Monday, March 7, 2016

Draft Nuggets Blog #11 for KTCK The Ticket in Dallas

Draft Nuggets 2016: Entry #11
By Jeff Bowers of

Free Agency Targets

The 2016 NFL Season officially gets underway on March 9th, and that means the start of free agency. The Cowboys enter the free agency period in much better shape on the salary cap than in recent history and with the flexibility to create even more space with little risk. Ideally, teams would like to find success in free agency that allows them to enter the draft truly seeking “the best player available” and needing to fill few starter spots.  With Rick “The Goose” Gosselin as our guide, here is a look at potential free agents UNDER THE AGE OF 30 that could help fill some of the holes on the Cowboys roster:

1.       Brock Osweiler, Age 26 – Looking for big starter money
2.       Robert Griffin III, Age 26 – Injury concerns make him a boom/bust gamble
3.       Case Keenum, Age 28 – Likely to remain w/ Rams as stopgap to a rookie
4.       Chase Daniel, Age 29 – Let go by KC, Daniel could be looking for a chance to start
5.       Colt McCoy, Age 29 – Washington would like to retain as insurance

Best Choice for Dallas – Colt McCoy
McCoy seems like a perfect fit behind Romo as an insurance policy who could grasp this system and help develop a younger QB as well. The question will be the price and if they get the opportunity to outbid Washington on the 9th.

Running Backs:
1.       Doug Martin, Age 27 – Up and down career is why he is available from TB
2.       Lamar Miller, Age 25 – Reports that he wants $5-$6 mil/year and Miami and Dallas are hesitant
3.       Alfred Morris, Age 27 – Morris is not a good fit and needs to go to a zone blocking scheme
4.       Bilal Powell, Age 27 – Powell is more of a complimentary back than a lead, much like McFadden
5.       Ronnie Hillman, Age 24 – Though his age is enticing, Hillman fumbles too much for my tastes

Best Choice for Dallas – Lamar Miller
Reports that the Cowboys balked at the 5-6 million per year range are troubling, but now so have the Dolphins. If Dallas can land Miller around 4-4.5 million, that would be a coup.

Wide Receivers:
1.       Marvin Jones, Age 26 – Jones is a solid #2 WR whose arrow still points up
2.       Travis Benjamin, Age 26 – With return abilities and deep speed, Benjamin should get paid well
3.       Rishard Matthews, Age 26 – Matthews was a production dream, except for injury concerns
4.       Mohamed Sanu, Age 27 – Sanu is a jack-of-all-trades with size and speed
5.       Jermaine Kearse, Age 26 – Constantly underrated, this Hawks WR can prove his worth as a #2/#3

Best Choice for Dallas – Travis Benjamin
If Dallas decides to spend FA money at WR, Benjamin would be a great choice. His speed and return ability could ease pressure on the roster as a whole and allow Terrance Williams to matchup versus smaller slot CBs on downfield routes (an emerging trend in the NFL: large slot WRs)

Defensive Ends:
1.       Adrian Clayborn, Age 28 – Clayborn is ready to cash in after his 1 year “prove it” deal in Atl
2.       Jason Pierre Paul, Age 27 – His lack of a hand led to only 1 sack in 2015.
3.       Derrick Shelby, Age 27 – Shelby emerged last year replacing Cameron Wake in Miami
4.       Quinton Coples, Age 26 – Coples has never been in the right scheme as a RDE in a 4-3
5.       Charles Johnson, Age 30 – I violate my 30 year old rule because Johnson is that good

Best Choice for Dallas – Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby
With Hardy’s departure, Gregory’s suspension and Lawrence’s back, the Cowboys are desperate at the DE spot. Clayborn appears to be a high target for Dallas and could play on either side, as could Shelby. Signing both would not be out of the question

Defensive Tackles:
1.       Malik Jackson, Age 26 – Jackson is in line for BIG money
2.       Damon Harrison, Age 27 – Harrison is a classic NT in a 3-4 and not a fit in Dallas
3.       Nick Fairley, Age 28 – If the Cowboys are willing to gamble on problem people, Fairley has talent
4.       Akiem Hicks, Age 26 – Hicks has been ok as a 3-4 DE, but might play better at the 3 tech
5.       Kendall Reyes, Age 26 – Reyes never lived up to his 2nd rd pick, but still has upside

Best Choice for Dallas – Kendall Reyes
If Dallas decides to spend money on a DT (maybe unlikely with such great depth at that spot in the draft) Reyes might be a quality project to get at a reasonable cost. Dallas liked him in the draft 4 years ago.

1.       Danny Trevathan, Age 26 – Trevathan anchored that Broncos D and is about to get paid
2.       Tahir Whitehead, Age 26 – Whitehead became a solid cover LB for Detroit
3.       Mark Barron, Age 26 – The former safety was shifted to cover LB and excelled for the Rams
4.       Vincent Rey, Age 28 – Rey struggled on the outside last season and might be better at MLB
5.       Rolando McClain, Age 27 – Despite 4 games suspension, McClain rounded into form for Dallas

Best Choice for Dallas – Rolando McClain
If the Cowboys continue to be cheap at LB, bringing back McClain and crossing your fingers is probably your best bet. Though I also expect a LB to be selected sometime in the draft

1.       Casey Heyward, Age 26 – I can’t believe the Packers would let him loose. Heyward is very solid
2.       Janoris Jenkins, Age 27 – With off-field concerns (hopefully) behind him, Jenkins is a #1 cover CB
3.       Sean Smith, Age 29 – Though 29, Smith has been amazing for KC and a quality #2 CB
4.       Prince Amukamara, Age 27 – Amukamara has struggled with injuries and the NY media
5.       Morris Claiborne, Age 26 – Claiborne finally was healthy and played solid, but not spectacular

Best Choice for Dallas – Casey Heyward
Despite getting little return for their last venture into free agency at CB (Brandon Carr), Heyward would be a prime fit in this scheme with his size, physicality and cover skills. Though it might be pricey, the Cowboys need to improve this area of the team dramatically.

1.       George Iloka, Age 26 – Iloka is a big box safety. Dallas already has 2 of those.
2.       Tashaun Gipson, Age 26 – Coming of a down year, Gipson could be a nice value for someone
3.       Walter Thurmond, Age 29 – Thurmond had a nice retrenching in Philly, but is marginal at best
4.       Rodney McLeod, Age 26 – Though improved, McLeod is replacement level at safety
5.       Isa Abdul-Quddus, Age 27 – He came on late for Det last year and showed promise

Best Choice for Dallas – None

It looks as though Dallas will shift Byron Jones to FS and let Wilcox focus more on special teams. Though some depth in the draft is wise, this should help Dallas on the back end.

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