Top 5 Cowboys Free Agency Targets

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The Cowboys are entering the 2016 NFL off season  with more needs than draft picks. They not only have multiple positions lacking depth, but several key players are entering free agency.

eric berry 2016 cowboys free agency target

I normally discourage being too active in free agency because more times than not, you end up over-paying for avg NFL starters. However, as the result of failing to hit on mid to late round draft picks in recent years, and/or an inability to develop players, the Cowboys have some major depth issues.

The Cowboys enter free agency this off season with glaring needs along the defensive line, the offensive line, in the secondary, at running back and wide receiver. The national media would like you to believe that the Cowboys biggest need is at quarterback, but I am here to tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.

Tony RomoTony Romo gives the Cowboys the best chance of getting to and winning a Super Bowl. His back is healthier than it has been in 3 years and his Clavicle injury was on the opposite side of his throwing arm. 90% of playing QB in the NFL is mental. This is why you see guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Hasselbeck still playing at a high level despite being older than Romo.

If the Cowboys want any chance of getting to the big show before the window closes on Jason Witten and Tony Romo, the front office needs to build a championship team around them. In order to do that, they need to fill some holes in free agency so they can enter the draft with the ability to draft the best player available rather than feeling the need to reach out of desperation.

Especially when this draft has the weakest quarterback class I have seen in a decade. I will maintain my stance that there is not a QB in this class that is better qualified than Kellen Moore to be the backup moving forward. I firmly believe with a full training camp to develop some chemistry with the receivers and get comfortable in the offense, you will agree he is capable of being the heir apparent. I am certain the Cowboys offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, agrees. With all of that being said, below is my list of the Cowboys top 5 free agency targets.

1. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs. Age: 27

It appears as though the Cowboys plan to pencil in their 1st round pick from 2015, Byron Jones, at free safety so he can properly learn and  develop at a set position. Too many times opposing quarterbacks have taken advantage of poor safety play. Barry Church and JJ Wilcox (who is entering free agency) were both out of position a lot, took bad angles, got burnt in coverage and missed tackles resulting in big plays.

Berry is fully recovered from his bout with cancer and by far the best safety on the market. He is currently playing FS, but is physical enough to play the run as well, making him suited to play either safety position. This would give Marinelli the ability to move both safeties around and he could continue using Jones to cover the big TEs while Berry is over the top when they run single high coverage.

Safety is one of the hardest positions to find in the draft and other than Darian Thompson out of Boise, (who would be a reach at 4 and gone by round 2) I don’t see a solid day one starter. Safety play is imperative for the Tampa 2 defense and pairing Berry with Jones could prove to be a top 5 tandem in the NFL. It is one position worth spending on. (Alternate: George Iloka, S, Bengals. Age: 26)

2. Ian Williams, NT, 49ers. Age: 27.

The Tampa 2 defense is predicated on getting pressure by only rushing 4. In order for it to be successful, all of the pieces need to be in place. Much like Warren Sapp, Tyrone Crawford needs a solid NT eating up space and drawing double teams which would allow him to use his quickness to shoot the gap and get to the QB. Williams is still young and not only a solid run stuffer, but able to collapse a pocket. He amassed 65 tackles in 2015 which is almost unheard of for a NT. He also aids in creating lanes for the LBs. (Alternate: Brandon Mebane, Seahawks.)

3. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins. Age: 25

Darren McFadden had a solid 2015 season, but the depth behind him has been suspect. I can’t figure out for the life of me why Miami abandoned the run so often with Miller in the backfield. He  is the definition of a complete back. Lamar only had a 194 carries, but still amassed 872 yards and 8 TDs, while adding 47 receptions for 397 yards and 2 Tds. He is solid in blitz pick up and at 225 lbs he can move a pile to get the tough yards. (Alternate: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay.)

4.  William Hayes, DE, Rams. Age: 31.

Jeremy Mincey is entering free agency and there are still question marks surrounding Randy Gregory. I believe DeMarcus Lawrence is ready to take the next step and move over to the RDE spot. It is a known fact that Gregory wont win any awards as a run stopper so he remains a situational pass rusher until he proves otherwise.

