Monday News & Draft Notes

A jam-packed update with information on many of the prospects expected to be in Valley Ranch during the next 48 hours. unloads everything we know as the Cowboys and the rest of the league inch closer to the 2006 NFL Draft.

COWBOYS RAMPING UP DRAFT PREPRARATIONS: With the NFL draft less than two weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys will welcome a handful of prospects to Valley Ranch during the next two days.

Among some of the notable names expected to be in Dallas include: Texas S Michael Huff, Southern Cal RB LenDale White, Pittsburgh OL Charles Spencer, Southern Cal OL Winston Justice, Utah State LB John Chick, Tennessee S Jason Allen and Michigan State DT Domata Peko.

The Cowboys also hosted a group of Dallas area prospects this past Friday (April 14).

Among the names on the list were Texas tackle Jonathan Scott, Oklahoma cornerback Eric Bassey, TCU offensive lineman Shane Sims, Kansas State fullback Victor Mann, Texas A&M kicker Todd Pegram and TCU tackle Michael Toudouze.

While mainstream media tends to downplay these visits, their importance cannot be overestimated.

"By the time we selected DeMarcus Ware last year, we didn't have any questions," Cowboys VP of College and Pro Scouting Jeff Ireland told in a recent interview. "He went through more evaluations than he even knows. We had some 31 opportunities to showcase him and compile due dilligence. He had a lot of prep time in front of Jerry and Bill."

UPDATED TEAM NEEDS: With the draft less than two weeks away and with Keith Davis still in the mix at free safety, here's a look at the Cowboys' updated team needs.

1. Tackle: This position was the team's Achilles' heel in 2005. With left tackle Flozell Adams injured, they were suspect on both sides. Free-agent signee Kyle Kosier might help this need if the Cowboys choose to use him at tackle rather than guard. Adams will be back in 2006. But they need an upgrade at right tackle, where rookie Rob Petitti struggled mightily last season.

2. Safety: The Cowboys are ecstatic to have Keith Davis returning, but they like him best as a special teams player and a part-time player on defense. Bottom line- the free safety position will still be addressed in the draft. "We haven't done anything there at this juncture that improves that position that has got to be improved," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Jones also said the Cowboys could move a cornerback, possibly Anthony Henry, to safety and might draft a cornerback if a top prospect falls to them.

3. Linebacker: Dat Nguyen retired. The Cowboys need a replacement at inside linebacker. They signed Akin Ayodele as a new outside linebacker. Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter is intriguing because his father played for Bill Parcells with the Giants.

QUARTERBACK DELIMMA? Yes, QB Drew Henson appears to be improving his overall game with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe this spring. And yes, Cowboys' officials have been pleased with what they've seen from Henson through his first five games.

Saturday Henson was once again impressive; completing 17-of-28 for 187 yards with two touchdowns in a 35-31 loss to Amsterdam Admirals.

However, will Henson's performance in NFL Europe really make a difference later this year when the Cowboys head to training camp?

Last off-season, the talk around Valley Ranch was that Henson had thrown over 5,000 passes to try and improve his mechanics and accuracy. He entered training camp hoping to be the back up to veteran Drew Bledsoe before ending up on the third team behind Tony Romo by the time the regular season rolled around.

So now, after putting up respectable numbers against NFL Europe competition, is it realistic to expect enough improvement out of Henson to see him overtake Romo later this year?

The answer to that question will greatly impact what happens with Dallas in the upcoming draft, as the team remains intrigued with Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst.

Whitehurst, projected to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds of the upcoming draft, is the only true quarterback documented by that the Cowboys have shown significant interest in this off-season. believes the Cowboys would strongly consider drafting Whitehurst in the third round or later if he's still available. However, the fact that Henson appears to be improving overseas, certainly complicates matters.

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