Christmas time in April and I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this post. It’s an exciting time of year for not only the fans but the league as well. I have had the blessing to spend this time of year in the past with scouts and NFL teams and got to see firsthand the hard work but also the pure enjoyment that scouts, front-office people and the prospects get out of this process. Unfortunately due to cut back because of the labor strike some of the work I would have had in past years was not available and thus, I perhaps may be lacking in some of the information I would typically have available this time of year. With that said, my Cowboys connections are strong and once again, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the direction the Cowboys are looking to take. I would like to touch on a few of those and answer as many questions as I can. You will notice some of my information parallels that of Hostile’s post. He has helped me out greatly and while we have totally different sources of information I tend to bounce a lot off of him and when we have two stories that jive, it just solidifies the information for me. Once again, I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your questions. First thing I would like to address is the general approach the Cowboys are taking in this draft. From sources I have spoken to it seems the Cowboys want to focus on OL, DL and DB. With no free agency period the Cowboys are placed in quandary as is every team on who of their own FA’s can they resign and can they fill positions when FA does start? I have no doubt from what I’m told if this was like any other off season we would already have our RT on the roster. I’m also certain we would already have our FS and SS being Michael Huff and Gerald Sensanbaugh. Now read into this what you will about Tyron Smith but for me it comes down to if the Cowboys want to roll the dice and see if they can get their choice of a vet RT or do they address the situation now and Tyron Smith? This is one of the many things I will touch on as I break down the 3 most likely scenario’s Dallas will take come draft day based on multiple sources and reports. TRADING UP: If you would have asked me two weeks ago or even 1 week ago I would given the odds of the Cowboys trading up for Patrick Peterson or any prospect a less than 10% chance of happening. Now, due to recent information I have received I think the odds have increased but not significantly but this is not due in large part to the Cowboys wanting to trade up and willingness to do so but more of a result of circumstance in front of them. In order for a trade up to happen a few things would need to fall into place. Patrick Peterson must fall to #5 @ Arizona and/or #6 @ Cleveland. Dallas will not move up higher than 5th. I have been told they have explored the option at 4 and the price was too much. Weeks ago I reported the Cowboys have had significant talks with the Browns about the #6 pick and recently have been given verification that those talks we very serious and there are several scenario’s where the Browns would feel comfortable trading down to 9 and the frame work for that deal is already laid out. Also recently I was informed by Hos and later verified with a source that the Cowboys have indeed held discussions with the Cardinals about the 5th pick but I’m told the details were very narrow and the circumstances to make it attractive and comfortable for the Cardinals are not likely. STAYING PUT: The more and more I dig the less likely I find the chances are the Cowboys will stay put at 9 but if they do I’m still 70% certain the choice will be Tyron Smith with 10% being Cameron Jordan, 10% JJ Watt and the wild card at the remaining 10% Anthony Castanzo. With Castanzo you need to remember up until recently he was just about the top rated OT on every teams board and while I don’t try to pretend I direct access to the Cowboys board everything I’m hearing about teams that I do have solid sources says that he is still is. I find it hard to discount the fact that for so long the Cowboys were VERY high of Anthony and then suddenly you don’t hear anything. Sometimes more is said by what’s not said. I’m not going to put a lot of energy into scenario’s and option at 9 because I’m becoming that certain the Cowboys won’t be picking there. TRADE DOWN: This is where things get interesting and is what the volume of my daily updates from sources seems to point to. It’s also where I vary with Hos on the percentages. I can confirm with certainty that the Cowboys have had discussions and laid the groundwork for a deal with the Houston Texans at #11 who I’m told are set to move up for either Aldon Smith or Cameron Jordan and the St. Louis Rams at #14 who despite reports are not interested in moving up have contacted 3 of the 4 teams between picks 6 and 10. Most recently I have also been told the Cowboys have spoken to the Patriots who have been active lately trying to gauge the market value to move up. Interesting enough I’m told the Cowboys are the only team the Patriots have contacted in the top 10. I’m sorry I don’t have many details on what was discussed. A few days ago I was also told there is a team selecting in the early 20’s who made a very attractive proposal and was willing to pull the trigger now but Jerry put it in his back pocket. I’m sorry; this source was not from the Cowboys but from another team and asked that I don’t share the