Cowboys Considering Versatile DB

Selecting a player at the top of the first round is a dicey proposition, as teams have to decide which player is worth the investment of the millions of dollars that go to players chosen at the top of the NFL's annual meat market.

But many league personnel executives will insist that the real artists in the draft business are those who can find gems in the late rounds, or even among the ranks of the undrafted free agents. Drafting Troy Aikman first overall or snagging Emmitt Smith in the first round weren't the kind of selections that made scouts look like geniuses, even though both will spend eternity in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But how many teams took a chance on Bill Bates and Tony Romo?

Sure, every team has found an undrafted player who has panned out, and the vast majority don't. Most show up to a team's rookie mini-camp after the draft and are unemployed the following week. A few will get invitations to training camp, but even then, many are little more than tackling dummies for the veterans whose jobs are assured. has learned that the Cowboys are one of several teams considering a late draft pick or free agent contract for one local player who could prove helpful on both defense and on special teams: SMU cornerback/kick returner/special teamer Bryan McCann.

McCann (5-10 ½, 185, 4.3) is a four-year starter for the Mustangs who is training with former Texas A&M and New York Jets star cornerback Ray Mickens, is under consideration by about 20 teams, according to his representatives, John Biggins and Brian Berry. Some see him as a late-round draft choice; others view him as a free agent camp invitee.

McCann, the 2006 Oklahoma 6A state champion in the 100-meter dash (10.3 seconds), earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors last season as a cornerback and for special teams. On special teams, he returned two blocked kicks for scores, and took the opening kickoff against the University of Houston back for touchdown, only to have it called back because of a penalty.

In his career, the versatile McCann played in 47 games, spending one season at free safety and three at cornerback, covering slot receivers and outside receivers. He compiled 186 tackles in his career and 11 interceptions, the highest career total for any current C-USA player. He also spent two years returning kickoffs, collecting 42 returns for 960 yards (22.9 yards per return).

Whether he gets drafted or ends up signing as a free agent, of course, remains to be seen. He has been clocked at 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, and has put up 16 reps on the NFL-standard 225-pound bench press. If he lifts well and runs in the 4.3s or even low 4.4s, he has a legitimate chance of getting drafted.

If the talk about making Felix Jones the Cowboys' No. 1 tailback proves to be true, the team would be wise to take Jones off kickoff returns. That would leave 2009 rookie Kevin Ogletree and Miles Austin as the only players on the roster with kickoff return experience at the NFL level, and considering the money Dallas will have to invest in Austin to keep him, it's a pretty safe bet that he won't be back fielding kicks.

If Ogletree, as many suspect, is ready to take on a larger role on offense, the team might not want to risk sticking him back there, either, which would make a player like McCann a valuable addition.

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