If the Cowboys don’t draft a top DE at 4 they need a bridge player to fill in until they develop a 3 down player. Hayes is 31, but still solid against the run and shows the ability to get to the QB. Hayes started 11 games in 2015 and amassed 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. At 31 he could be a cost effective bridge player for the Cowboys.

5. Joseph Barksdale, OT, Chargers. Age: 28.

The Cowboys are pretty solid along the offensive line, BUT….. They have little to no depth and both Mackenzy Bernadeu and Ronald Leary are entering free agency while the swing tackle position is up in the air as well.  Let’s not forget that Doug Free has been barely average in pass protection. The Cowboys used their 3rd round pick on the injured Chaz Green who is yet to suit up in even a preseason game. Free has had nagging injuries and is no spring chicken.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure Tony Romo is protected. Barksdale isn’t what I would call an elite OT, but he was the most consistent player along the SD OL in 2015. SD may opt to resign him, but he wont command top dollar either. He could be a solid swing tackle and/or someone who could compete with Doug Free for the starting job. He is worth a look and would add some much needed depth. I believe the Cowboys will resign either Leary or Bernadeu, but OT remains a need: if nothing else, sign him as a bridge player until we see what we have in Green.

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  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Yous said only Darian Thompson. Jalen Ramsey is a S/CB. I would take him. Also while yes, he can’t cover all that well, Jeremy Cash is an option at SS in round 3 or in a trade down in round 2. Someone has Billings rated the 5th best DT. God I hope so, so he can fall to pick #2 for us. They have Nkemdiche, Robinson, Reed, and Rankins ahead of him.

    • CowgirlCas

      With the Cowboys wanting to play Jones at FS, drafting Ramsey would be foolish at 4. The more I think about it, the more I want a pass rusher at 4. Top DEs are getting QB type money these days in FA and we need one bad. My biggest issue with cash is he is limited to playing close to the LOS and lacks strength at the point. He has a hard time getting off of blocks. (can’t stack and shed) I don’t see him as having the power to take down the big NFL backs in the open field. Functional strength is important. My other concern is the durability of his wrist moving forward. That needs to be monitored closely. I am not saying I don’t like him, but he is not even close to Thompson.

      I dunno who’s board that is, but I don’t put any stock in it if they don’t have Roninson up there. Don’t sleep on Javon Hargrave.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        They do have Robinson up there just as their number 2 guy, which I don’t agree with, but he’s higher than everyone else.

        • CowgirlCas

          whose board is it and who do they have ahead of Robinson?

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        Ramsey could play the role of Polamalu or Kam Chancellor, allowing Byron to see the whole field at FS. Play Ramsey at SS and let him have reign closer to the LOS.

        • without a good pass rush the secondary doesn’t mean much is my biggest worry. I just did a new fanspeak mock it worked out pretty well. Both Lawson and Bosa went before 4 so this is what I ended up with,

          4: R1P4
          CB JALEN RAMSEY
          FLORIDA STATE
          34: R2P3
          DT ANDREW BILLINGS
          BAYLOR
          67: R3P4
          ILB SCOOBY WRIGHT III
          ARIZONA
          98: R4P3
          DE SHAWN OAKMAN
          BAYLOR
          171: R6P14
          WR JORDAN PAYTON
          UCLA

          • Al

            you and I both know Wright wont make it to the 3rd round lol

          • I know it. This is a bad situation. If we could trade down I would draft him in the first round.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        I need to see Hargrave. I don’t care about Ragland or Reed. I already know what those players are, and they won’t move up or down my board with whatever they do. I need to see Deion Jones LB LSU and Kentrell Brothers LB Missouri though. Also need to watch Sean Spence. If not for his ecstasy addition a year ago, he would be top 15 easy. Needs to answer those questions as well.

        • CowgirlCas

          I am sold on Scooby at LB.

          • Al

            That kid will be one of the best D players we see in years.

          • Al

            That kid will be one of the best D players we see in years.

