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Mailbag: Projecting The Cap Situation? Potential Draft Picks At DT?

SALOMON SABAMEXICO CITY
It seems the cap situation is in better shape than past years, but can you give us more details? How much does the team need for signing drafted players, how much available for free agency etc.?

Bryan: The cap situation is good. They have less than $1 million in dead money on their cap at this time. Their rookie pool allotment will be higher due to where they are selecting in every round, but they should be able to handle that. There will be a few decisions that they will have to make on their own players like Rolando McClain, Greg Hardy and Brandon Carr -- but they should have enough flexibility to be players in free agency if they choose. I could see them concentrating on their own first, then working from there.

David: Honestly, I can't give you many more details. As it stands right now, we don't even know what the salary cap is going to be. The early projections are somewhere around $154 million. By those calculations the Cowboys should have something like $13 million in cap space. When you factor in draft picks and free agent signings, that's not a whole lot of room. But it's worth remembering that they can always create more cap space by re-structuring current deals. If they feel they absolutely have to free up cap space, then re-structuring big-money players like Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and Tyrone Crawford would make it happen. If they want to be major free agency players, that should be on the table. It'll be interesting to see how they approach it.

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T.J. MCCAULEYNEW MARKET, MD
This may finally be the draft! The draft we FINALLY address the 1-technique position. With Andrew Billings, Jarran Reed, A'Shawn Robinson, Kenny Clark, Sheldon Rankins, Austin Johnson and Hassan Ridgeway all garnering early round attention, who are your personal favorites and why?

Bryan: My highest rated player among the defensive tackles playing the one-tech is Andrew Billings, then Jarran Reed, Austin Johnson, A'Shawn Robinson, Kenny Clark and Hassan Ridgeway. I have Sheldon Rankins as a three-technique. I don't feel that there is a big drop off between Billings and Reed, which means that both could go in the first round or be available when the Cowboys select at No. 34. Collectively it's a very powerful group that can hold their own in the running game but also give you some push in the middle of the pocket in the passing game. Any one of these players is an upgrade over the current situation.  

David:Bryan's undoubtedly done more homework than I have, given that he's scouted something like 150 players in this draft. But having had the chance to watch Austin Johnson up close and personal at the Senior Bowl, I came away impressed. His game tape is fantastic, as well. He's definitely got the build of a run-stuffing one-tech, but the amazing part is how good he is at generating pressure and getting off blocks. Guys like Reed, Robinson and Billings may go as early as the first round. If they do, I like Johnson's odds to be there at No. 34.

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