocking department, which is essential to the health of the running game in Garrett’s 90’s style offense. With few teams looking for traditional fullbacks in this new era of passing prominence, Igwenagu has the receiving skills to do damage on the perimeter when not blasting holes in the running game. He was also voted team captain in 2011, something JG holds to a high regard.


New To The Silver & Blue: Bryan McCann

Bryan McCann caught a lot of fans attention during training camp and pre-season this spring only to be claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Ravens on September 5, 2010.  Fortunately for us he was cut by the Ravens after one game.  It didn’t take long for the Cowboys to re-sign him on September 16th. He was signed to the practice squad for a few months and was added to the active roster on November 4th.

It didn’t take long for this undrafted free agent to obtain his first NFL interception, picking off Eli Manning, returning it 101 yards for a touchdown.  That play also added him to the Dallas Cowboys record books for longest interception return once held by Mike Gaechter. McCann was also named Defensive Player of the Week.

The next week against the Detroit Lions he made a play on special teams that proved he is also a smart player that listens and learns from his coaches. McCann knew what he was doing when he picked up the ball from the three yard line and returned it 97 yards for his second NFL touchdown. Coach DeCamillis had preached since spring drills, if a member of the punt team has touched the ball the receiving team can attempt to advance it with no consequence. So even if McCann had fumbled it, the Cowboys still would of had it on the three yard line. This is a rookie we are talking about!  He is talented, smart and studies film over and over. Wow!

So where did this kid come from?

Here is a little background on undrafted free agent Bryan McCann.  He was born on September 29, 1987 in Lawton, Oklahoma. He attended Putman City High School in Oklahoma City, he was rated 20th best player in Oklahoma by and the 25th best player by the Daily Oklahoman. McCann lettered in football, basketball and track.

McCann turned down offers to play for Stanford, Northwestern, Tulsa, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, UAB and Rice. He choose to play for SMU where he played safety, cornerback and returned punts.

I can’t wait to see this young man’s future unfold.  With his work ethic and talent, the sky is the limit. I hope to see him in a Cowboy uniform for along time to come.

Kevin Ogletree: Trying Hard Or Hardly Trying?

I don’t know where this is coming from and how much of it just overblown, but I came across an article on that took a swipe at Kevin Ogletree’s character.

Tim MacMahon believes that the Kevin Ogletree, who kept making plays a year ago in the Alamodome when he was fighting for a roster spot, no longer has that same sense of urgency in this training camp.

The Cowboys still like Ogletree’s potential and believe he was a steal as an undrafted free agent. He showed his promise by making plays in a limited role as a rookie. Other than Dez Bryant, there might not be a more explosive receiver on the roster. He will be on the 53-man roster.

However, if Ogletree wants a significant role this season, he better flip the switch soon.

Ogletree has dropped too many balls this camp. He has failed to fight for the ball too many times. An example came on a crossing route during Thursday morning’s practice, when he allowed undrafted rookie cornerback Bryan McCann to knock the ball out of his hands.

MacMahon also says that he has Cowboys sources that are saying Ogletree has a sense of entitlement. That may or may not be true, but sometimes confidence in one’s abilities can be mistaken for a sense of urgency.

I don’t mind seeing a little swagger on the team, and would especially love to see that among some of the veterans.

The article concludes by saying that Ogletree doesn’t appear to have the right attitude. Really? One week into training camp and we’re already making judgment calls?

Needless to say, I disagree with MacMahon on this one, and I’d advise him to let the rest of training camp play out before calling someone out.

Could This Be the End for Favre?

It was reported on this morning that Brett Favre will not be returning to the Vikings this season.  Favre is expected to issue a press release later this afternoon. He has also started to communicate this to teammates. Reports are that Favre’s ankle has not responded after surgery and rehab this off-season.

I believe Favre said the same thing last season during training camp and a few days later he was on a plane to the Vikings complex. Could this all be true? Could Brett Favre finally be retiring? Or is this just the official start to “Favre Watch 2010”?

If this is true, then the Vikings just took a major nose dive in the preseason rankings in my opinion. The other quarterbacks on the Vikings roster are Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.

Dez Bryant Out 4-6 Weeks, May Miss All Pre-Season

Update 7:45 PM

The team announced Friday evening that Dez Bryant will miss four to six weeks. Bryant was injured on the second-to-last play of Friday’s practice in the Alamodome.

An MRI confirmed the team’s fear of a high ankle sprain. Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones had expressed hope that Bryant, who had a spectacular start to training camp, would be out for only a few days or a week, but now they are faced with an injury that could have ripple effects to start the season.

With this injury, the Cowboys’ top three picks are all injured. Second-round linebacker Sean Lee has been sidelined since Tuesday with a strained quadriceps, and fourth-round safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who had shoulder surgery in March, has not been cleared to practice yet.


Original Post 3:00 PM

ESPN Dallas reports:

SAN ANTONIO — Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, the team’s first-round selection, was helped off the field by two athletic trainers after suffering a right ankle injury near the end of the training practice Friday.

Bryant stayed on the Alamodome turf after cornerback Orlando Scandrick broke up a pass on a crossing route. Jon Kitna’s pass was thrown slightly behind Bryant, and Scandrick appeared to land on the prized rookie’s lower right leg. He was helped off the field, with Bryant keeping weight off it.

Bryant will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.

Let’s hope its not as bad as it sounds. All we can do at this point is wait for the MRI results.

Dez Bryant says no to Roy Williams

With training camp finally under way I was happy to finally get some news from the Cowboys this past weekend. All the practicing and the competition at so many positions is under way. I also loved the Kickoff show Friday night. For those who have not seen it you can watch it here.

The one thing that stood out to me this weekend was Dez Bryant refusing to carry Roy Williams shoulder pads after Sunday mornings practice. Bryant does not believe in any rookie initiations.

