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Mailbag: Timing A D-Law Deal? Prospect Grades? 

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I'm wondering why the Cowboys would let DeMarcus Lawrence wait for a new contract given his importance to the team, a market price that is set by similar players and the need to get on with other free agent business? - STEVE JUNKER

Bryan: What if it’s not market price? We don’t know what Lawrence’s side is asking for. We don’t know what the front office is offering. These deals are not as simple as you want to believe. Every deal is different and getting there is not always easy for both sides.

Rob: I can’t tell you exactly when a deal might get done, but I wouldn’t frame this as the Cowboys “letting Lawrence wait.” They made an offer last week at the Combine and talked with Lawrence’s camp at points throughout the week. They want to get him signed long term, and the way Dez Bryant’s negotiation dragged on back in 2015, I have a hard time believing they want a repeat of that.

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When a scout or draft analyst says that they have a "first round" or "second round" or "third round" grade, etc., on a player, what are the measurable qualities that make a difference in that grade? For example, are there specific cut-off points in a player's 40 time/shuttle time/bench press/etc. that makes them a first- vs. second- vs. third-rounder? - JOEY ARNEL SAYSON

Bryan: I have always assigned grades off the ability that I’ve seen off tape. Measurables help tell part of the story, but it’s the tape that tells how he’s going to play. Great example is Desmond King from the Chargers. Gave him a first-round grade off tape. He got drafted in the fifth because scouts didn’t think he could run. He’s a first-round player. Have to be careful with those measurables.

Rob: I don’t think you tie it up in a neat bow and say, “If this wideout runs a 4.3, he’s a first-rounder.” Measurables matter, but to me, it should be mostly about the tape – evaluating how that player plays football. You need speed, you need strength, you need agility, and all those traits can be confirmed through those drills. But you have to supplement it with football skill, and grading a player’s on-field performance is the most important part of the evaluation.

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