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Watch Current Cowboys Stars During Their Days At The NFL Scouting Combine

RJ Ochoa

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Ezekiel Elliott

The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine begins this Tuesday, and there are a lot of players who are looking to hopefully raise their NFL Draft stock with some elite performances in Indianapolis.

The annual "Underwear Olympics", as pundits call them, are where future NFL stars are poked, prodded, questioned, drilled, and put through the ultimate ringer as their quests to professional football continue. A lot of information can be gleaned about a prospect at the Combine, and this set of data can have a lot to do with where a player ultimately ends up come Draft Day.

Byron Jones

One of the current Cowboys stars, Byron Jones, put on a display at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

The braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys - Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett, and Will McClay - have done an outstanding job over the last few seasons in terms of evaluating and drafting talent for their team.

What exactly did the braintrust see in certain players that made them want to put Stars on their prospective helmets? With the NFL Scouting Combine happening this week it felt like a great time to throw on our hindsight-vision to see what certain Dallas Cowboys Stars - no pun intended - showed off when everything was on the line.

So kick up your feet and relish in the greatness you're about to see. This was where it all began for these five players, the road that led to Dallas and - in a little under a year from now - Super Bowl LI.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Defensive End, 2014 2nd Round Pick (34th Overall)

Demarcus Tank Lawrence Monday Morning NFL camp work out

Demarcus Tank Lawrence Monday Morning NFL camp work out

Isn't it amazing how long ago 2014 was? DeMarcus Lawrence found himself being taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd Round of that Draft (after Dallas traded up to get him) as America's Team looked to fill the void left by another DeMarcus, who wasn't re-signed in Free Agency a month earlier.

"Tank" as Lawrence is known, has had a three-year career that very closely resembles a sin/cos curve. He's had moments that have been star-studded, plays where he's looked pedestrian, and a suspension that shortened his 2016 season. Lawrence's Scouting Combine performance was indeed three years ago, which means this season is a contract one for him. My how time flies!

Byron Jones, Safety, 2015 1st Round Pick (27th Overall)

Byron Jones (UConn, DB) | 2015 NFL Combine Highlights

Watch UConn DB Byron Jones set a world record at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Start your free trial of NFL Game Pass: https://www.nfl.com/gamepass?campaign=sp-nf-gd-ot-yt-3000342 Sign up for Fantasy Football! http://www.nfl.com/fantasyfootball The NFL YouTube channel is your home for immediate in-game highlights from your favorite teams and players, full NFL games, behind the scenes access and more!

There are players who perform so well at the combine that they get drafted a round or two ahead of projection, but then there are players that actually set world records at the NFL Scouting Combine! Byron Jones has always been an athletic freak, and that skillset was on display two years ago at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It's fascinating re-watching Byron Jones' combine highlights when you consider how the Cowboys have used him since he was taken at #27 Overall. He's been used at cornerback, safety, on special teams, and shown a robotic ability to correct apparent physical ailments. "Late Night Ice Cream" - as I've affectionately referred to Byron - locked down his first career interception in 2016, so the best is ahead even though what's behind in terms of his Combine footage is phenomenal.

La'el Collins, Guard, 2015 Undrafted Rookie Free Agent

2015 NFL Scouting Combine: La'el Collins full workout

LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins participates in the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine drills.

The 2015 NFL Draft was made all the more special for the Dallas Cowboys when Pro Football Hall of Famer turned on the Texas charm and swung the steal of the century in terms of Offensive Lineman La'el Collins.

As you'll remember, La'el had a very unique and unfortunate circumstance surface just before the Draft that caused teams to panic on his potential with their club. Collins went undrafted which left him no NFL options except to sign as an undrafted rookie free agent, putting him in a unique situation as a top rookie - the ability to choose his new team.

