Things are happening at a quicker pace with the NFL draft just a few weeks away now. A look at the latest news and how it just might impact who Dallas drafts and why.
Cowboys Sign Detroit Lions free agent LB, Justin Durant:
Currently the Cowboys actually don’t have salary cap space to sign Durant yet but it is expected to come when they work long term deals with Spencer and Romo. Going to a 4-3 defense, it’s expected to have Carter and Lee at LBs but kind of up in the air as far as the Will LB spot. Durant a veteran, gives them a solid option now that Dan Connor was released.
Durant had 103 tackles last season (a career high) and was ranked 8th best LB in the NFL in 2012 by Pro Football Focus.
My Take: Now I don’t look for Dallas to draft a LB with any of their six picks in the draft. With Durant, they have added depth at least and maybe even a starter at LB. Considering the Cowboys are a team with very limited money to spend in free agency, Durant is a good pick up and considered an upgrade over Connor.
Cowboys bring in prospects:
Earlier I blogged of the players Dallas has brought in to meet and take a closer look. HERE. Of the visitors, so far three of them are potential first round picks, safety Kenny Viccaro, guard Chance Warmack, and OT D.J. Fluker.
The Cowboys need a starting guard in a bad way so getting Warmack would be a good draft pick however looking at the mocks and prospect rankings, I don’t think Warmack will be available at #18. OT Fluker is a late first round prospect and it’s very likely that he will be available for Dallas at #18. Vaccaro would fill a big need at safety but may or may not be available at #18. It’s going to be close with him.
The Cowboys secondary coach, Gerald Henderson, gave Vaccaro a workout during his visit but it was cut short due to a hip flexor issue. The Bengals also worked out Viccaro but they pick at #21 in the draft later than Dallas. More on Vaccaro…
Kenny Vaccaro has his Texas Pro Day:
On Tuesday March 26, Texas had their pro day and offered another look at safety Vaccaro. Well at least a partial workout for Vaccaro. Due to his hip flexor, Vaccaro had a partial workout and did not run the 40 which many scouts wanted to see since he had a slightly disappointing 4.63/40 time at the combine.
My Take: Vaccaro impresses on video and moves quick enough to cover WRs and delivers a nice pop in run support often causing fumbles. His body of work while playing at Texas, should out weigh his combine numbers and workouts. I think a little too much is being made of the 40 time. More and more mocks have the Cowboys selecting Vaccaro at #18 and for now, I think that’s who Dallas will take if he is available. He will improve their run and pass defense and be a nice fit in Kiffin’s Tampa 2.
Safety free agent Michael Huff visits Cowboys:
The Cowboys brought in FA safety Michael Huff to take a look. However they didn’t sign him and Huff moved on to other scheduled visits. Huff who is originally from the Dallas area, played safety and CB for the Raiders and was bothered with injuries last season. In 2012, he had 56 tackles and 2 INTs.
My Take: With salary cap challenges, it’s not clear if Dallas intends to sign Huff. All indications are he had a good visit but with visits to the Packers and Ravens ahead, another team may sign him. If Dallas signs Huff, it could be after the draft and based on what safety they are able or not able, to get in the draft. Huff may be a little insurance policy so to speak, but he may not be available for long. UPDATE: HUFF SIGNED BY RAVENS
DE Marcus Spears signs with the Ravens:
The Cowboys parted ways with Spears who joined the super bowl champ Ravens.
My take: I thought the Cowboys would give Spears a shot at playing DT in the new 4-3 since that was his position at LSU. By all accounts, Spears appeared to be a high character, good locker room guy, and I thought he just might excel at DT better than he did at DE.
As a former first round pick, Spears career with Dallas has been disappointing but perhaps he wasn’t at the right position in trying to play DE in a 3-4. Evidently the super bowl champ Ravens are thinking that anyway.
Draft: Many mocks have had the Cowboys selecting a Defensive tackle in the first round. With Spears gone, I think they will draft a DT but not in the first round since they have more pressing needs. They can actually get a good DT that can fit into their rotation in about the 3rd round or so.
-Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro appears to be high on the list of Cowboys potential first round picks.
-Drafting an OT and an OG would appear to be a high priority for Dallas as well.
-Adding LB Justin Durant was a solid pick up and makes drafting a LB not necessary.
-Releasing Marcus Spears makes drafting a DT more likely but in the middle of the draft I think.