name of the team. I consider this source VERY reliable otherwise I would not say anything with such limited detail. In addition to the above possibilities I was told yesterday that the Cowboys have received no less than 8 calls on the #9 selection and may have just as much interest in the #40 pick in Round 2 but I’ll touch on that later. First I would like to discuss possible targets in these trade down scenario’s. The first two I want to discuss are the most solid ones with the Texans and Rams. A trade down with the Texans would only likely net a 4th round pick and perhaps an additional 6th or 7th in return but it might put Dallas in a great spot. At #11 they could very well still have their pick of Smith, Jordan, Watt or Castonzo. It also would present the opportunity to flip the pick once again in a trade down. A trade down with the Rams would likely net a 3rd round pick. Although It would likely take the Cowboys out of the running for Smith it might put them into a position they favor with Castonzo or Watt while netting a 3rd round pick and giving them flexibility in the 2nd and 3rd rounds to move up or down. Now I’m told Jerry would very much like to add an additional 2nd round pick which might lead me to believe a drop further then the Rams at #14. I can’t see a drop much further so I have to believe this would only come via a team willing to pay a little extra to get their man at 9. With that in mind, don’t discount the San Diego Chargers. They have been quietly making calls in a effort to move up and I’m sure Norv’s old Boss Jerry Jones would be more than willing to listen for the right price and the Chargers are 1 of only 2 teams with multiple 2nd round picks. PROSPECTS: We have discussed the 1st round possibilities and everyone knows what they are, I would like to touch on the 2nd round and on. ROUND 2: I’m going to parrot Hostiles mention of Andy Dalton. I know we have our non-believers but if there was one thing I’m certain on regarding this whole draft it’s that Jason Garrett loves Andy Dalton and has the staffs support on the issue. I have my doubts Dalton even sniffs round 2 let alone pick #40 but if he should I want to prepare Cowboys who are against it. It might be time to hide the remotes and the family. You’re not in for a good day. 2 weeks ago Hos and I talked about this and we both expressed doubt that Dallas would take him at 40. Due to some news I received today, I would shocked if they did not. I would be even more shocked if Dallas traded down and he was on the board at 40 if they did not make the pick. I’m sorry folks, I’m that certain if the Cowboys can get him without trading back into Round 1, they will. Dalton aside, there are other players the Cowboys like. If the Cowboys go RT in Round 1 you can look to players like Rahim Moore of UCLA and Aaron Williams of Texas. Also, any DE that drops could be a prime target. The Cowboys really like Cameron Heyward and Muhammad Wilkerson both of which I don’t see making it out of Round 1 but if they do they become very viable options. I’m also told if even if Dallas takes a RT in round 1 we should not discount the chance they look OL again in Round 2. The name that keeps coming up in discussions is OG Danny Watkins. Now should Dallas trade up for Peterson I’m certain this pick will go to the offensive line and at that point you look to any of the OT’s that have slipped. Also if Dallas trades up for Peterson I would be shocked if the Cowboys don’t trade down in Round 2 which I’m starting to believe unless there is falling player they are in love with might not be the MO anyways. Two names to keep an eye on that have not received much attention from the media are OC Rodney Hudson and OG Clint Boiling. ROUND 3: In the 3rd round it appears the Cowboys will address the OL or DL despite what they do in the first 2 rounds. As we get later in the draft scenarios are too much to cook up. In this round and the remaining draft I’ll look to name a few players the Cowboys have come away very impressed with according to sources and to give you a few names the Cowboys have quietly under the radar expressed interest in. In the 3rd round as I stated I believe the Cowboys will return to the trenches on either side of the line. Two names to keep an eye on are DT Kenrick Ellis and OL Will Rackley. Both players impressed in their workouts and the Cowboys came out raving about them. Also in addition to names that have been mentioned here and in the media the past week keep an eye on CB Johnny Patrick who the Cowboys like as a Safety convert and CB DeMarcus Van Dyke who the Cowboys quietly have become enamored with and is likely to be drafted higher than most project. ROUND 4: OLB Ross Homan is a player the Cowboys have spent a lot of film time on in recent weeks and love his size/speed ratio. Matter of fact Homan is a player a lot of 3-4 teams have begun to express interest in as the draft approaches. ROUND 5: RB Stevan Ridley is a player I could have also included in the Round 4 discussion. I have received information in the last 24 hours that is leading me to believe that this may be as close to a 2nd day lock as I could name this far in advance. The Cowboys have spent a lot of time in the draft process on Ridley and Jason Garrett has some people close to him with firsthand knowledge of the kid. Dallas spent a lot of time talking with him about the H-Back role and believes he offers some value not only as a blocker but he