IRVING, Texas -- Five Wonders is back for its offseason debut.
The weekly staple during the regular season moves to an intermittent role in the offseason, but after a few weeks off and draft talk already dominating the scene, it is time to wonder.
Away we go:
I wonder how much business will get done for the Cowboys while in Mobile, Alabama, during the Senior Bowl. The Cowboys will be on the lookout for a defensive backs coach with Jerome Henderson’s departure, and the Senior Bowl is a coaches convention of sorts so there will be chances to interview coaches. The Cowboys have a number of free agents and could use the time to start potential talks about re-signing a handful of players. And then there is the draft where teams can hold informal meetings with prospects. Another thing to look for: highly-thought-of underclassmen at the practice week to meet with front-office types and coaches. Agents are always looking for ways to get their players in front of teams.
I see the Denver Broncos get Owen Daniels free twice for touchdowns of 21 and 12 yards in the AFC Championship Game, and I also see Greg Olsen work the middle of the field for the Carolina Panthers for 113 yards on six receptions in the NFC title game, and I wonder, ‘Why can’t the Cowboys do that with Jason Witten?’ Don’t bring up Witten’s age. He remains close to the same player he was five years ago. Witten averaged 9.3 yards per carry, but I think that was more a product of the routes he ran than the routes he can’t run. The Cowboys offense needs to come up with chunk plays and one sure fire way to do that is using play action. The Cowboys did not use it often. Maybe it all falls on the quarterback play behind Tony Romo, but they simply didn’t use Witten the right way. We hear the coaches tell us how Witten still has it. Well, use him that way then.
The Cowboys will be in the market for a quarterback either in free agency, the draft or both. I’m on record that once it gets past the third round, there really isn’t a need to draft a quarterback. The hit ratio is not good. And I don’t think developing a quarterback really takes place these days, but for the sake of argument I’ll bring up a name: Cardale Jones. I wonder if there is enough talent there to make it worth taking a chance on him, especially if they don’t go with a quarterback in the first two rounds. He has size. He can throw it a mile. He can move. He’s not coming from the most NFL-ready offense at Ohio State but could he be somebody worth looking at in that developmental role?
The Cowboys will coach the North team at the Senior Bowl. I do have one player from the South team I’m anxious to see: Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence. He started his career at Ohio State and had eight sacks before he was kicked out of school and the Big Ten because of drug issues. I wonder if the Cowboys would have him on their draft board come May, but the talent is unquestioned. The issues can be resolved and maybe he is on the right track after leaving the Buckeyes. The Cowboys need a pass rusher. Seeing Spence in three days of practice this week might make him a highly-sought-after prospect.
I wonder how many players from the Senior Bowl will eventually end up making their way to the Cowboys in some form or fashion. Since 2011, the Cowboys have drafted seven players that played in the Senior Bowl: DeMarco Murray (2011), Dwayne Harris (2011), J.J Wilcox (2013), B.W. Webb (2013), Terrance Williams (2013), Zack Martin (2014) and Ahmad Dixon (2014). They signed La’el Collins (2015) as an undrafted free agent, and he became a starter. There are 13 other players that have spent time with the Cowboys in training camp, on a practice squad or on the active roster that played in the Senior Bowl from 2011-15. This is another sign that coaching the North team this week should be a big advantage in the evaluation game.