La'el Collins joined Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin to make the NFL's most formidable Offensive Line. That 80% of the line will be back and ready to take things to the next level in 2017, but it all began for La'el two years ago with some funny drills in weird outfits.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, 2016 1st Round Pick (4th Overall)

Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State, RB) | 2016 NFL Combine Highlights

Ezekiel Elliott, RB from Ohio State, showing that he's one of the best at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Subscribe to the NFL YouTube channel to see immediate in-game highlights from your favorite teams and players, daily fantasy football updates, all your favorite NFL Network podcasts, and more!

Ezekiel Elliott was the consensus top running back in the 2016 NFL Draft Class long before the NFL Scouting Combine, but he cemented that status in Indy and perhaps did so with Dallas Cowboys eyes glued to him and his every move. Zeke would go on to lead the NFL in rushing as a critical member of America's Team, and his elite talents during the Combine showed that this was always a possibility for him and his game.

Running backs like LSU's Leonard Fournette and Florida State's Dalvin Cook owe a serious debt of gratitude to Ezekiel Elliott as Zeke's 2016 season made drafting a running back early a fun and smart thing to do again. It all began here, and re-living it is a glorious practice for any member of Cowboys Nation.

Dak Prescott, Quarterback, 2016 4th Round Pick (135th Overall)

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You cannot be a team that challenges for the Super Bowl if you don't have a franchise quarterback. It's a rule that's not written down anywhere in the NFL except for the championship banners that hang across various stadiums.

The evaluation process for any NFL position is an incredibly difficult thing, but quarterbacks are their own freak of nature in this regard. The most renowned minds to ever study and evaluate this sport all miss on a guy from time to time, and that's what happened with Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott.

The NFL Scouting Combine isn't exactly an environment similar to an actual NFL game, and perhaps that's why people miss on certain players. You can only tell so much about a player watching him throw against air to guys he's never practiced with before. Whatever the case it's a great thing that when various sets of eyes saw this sampling of Dak Prescott they passed on him enough to let him fall into our laps, giving us stability at the most important position in sports for the next decade.

If you want to get excited about someone who could make this list a year from now, check out Staff Writer Brian Martin's 10 Defensive Ends to watch for at the NFL Combine.

Huzzah.

Tell us what you think about "Watch Current Cowboys Stars During Their Days At The NFL Scouting Combine" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Wide Receiver

Jess Haynie

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Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized? 1

The Dallas Cowboys' year in 2018 was marked by big moves at wide receiver. Dez Bryant was released in April and then a first-round pick was traded in October to add Amari Cooper. Could this 2019 offseason offer anything close to that level of activity?

Unlike last season, Dallas should enjoy some stability in its starting lineup at receiver. Cooper returns at a much higher price, with the $13.9 million cap hit from his fifth-year option coming into player. Amari cost just $412k against the Cowboys' salary cap last year.

That huge jump in cap cost may hurt but Cooper backed it up with his Pro Bowl play in 2018. The top WR contracts average $15-$17 million per year, so even now Dallas is arguably getting Amari at a bargain.

The Cowboys didn't give up a first-round pick for a year-and-a-half rental, so we can expect them to seek a long-term extension with Cooper in the near future. With the contracts of DeMarcus Lawrence and Dak Prescott more immediate concerns, any new deal for Amari probably won't come until the middle of the season or in 2020.

Not only is WR1 set for next year but Michael Gallup appears locked in as the other starter. Of his 68 targets last year, 40 came in the second half of the year. It was a great season for a third-round rookie, and there are high hopes for Gallup's development in his first full offseason.

The stability up front is a blessing for the Cowboys, but it doesn't relieve them of big decisions at the WR position this offseason. They face a particularly critical choice when it comes to the free agency of Cole Beasley.

Cole Beasley

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley

It's hard to believe Beasley's already been in Dallas for seven seasons. An undrafted gem, Cole has been one of the team's most reliable offensive players for some time. He led them in receiving in 2016 and has been one of the most efficient, QB-friendly options for the last several years.