      • BigDIndiana

        We need plug and play for sure. If they are going to play Church and Jones at safety would they try to play him at his 2nd best position (my opinion) at corner? Scandrick mostly slot? Not sure how that would go, maybe exactly like they did with BJones this year? One of the top DLine guys would be plug and play along with ILB, if there is one there. Not sure if Jack would be ILB material as he seems a natural Will under this scheme. Having Jack and Lee on the nickel, which is a high percentage of downs in todays NFL, would be a great coverage duo. But if you can’t get to the passer….

        • I have a bad feeling about Jack ending up a Mo or Clowney type experience. Nassib is a climber: it will be interesting to see where he get’s drafted.

          • BigDIndiana

            The injury was a worry and the position they would play Jack with Lee here. Interesting they played Jack on occasion in the slot at times. Never know how guys translate to the NFL. If he could play ILB for us he could be a steal with his speed, but that is the gamble.
            The best scenario for a safe pick for me is a trade back and plugging Robinson at the 1. But the depth there I would probably rather get Billings, Day or Butler at 2.

          • Al

            I want the best available player at 4. If someone wants to sell the farm to trade up, then no complaints from me: but I feel the 1st RD pick as got to be someone who can get to the QB.

    • CowgirlCas

      BTW, the more I studied, the more I believed Thompson will end up a better player tham Ramsey. I am anxious to see how he looks in the game today.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        I don’t think so. I have seen Thompson and Ramsey both play. And I don’t think their ceilings are close. Thompson can be very good. But 20 years from now we could still be talking about how great Ramsey was. I’ve seen Cash blow by O line, but I have seen him get stonewalled by WR. I don’t think it’s an issue of strength, but consistency, I need that question answered, since I will never be able to do it myself.

        • CowgirlCas

          Until we see them both in pads against NFL competition, all we can do is speculate, but I remember the same things being said about Ramsey, being said about Mo. I was high on Ramsey initially, but now not so much. We need a pass rush plain and simple. You build a defense from the trenches out and JJ always drafts DBs high and puts bargain basement players up front which has come back to haunt us.

          • BigDIndiana

            Cravens is a kid I like from USC that could pair well with Jones. Several good DTs will fall to us in the 2nd as this draft is one of the deepest I have ever seen there. Marinilli liked that Day kid from ND a lot. Same build as one of my faves from last year…Aaron Donald.

          • I haven’t studied him yet. I would love for Reed or Billings to be there at 34

          • Al

            That kid Hargrave looks decent too

    • Al

      To me, Ramsey is an athlete and Thompson is a football player.

  • BigDIndiana

    Danny Trevathon to take McClains spot at MLB. Malik Jackson or Muhammad Wilkerson for the DLine are 2 more. We need to shore up one of those spots before the draft. Or Jenkins at CB if they let Mo walk.

    • It needs to be Scooby Wright at the Mike. He is one hell of a football player and can rush the passer too.

      • BigDIndiana

        I like what I see from him and would like him in camp. My whole point is they need to take one or more of those 3 positions and address it in FA so it isn’t dependant on the draft. Going into the draft still needing those 3 spots addressed would make me nervous.

        • Al

          I would say sign a proven CB in FA and maybe a vet DT or OT and get the best DE they can get and a decent MLB in the draft. CB is one of those positions that you just never know how they will translate.

          • BigDIndiana

            If they let Mo walk Jenkins would be a good sign and wouldn’t have to worry about Hargreaves. Ramsey strikes me as a safety. If they got him they could use him like they did Byron this year and then pair the 2 youngsters at safety letting Church walk after this year.

          • Al

            I believe Apple will end up the best CB in this class. The other options in FA are josh norman, trumaine johnson, and casey hayward

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            Good luck getting Josh Norman. But I think after Desmond King returning to Iowa, I feel that Apple is the most physical CB in the draft. He’s a very well built 6’1″.

    • Al

      Mebane is an option as well. JPP is also a FA

    • Al

      Mebane is an option as well. JPP is also a FA

  • BigDIndiana

    Danny Trevathon to take McClains spot at MLB. Malik Jackson or Muhammad Wilkerson for the DLine are 2 more. We need to shore up one of those spots before the draft. Or Jenkins at CB if they let Mo walk.