some extent in time to jump into training camp on a limited basis this summer, he gives the Cowboys four legitimate linebackers - Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Lee and Carter. Plus, the versatility of Lee and Carter will give Rob Ryan a whole lot of flexibility for what I'm sensing will be a rather non-conventionally coordinated 3-4 defense.
DeMarco Murray? If nothing else - nothing else - he gives the Cowboys a legitimate kickoff return guy with the possibility of fielding punts, too, without having to tap into the talents of Bryant, Miles Austin or Felix Jones. Plus, the Oklahoma running back creates unbridled competition for the football and third-down responsibilities among the running backs, to the point of likely forcing one of the incumbents off the 53-man roster. Competition, or creative anxiety, is good for changing a team's inner soul.
To that, head coach Jason Garrett said, "The thing we did on the offensive line and on the entire team, we created competition."
Take David Arkin, and I know, you all uttered "who" just as I did when he was selected in the fourth round. He's the guard and potentially eventual down-the-road center who can also play tackle from Missouri State. Don't let that bother you, even though Missouri State sounds much more legitimate than the multi-directional college previously known as Southwest Missouri State. He creates competition at least at one guard spot that is wide open since veteran starter Kyle Kosier is an unrestricted free agent.
Like, what happens if the Cowboys don't get him re-signed? You good with Montrae Holland stepping in there? What about Phil Costa or Travis Bright? This kid, taken with the draft's 109th selection, is smart and tough, a mauler, who I saw ranked as the 100th guy on one Top 100 board. So don't give me a "meh" just because he didn't go to Georgia or Michigan State. I got a good feeling here.
After that, you just want to pick guys who have some sort of dimension just to make the team. Fifth-round pick Josh Thomas - soon to be known as J.T. - will challenge for the 53-man roster on the strength of playing on the nickel and special teams. So Alan Ball, even if moved back to corner as Cowboys COO Stephen Jones suggested could happen last week, and Bryan McCann beware.
I'm told by an independent third party to bet good money on the sixth-round guy, wide receiver Dwayne Harris, and again, don't let being from East Carolina get in your way. Remember Dexter Coakley came from Appalachian State and Charles Haley from James Madison and DeMarcus Ware from Troy and Tony Romo from Eastern Illinois and, for gosh sakes, Miles Austin from Monmouth. This guy was Conference -USA's player of the year in 2010 and the conference's special teams player of the year in 2009. He caught more than a 100 passes this past season, and returns kickoffs (for touchdowns, too) and punts. A buddy tells me he saw Harris single-handedly beat Southern Mississippi, and the coaches there saying their guys just couldn't cover him.
Bewares out to Kevin Olgetree and Manny Johnson and Jesse Holley, and who knows, if this savvy football player is what the Cowboys hope he is, they might not need to re-sign veteran Sam Hurd, an unrestricted free agent by the 2009 rules and a restricted free agent the Cowboys chose not to tender by the 2010-season uncapped rules.
And in the seventh round - and who knows about seventh-rounders - the Cowboys at least created competition at fullback with Shaun Chapas from Georgia and more offensive line battling with Wisconsin's Bill Nagy, an interior guy.
So to me, the Cowboys definitely upgraded the talent in several areas, even if it's backup talent in the last three or four rounds, created battles for roster spots and snaps and have freshened up the outlook of the veterans once they get a look at some of the new faces on this team. Plus, they seemed to have added good character guys who love to play football.
Not by happenstance.
"That's really important," Garrett said after a long three days, "and wherever we acquire players we want to have the right kind of guys. ... Look at the eight guys (we drafted), each of those guys have those traits."
Now then, I know what you're saying, and I'm saying it, too, since my choice with the ninth pick in the draft was a defensive end, a