Beasley's contract expiring this year is only one issue. He has become very vocal lately about wanting to be a bigger part of the offense. His targets dropped tremendously over the course of 2018, which was especially evident when Cole got just five total passes thrown his way in the two playoffs games.

If Beasley wants a larger role, does that also mean he wants more money? He was making a little over $3 million/season on his last deal.

With Gallup on a cheap rookie contract, Dallas could afford to pay raise Beasley's compensation a bit. But if they don't plan to use him more than they did last year, then perhaps the two parties just aren't a good fit at this point.

If Cole walks in free agency then the Cowboys will now have to find a new number-three receiver. The next best option would be Tavon Austin, but he is also a free agent. However, he could likely be re-signed for a fraction of what Beasley would want.

Austin has the physical skills to be an offensive weapon but he doesn't have the reliable hands that Beasley does. Even if Dallas wants Tavon back solely for his skills on punt returns, they may not be ready to make him a bigger part of the offense.

Could WR Noah Brown Help the Cowboys at Tight End?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown

One option might be promoting Noah Brown, whose at times has reminded us of a young Dez Bryant with his physical playing style. His blocking ability would lend itself to the single-back formations Dallas likes to run out of, and he's flashed some good hands in limited opportunities.

In that scenario Amari Cooper would likely play out of the slot, which he's certainly capable of with his quickness. The same would be done if Dallas went with another internal solution, such as Allen Hurns or Terrance Williams.

That said, the Cowboys are unlikely to pick up the second-year option on Hurns' contract, not wanting to pay him over $6 million in 2019 after last year's low production.  It also doesn't seem likely that they want to keep Williams after last year's issues.

Taking all of that into consideration, Dallas may very well be doing some WR shopping in free agency. Fortunately for them, it's a favorable market if you're looking for a slot receiver.

On top of Beasley and Austin already in the free agent pool, Golden Tate could at least match Cole's play if not potentially offer an upgrade. Baltimore's John Brown, Tampa's Adam Humphries, and Washington's Jamison Crowder are all other proven options. Emmanuel Sanders, while not currently a free agent, is a very possible cap casualty for the Broncos.

Guys like Humphries and Crowder are younger than Beasley and could provide better long-term value on their contract. That may be a more attractive option at this point for the Cowboys.

Lance Lenoir

Dallas Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir

Dallas won't need to add a lot of bodies at WR thanks to a few young prospects. They still have Lance Lenoir and Cedrick Wilson under contract, plus signed 2015 second-round pick Devin Smith as a potential rehabilitation project.

But again, these guys are all just bodies right now. Lenoir has had his opportunities and not done much with them, though he does offer some value as a potential return man. Wilson spent his rookie season on injured reserve.

The Cowboys could still look at a receiver with one of their mid-round draft picks, but it's hard to get much production early there. Last year's play from Michael Gallup was a surprise for a third-rounder.

It's far more likely that Dallas will either work things out with Cole Beasley or pursue a veteran replacement in free agency.

So no, thankfully, we don't have to worry about any monumental changes at the top of the WR depth chart in 2019. But Beasley was more than just a third receiver, and keeping or replacing him will have a significant impact on the offense going forward.

If Dallas is truly ready to commit to Dak Prescott as the quarterback of the future then they can't take anything about his receiving options lightly. Therefore, wide receiver remains an important offseason focus for the Cowboys in 2019.



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Defense, Not Offense, Should Be Dallas Cowboys Offseason Focus

John Williams

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Last week our own Brian Martin asked whether offense or defense should be the priority for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. We know that the team will look to make some additions on both sides of the football to help their team take the next step toward hopefully contending for a Lombardi Trophy in 2019.

Brian took the stance that the Cowboys front office brain trust of Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay along with Head Coach Jason Garrett should prioritize the offensive side of the football.

