With rookie minicamp underway, all eyes will be on the Cowboys draft picks - specifically early-round guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Maliek Collins. (Read about Zeke's first day at work in CHQ Premium here.)
However, this team has been very good at finding hidden gems in undrafted free agency. Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Barry Church, Tony Romo, Ronald Leary and Lucky Whitehead (and in a different way, La'el Collins) are just a few of the guys the Cowboys have discovered.
It’s inevitable that one or two members of the team’s 2016 UDFA haul will impress in camp and make the team. But who has the best shot? I’ve got five names to keep an eye on …
DT Rodney Coe
Coe arguably has the best shot at making the team among their UDFA signings. The 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle visited with the Cowboys pre-draft (as a 30-Visit guy) and they signed him immediately after it ended. He recorded 46 tackles (including 8.5 TFL) in 2015, along with two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 3 pass breakups. Coe has impressive athleticism for a man his size and has the quickness that Rod Marinelli loves in his defensive linemen.
If this works, Coe - ego is the D-lineman who Fish hinted a month ago Dallas was "trying to keep under wraps" - could find himself in the interior DL rotation quickly, especially given the status of the oft-injured Terrell McClain. Coe could be a solid backup for Cedric Thornton.
CB Arjen Colquhoun
Next up is Arjen Colquhoun, the 6-0, 188-pound corner from Michigan State. Colquhoun has the height and length that the Cowboys want in their corners. His 37-inch vertical would’ve ranked in the top 10 among all CB’s at this year’s combine. He recorded 40 tackles (including 1.5 TFL), a sack, two interceptions, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 2015.
With Scandrick, Carr and Claiborne all locks to make the team, Colquhoun, Mitchell, Olatoye and sixth-round pick Anthony Brown will be battling it out for the last few roster spots. (There's enough position flex back there now that another UDFA, Roland Milligan from Toledo, bears mentioning, too.)
LB Deon King
King (6-0 and 218 pounds) is a tackling machine. He recorded 353 tackles over the last three seasons at Norfolk State, as well as 20 sacks, two interceptions, five pass breakups, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. King has less than ideal size but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s constantly around the ball. He also has some decent athleticism. His Pro Day 40-yard dash and broad jump would’ve ranked in the top 10 among all LB’s at the combine.
And yes, he was an under-the-radar 30-Visit guy.
OC/OG Jake Brendel
The only major position of need the Cowboys didn’t address in the draft was interior offensive line help. However, they may have filled that hole via Jake Brendel - the 6-3, 286-pound center from UCLA. Brendel has flexibility and can play both OC and OG. He was also a team captain, shows great leadership and is highly intelligent - traits the Cowboys value. On top of that he had best 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle among all offensive linemen at the combine.
Dallas signed vet Joe Looney to fill that G/C/G job previously held by Mackenzy Bernadeau. But what if a kid can do it cheaper?
WR Chris Brown
With the inconsistent Terrance Williams and unproven Brice Butler, the Cowboys could use another big, deep threat on the outside for Tony Romo. Chris Brown could fit that bill. Brown (6-2 and 194 pounds) had just 48 catches for 597 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2015, but he still has enormous potential. He could stand to gain a few pounds of muscle but he has very good hands and runs very impressive routes.
The Cowboys finalized a group of contracts this weekend while also waiving DB Buddy Jackson (Pittsburgh), RB Ben Malena (Texas A&M) and DT Chris Whaley (Texas). The incoming signed undrafted free agents:
DE Caleb Azubike (Vanderbilt)
C Jake Brendel (UCLA)
WR Chris Brown (Notre Dame)
DT Rodney Coe (Akron)
CB Arjen Colquhoun (Michigan State)
WR Ed Eagan (Northwestern State)
T David Hedelin (Purdue)
WR Andy Jones (Jacksonville)
LB Deon King (Norfolk State)
T Ryan Mack (Memphis)
CB Jeremiah McKinnon (Florida International)
DE Jason Neill (Texas-San Antonio)
G Boston Stiverson (Kansas State)
(Additionally, Dallas is giving weekend workouts to a pair of vets, tight end Justin Tukes and defensive tackle Tory Slater, along with rookies Cal Poly WR Chris Brown, Kansas RB Taylor Cox, Tulsa FB Mandel Dixon, A&M safety Sam Moeller, TCU WR Ja'Juan Story and SMU long-snapper Zach Wood.
History says somebody in that UDFA group might make it. Our five names is a good place to start.