“I’m not doing it,” Bryant said. “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

“If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing. I just feel like I’m here to play football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone].”

“I don’t believe in that at all,” Bryant said. “We have a goal here. It’s not about playing games. It’s all about just trying to do the right thing and achieve our goal.”

Roy Williams does believe rookies should be doing some things for the veterans just like he had to do as a rookie.

“Everybody has to go through it,” Williams said. “I had to go through it. No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie.

“I carried pads. I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn’t want to be that guy.”

I love that Dez Bryant refuses to carry Williams shoulder pads and is saying all the right things about the team being first and working towards a goal. With that kind of thinking from Bryant it won’t be long before Williams is carrying Bryant’s shoulder pads. Maybe Williams should concentrate more on catching the football then bothering the player that is most likely going to replace him.

Other news from camp is that supplemental pick Josh Brent suffered a broken hand in practice Sunday morning. Coach Wade Philips is hoping Brent can return to practice Monday. Any kind of time missed will only hurt Brent for his chances of making the team.

Keith Brooking is only practicing once a day as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. Although Brooking says he feels good, he understands that at his age it will do his body good to be held out a little during training camp.

Who is this man? Nate “The Kitchen” Newton has taken care of himself due to some serious health issues as he approached almost 400 pounds. On April 19th Newton had weight loss surgery and has since lost 132 pounds. He is now down to 263 pounds and is feeling good.

Orlando Scandrick is working through the pain of his broken finger and knows that training camp is even more important because of the work he missed during the teams OTAs.

“I’ve still got some pain but I’m working through it,” Scandrick said. “Just have to be tough. I just need time. I need the practice. I could feel my timing was off. I felt a little rusty out there.”

Getting the Party Started In San Antonio

Training camp signifies the beginning of football season, and the Cowboys always know how to get the party started right!

I’d like to thank my good friend Becky for sharing these pictures via text as she enjoyed memorable moments down in San Antonio. Training Camp is open to the public with free admission so if you are in the area or have the chance to make a road trip down south, as you can tell from these pictures I have no doubt you will have a wonderful time.

San Antonio, Texas Training Camp: July 23rd through August 6th

Oxnard, California Training Camp: August 14th through August 27th

Rowdy on stage at the Kickoff Spectacular

Felix Jones taking some time to sign autographs for fans

Roy Williams signing autographs for fans in the stands

Dez Bryant getting attacked by the media at training camp

Mike Jenkins and others on the sideline at practice

Marion Barber and teammates at practice

Tashard Choice stretching in the endzone

Dez Is How We Do It In Big D

Many may be worried about his integrity.  Many may be worried about his stamina, having played very little ball in his final college season at Oklahoma State.  But today, Dez Bryant proved his drive by being the first player to take the field for the kickoff of training-camp.

According to the Associated Press, Bryant was on the field 45 minutes early wearing his coveted number 88 jersey. 

He began catching passes soon-after from undrafted rookie QB Matt Nichols.

“I want to help this team. I want to compete. I can’t wait to start playing football again,” Bryant said in a statement that was released by the Cowboys earlier in the week.

Bryant’s willingness to get his deal done and hit the field so readily, stand to backup these statements.

Only time will tell if those double-eights on his shoulders will become too much weight to bear.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

It has been reported by ESPN that the Cowboys and Penn State Linebacker Sean Lee have agreed to a four year contract.

Sean Lee is the last of the Cowboys draft picks to sign, which means there will be no holdouts. The Cowboys first practice is Saturday and everyone will be dressed and ready to go to work.

Good luck to the Cowboys as they open training camp. It’s going to be a fun ride.

Training Camp Kickoff Extravaganza

I can just hear all of the fans loading up their cars and heading to San Antonio as I write this – Road Trip! For those of you lucky enough to go to Training Camp you already know tonight is the big night, the Cowboys will kickoff in style.

Here is the information posted on the Cowboys official website:

2010 Training Camp Kickoff Spectacular

Friday, July 23rd
At the Alamodome
Free to the public
Doors open at 6pm
Event starts at 7pm

Duelo and Bowling for Soup

Also Appearing:
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
The Dallas Cowboys Players and Coaches

We are one step closer to football season and we are looking forward to a spectacular year!

If you have made plans to go sneak a peak at the 2010 Cowboys as they prepare for the season and want to share your experience with thousands of Cowboys fans, just send an e-mail to lonestarstruck at aol dot com, or click here to submit a message through our contact form.

Two Sign On The Line – Talks With Dez Begin

The Associated Press is reporting that the Cowboys have signed two of their 2010 draft picks.  OT Sam Young and DE Sean Lissemore both signed four-year contracts.

The team has not yet announced any deals on four other draft picks as of Tuesday: WR Dez Bryant, and LB Sean Lee.

The team has confirmed that negotiations with Bryant, the 24th pick overall, began on Monday.

Training camp starts for the Cowboys this Saturday in San Antonio.

Akwasi Agrees To 4 Year Deal With Cowboys

The Cowboys have agreed to terms with fourth-round pick, safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah today.

Owusu-Ansah’s agent, Nate Haber reported the news via Twitter:

Congrats to client Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (4th rd pick) and the Dallas Cowboys. We have agreed to terms on a 4-yr deal.

Haber said he expects his client to sign the contract on Thursday and report on time for the start of training camp, which begins on Saturday in San Antonio.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but unconfirmed reports say that he will earn base salaries of $320,000 (2010), $405,000 (2011), $490,000 (2012) and $575,000 (2013).

The Cowboys still have some work to do however as Dez Bryant (first round) Sean Lee (second round), Jamar Wall (sixth round) and Josh Price-Brent (supplemental pick) all have yet to sign.