Here’s what he had to say:

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys really don't have any glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball either. After finishing as one of the top defensive units in 2018, they will have nearly all of their starters returning for the 2019 season. But much like on the offensive side of the ball, there could be two starting spots up for grabs...

...If Cole Beasley does indeed leave via free agency, that's a big blow to the passing game. But, it's not just him. Other than their rushing attack, the Cowboys offense was ranked in the bottom half of the league in nearly every other category. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan now gone we can hope that improves, but that doesn't mean improving the offense shouldn't be the Cowboys main offseason focus though.

Brian Martin - Inside The Star

I get his reasoning, though I disagree with the first point being made. Yes, the defense has a lot of really good players that are developing, but I think there a couple obvious areas where upgrades can be made. First, at safety, where Jeff Heath continues to be a frustrating player, as evidenced by the final play against the Rams. Secondly, the defensive tackle spot could definitely use an infusion of talent.

I believe the priority needs to continue to build on a defense that was surprisingly good, and downright dominant in their win over the New Orleans Saints, in 2018. However, despite finishing sixth in the NFL in points allowed, seventh in yards allowed, and fifth in rushing yards allowed, they were middle of the pack against the pass and had the sixth worst third down conversion percentage allowed.

They were a defense that got away with being excellent against the run and excellent in the red zone, allowing a touchdown only 51% of the time their opponent reached the red zone. They allowed the sixth fewest touchdowns in the NFL, and yet when they got into the playoffs, they weren’t nearly as good.

Sure, they held the Seattle Seahawks top ranked rushing attack in check for the game, holding them to only 73 rushing yards. The Seahawks threw for only 226 yards, but there offensive staff was insistent on running the football even though Russell Wilson was playing pretty well in the second half. The Seahawks were hitting the Cowboys for big plays that allowed them to make the game closer than it should have been. Had they tilted the run-pass ratio a bit more to put the ball in Russell Wilson's hands earlier in the game, it's possible that the game has a different outcome.

Against the Rams, we saw the Dallas Cowboys interior get bullied while both CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley rushed for more than 100 yards. Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods were good for a lot of the year as the primary defensive tackles for the Dallas Cowboys, but with them ailing because of injury and illness, the Cowboys didn't have many answers for the Rams offensive interior. Their ineffectiveness in the divisional round led to Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee being generally ineffective as well.

While the Dallas Cowboys can feel pretty good about what the defense did last season, there's no way they can go into the 2019 season satisfied with what they'll be working with. In addition to playing the their NFC East opponents twice, with the Eagles and Giants able to score points and the Redskins typically a tough matchup, they'll play the New England Patriots, the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, the New Orleans Saints, and the Detroit Lions. All of those teams are capable of scoring a lot of points if the defense isn't having its best day. Throw in teams like the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Chicago Bears, and you have three young offenses that are growing and fully capable of scoring points as well.

The Dallas Cowboys front office has to go into the offseason ready to make upgrades to their defensive personnel. With the safeties that are available this offseason -- Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Tre Boston, Tyrann Mathieu, and several other intriguing names -- the Cowboys will have an opportunity to upgrade the safety position. Between the draft and free agency, defensive tackle will be a high priority position for the Cowboys.

I know that many are looking at the offense and the steps that they need to make moving forward to be legit contenders, and they do have some improvements to make, but they look to be a unit that is trending in the right direction. Some better coaching for Dak Prescott and the offense should help them moving forward. A full offseason for Dak to work with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz should improve the chemistry between Prescott and his top receiving threats.

Yes, there are areas that need to be upgraded on offense and they may have to deal with filling the gap left by Cole Beasley if he does leave. The front office, however, can't go into the offseason satisfied with where they sit on the defensive side of the football. They are building something and are a couple of pieces away from having a truly elite defense. Finding those couple of pieces -- a safety and a pass rushing defensive tackle -- are of the utmost priority this offseason if the Dallas Cowboys want to head back to the postseason in 2019.



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