Yes, free agency is still dominating discussion, as it should, but keep in mind that Dallas is also actively taking part in the scouting process at the collegiate level.
This Cowboys scouts are conducting interviews, watching workouts, and visiting teams as they conduct their Pro Day all around the country.
Of course, among the documented team needs this year is linebacker, where Dallas is hoping to add additional depth across the board. Veteran LB Akin Ayodele was signed earlier in the week, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys will stand pat headed towards the 2006 NFL Draft.
In fact, the team is still actively interviewing a number of top linebacker prospects that will be available in next month's draft. And one of the new names on the board for Dallas is Stanford OLB Jon Alston.
The interesting note on Alston is that his speed has scouts so impressed that he is getting looks from half the league at safety, in addition to half who like him at linebacker.
At Stanford's Pro Day earlier this week, Alston ran safety drills for a number of teams, and looked every bit the part of a safety in both his hands and how he moved. A the NFL Combine last month, Alston ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker, recording a 4.40.
In addition, Alston has setup a pre-draft visit with the Dallas Cowboys, TheRanchReport.com has learned.
He is also drawing significant interest from Kansas City and Pitsburgh.
As a senior with the Cardinal, he recorded 52 total tackles, including 9.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception.
Scouting Report: Jon Alston School: Stanford
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 215 40: 4.65 Yr: 4Sr
Pos: Outstanding athlete who plays with great explosion and speed. Fast off the edge, quickly changes direction and loses no momentum altering his angle of attack. Easily runs with tight ends or backs in coverage. Outstanding in pursuit and covers a great amount of area on the field. Deceptively strong and holds his ground against blocks.
Neg: Not instinctive or decisive. Does not always play with great balance or body control. Smothered at the point by large opponents.
Analysis: A linebacker in a strong safety's body, Alston is a terrific athlete slowly progressing on the field. May be limited to the number of schemes he'll be effective in at the next level but the speed and explosion are enticing.
2004: Emerged as one of the top linebackers in the Pacific-10 Conference ... Named Second-Team All-Pac-10 after proving to be one of the top pass rushers in the league ... He was the only player in the conference to finish among the top six in sacks (4th with 9.5), fumbles forced (tied for 5th with three) and tackles for loss (6th with 14.0) ... He led the team in those three categories, tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries and was third on the team with 61 total tackles ... His 14 tackles for loss ranks ninth on Stanford's all-time single season list and his 9.5 sacks places him No. 12 on the all-time chart ... Jon started all 11 games at outside linebacker and was one of Stanford's most feared defensive players ... He was named the team's Most Outstanding Junior player ... He had a monster game in the Cardinal's last-second loss at Arizona State ... He was credited with seven total tackles, which included five tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks along with a forced fumble ... He had eight tackles vs. Oregon, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks ... Recorded a season-high 10 tackles at Notre Dame with one tackle for loss and one sack to go along with a fumble recovery ... Had eight tackles and forced a fumble against top-ranked USC.
2003: Backup outside linebacker who earned a letter for the second consecutive season ... He finished the year with three quarterback sacks, tied for second on the team, four tackles for loss and 21 total tackles ... Began the year with two tackles and one tackle for loss in the season opener vs. San Jose State ... In game two at BYU, he recorded two sacks for -18 yards in Stanford's win over the Cougars ... One of his sacks came in the final moments of the game when BYU had a first-and-goal on the eight yard and was driving for the winning touchdown ... The following week at Washington, he recorded a season-high five tackles, including one quarterback sack and tackle for loss, and one forced fumble ... Had four tackles in Stanford's win over UCLA.
2002: Began the year as a backup at outside linebacker, but wound up starting five games during the middle of the season ... Played in all 11 games ... Outstanding special teams player ... Finished the year with 30 total tackles (14 solo, 16 assisted), two tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and one forced fumble ... Recorded a season-high seven tackles in Stanford's 16-6 win over Arizona ... In his second collegiate game - vs. San Jose State on September 14 - he registered four tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback sack and a forced fumble in a reserve role ... His other sack and tackle for loss came against Arizona ... Started games 5-9 vs. Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and USC.
2001: Redshirted the season as a true freshman inside linebacker.
High School: One of the top linebackers in the southern United States ... Registered 134 tackles and 21 tackles-for-loss in his senior season at Loyola College Prep School ... Named to SuperPrep's All-Southwest Region team as a senior ... Class AA First-Team All-State, All-City and All-District selection as a senior ... Was also named All-District at running back ... First-Team Academic All-State ... Named First-Team All-District and Academic All-District after his junior campaign ... Played free safety, middle linebacker and tight end as a sophomore ... First-Team All-District as a sophomore ... Started at running back as a freshman ... Member of the National Honor Society ... A 2000 Wendy's High School Heisman Student ... Named a Presidential Scholar in 2000.