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You Don't Need to Be Drafted to Make the Cowboys

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Cowboys aren't averse to pursuing nontraditional ways of finding players who can help the team. They used a reality show to find Jesse Holley, they turned to baseball for Drew Henson and Chad Hutchinson and they dragged Nate Newton out of the world of competitive pie eating.

    We're kidding about the last one but history has shown that you don't need to be a blue-chipper to earn a helmet with a blue star. This year is no exception. As Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News points out, there's a pretty good chance that the Cowboys will wind up keeping five undrafted rookie free agents when they finish up the preseason.

    We've already covered the rapid rise of safety Barry Church, but similar stories can be written about the way fullback Chris Gronkowski, center Phil Costa, cornerback Bryan McCann and safety Danny McCray have opened eyes and earned larger opportunities this summer. McCray, for example, is getting looks as a nickel linebacker, a good sign that coaches are looking for reasons to keep him rather than reasons to send him packing. Others have pounced on chances that came about because of injuries to other players or because veterans have been ineffective and left the door open.

    Is that a good thing for the Cowboys, though? The answer here is yes, although it's impossible to ignore the negative viewpoint.

    That view would come down to a belief that the Cowboys aren't doing a good enough job of drafting and developing players if they can find better contributors on the scrap heap after the draft winds down in April. You can't count on striking gold like that every season, so it is far better to have a strong scouting department that gets you outstanding players who fit your system in April.

    Fair points, but it still says more good than bad about the Cowboys. First and foremost, it is good that the Cowboys are committed to taking the 53 best players with them into the season regardless of pedigrees(*). For too long this franchise has been absorbed with style and light on substance, something that you can't say now that guys are walking in off the street and beating out more established players.

    * - Does not apply to Roy Williams.

    It's not like we're talking about guys playing crucial roles here. Most of these players are never going to advance beyond special teams spots, spots which are always best filled by hungry players looking to impress someone enough to not have to work for UPS. But sometimes they turn into Miles Austin or Stephen Bowen, to name two guys who might have been overlooked by franchises less willing to let performance dictate who gets to wear the uniform.  

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