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AFC assistant: Cowboys would be wise to draft a QB early

IRVING, Texas – The scouting combine ended Monday in Indianapolis, which means up next in the draft process will be pro days across the country and endless speculation as to what the Dallas Cowboys will do with the fourth overall pick.

Before we say goodbye to the combine, here are some picked-up pieces during a six-day stay in Indianapolis:

• A big topic has been and will be whether the Cowboys will take a quarterback with the fourth overall pick. One longtime AFC coach told me it would be the best thing to do and to take North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz if he is there and let him watch and learn from Tony Romo.

• AN NFC offensive coordinator said he would rank the quarterbacks the following way: Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch. He said Wentz needs some time but has all the tools to be great.

• If the Cowboys don’t take a quarterback in the first round then where do they go? My personal opinion is that if you don’t take a quarterback in the top three rounds then forget about taking one altogether. The chances of a late-round pick developing doesn’t happen with enough frequency. But the Cowboys spoke with Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott at the combine after meeting with him and the other South quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl for an hour. The Cowboys did not meet with the quarterbacks on their roster in the Senior Bowl, feeling they got to know them well enough during the week. Prescott could be an interesting option.

• I think the Cowboys will use Byron Jones at safety in 2016. I don’t know that for sure, though. The door is being kept open for him as a cornerback. Does that mean they make a play for a free agent?

• Last year the Cowboys had a running back need and did not select a runner in the draft. The need remains this year and the feeling is that the Cowboys will look for a runner in round 2. 3 or 4. One name to keep an eye on is Cal’s Daniel Lasco. He had the best broad jump and vertical jump. Injuries hurt his 2015 season but he had more than 1,000 yards in 2014 to go with 12 touchdowns.

• Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus has a big fan in an NFC defensive coordinator. The coordinator is intrigued as to Eberflus’ new defensive passing game coordinator title and believes Eberflus can be a defensive coordinator in the future.

• Jerry Jones spoke as if Lance Dunbar will be back with the Cowboys in 2016. So did Stephen Jones. Dunbar was off to a terrific start in 2015 before suffering a serious knee injury against the New Orleans Saints. His market could be limited and a one-year deal in order to show he can contribute again makes sense. It wasn’t just a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered. He also suffered a torn patellar tendon.

• A couple of agents for Cowboys players were a little frustrated at the team’s slow pace in talks during the week. The Cowboys are smart not to be too aggressive and they don’t want to establish a market for a player, but with so much money available in free agency everybody will get more than a team wants to pay.

• Several agents with free agent tight ends were asking if the Cowboys would be looking for some help behind Jason Witten. Gavin Escobar has a torn Achilles, and James Hanna is a free agent. The Cowboys want to keep Hanna, and finding a tight end these days in the draft is tricky.

• The Cowboys have found defensive ends such as George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey in free agency the last couple of years, and they found some success in Dallas. I wonder if Adrian Clayborn could be another. After injuries plagued him in 2013 and ’14 with Tampa Bay, he played in every game last year with the Atlanta Falcons and had three sacks. The Cowboys had some interest in him last year as a free agent.

• The fascination with the Cowboys' bus among media types and even other teams seems to know no bounds. The Cowboys do things in an over-the-top fashion everywhere. The bus is another example. They just need to get over it. It’s a bus. A really nice bus, but still a bus.