displayed decent hands at LSU but underutilized in the passing game. OC Jake Kirkpatrick: The Cowboys have been focuses on and have failed to land a center in each draft for the last couple years. It appears Jake is again this year’s favorite. I have spoken to a few people who believe the Cowboys may even reach a little for him to guarantee they get him. OG Keith Williams: The Cowboys like this kids hardnosed attitude. He was a late addition to the scouting process and I’m not sure how much interest is here but something made them put on the last minute press. ROUND 6: WR Ricardo Lockett: I must admit, I don’t see the connection here. Despite having world class speed and offering the “wow” factor in the return game Lockett is far too inconsistent as a WR to be considered and does seem to be what the Cowboys need or want but I’m told there is significant interest here in the later rounds. TE Lee Smith: This is a interesting name because I’m told the Cowboys possibly see Smith in a dual role. His size at 6’6” and 278 make you think he’s a project OL in the making and you would be right. That’s an attraction for the Cowboys but even at his size he can still put up a 4.7 forty and displays great hands for a big man. I’m told Garrett is enamored with the possibilities. Coupled with Ridley I’m starting to believe Gronks days are numbered. OT Byron Stingily: A very athletic yet raw OT the Cowboys have quietly been courting. Few people know that Hudson Houck has attended and interviewed Byron at every workout possible. Now he was never invited for a personal but then again, that may say more about their interest then the other way around. OLB Jonas Mouton: Another quiet favorite among the 3-4 teams. He wont knock you out with numbers but his production is unquestioned. A high character, high motor guy I’m told new LB coach Elberfus displayed a particular interest in this kid. ROUND 7: FB Dial Preston: Yet another FB option which makes me believe the Cowboys will look to add at least another body to challenge Gronk. In Preston do you not only have the visit but you also have the Nick Saban connection. You can bet Garrett knows all he needs to know about this kid. TE Stephen Skelton: This one holds a little personal feel to it. I know Skelton personally and spent a lot of time scouting the kid before the lockout going back to his JR season. The Cowboys actually sent Jay Novacek to 2 of his games personally. It helps that Jay also has a nephew on the team. A bit raw as a receiving prospect Skelton is a fine blocker and yet again, we find the Cowboys looking at someone that can fill the H-Back role. DE Zane Parr: There always seems to be a Virgina connection to a Cowboys draft, esp on defense. Parr is the protypical 3-4 DE. Garrett has his ties to Virginia and it seems from what I told Parr would be a priority UDFA but because of the labor situation I’m told that the Cowboys would love to spend the extra 7th they got from the league on this kid and eliminate the bidding war when it finally begins. CB Korey Lindsey: I could have named him in the 6th as well. Another late addition to the draft process for the Cowboys I’m told they were tipped off by Garrett’s father regarding this kid and have taken a significant interest in him. ADDITIONAL DRAFT NOTES: One priority seems to be from what I’m told is to add another return specialist in this draft. Garrett would not be afraid to keep leaning on Dez but he is no fool either. I’m told you can bet at some point the Cowboys take a player who offers that dimension in the return game. Based on what I have heard, keep an eye on Cecil Shorts III. As it is now I’m told it’s not out of the question that the Cowboys select a kicker in the 6th or 7th round. I’m sure this is not welcome news to many but as my source said, the Cowboys could very well open camp with a 4 kicker competition. FREE AGENCY: Based on multiple reports I’m 99% certain Marion Barber will be cut once the league gets rolling again. While the Cowboys are very high on Lonyae Miller they will look to bring in competition. Roy Williams is not going anywhere, I have been told by a very trusted source that the Cowboys have nothing to gain by his release and are in a much better spot next year should they decide to do it then. Garrett still is very much in favor of Williams and I’m told we can expect a very different roll for him this year. Don’t be surprised if we open camp with the same starting 5 along the offensive line. I’m told resigning Kosier is a high priority and before the lockout they were close on a deal. Columbo will be given every chance to heal and reclaim his position under Mike Woick. While I’m told camp will be an absolute battle to claim the RT and RG position despite moves made in the offseason we should not discount either of last year’s starters. Every person I talk to says if they had to name a stone cold lock when FA begins it would be that Michael Huff will be brought in soon after the gates are open. As I was told by a source close to the family, the full court press is on by family and friends long before the Cowboys can even talk to him. It seems a return home is almost all but guaranteed. CONCLUSION: I’ll be releasing my final Cowboys mock on Thursday morning. If I hear anything new between now and then and I’ll be sure to share with you all. If anyone has any questions I’ll do my best to get to each one of you. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.