New name atop Cowboys' wish list?

As teams enter the home stretch before the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday evening, they already know basically which players they would like to acquire, and which positions represent the biggest needs.

Therefore while teams are applying last-minute tweaks to their draft boards behind closed doors, virtually every word that is shared with the media at this point is a lie. The fibs are put out for two reasons: either to throw off other teams who might want to sneak in and steal a player, or to create the impression of interest in a player who isn't really a top priority, but could induce other teams to trade up. In such cases, teams acquire extra draft picks, and often still end up with their coveted player, anyway.

As the days turn into hours remaining before the draft, much of the public talk about the draft centers around wide receivers, safeties, cornerbacks and inside linebackers.

But multiple sources have told that if they stay at the No. 27 selection of the first round, the Cowboys are leaning toward a player to fill their greatest need: left tackle. Ever since the team cut Flozell Adams, the need has grown from the acquisition of a solid backup to the acquisition of a potential starter.

For much of the offseason, several names have been floated around for the Cowboys, should they take an offensive tackle: Maryland's Bruce Campbell, Rutgers' Anthony Davis and Indiana's Roger Saffold. But the name that seems to have picked up the most speed around Valley Ranch, the sources said, is that of USC's Charles Brown.

Brown, who measured in at the NFL Combine last month at 6-foot-5 and 303 pounds, is a former tight end who relies more on his athletic ability, footwork and long reach than he does raw power, although his strength will increase as he develops.

While he needs to mature more physically, Brown is more mature personally than most of the players in this year's draft. His father died when Brown was 13, and his mother subsequently was left partially paralyzed after suffering a pair of aneurysms.

""It has made me mature a lot," Brown said. "I have learned how to get past things and keep going and not let it get to you too much.

"I was 13 years old. It was tough but I had a lot of family with me and my mom took care of me. I didn't do it all by myself."

Brown's mother remains in a nursing home in southern California. Brown said she is improving, but said his goal is to move her into a more traditional family home.

"She is doing a lot better than she was a while back," he said. "She is still in a nursing home now, out in West Covina, so I am working on getting her out of that. It feels good. I don't want to talk too much about it and jinx it. But it feels great. It feels real good.

"If not with me, then with my sister. I plan on getting a house for them to all live together around the L.A. area."

The top tackles in the draft — Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Oklahoma's Trent Williams and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga — are expected to be long gone by the time the 27th pick rolls around. If Brown remains available, it wouldn't be a shock to see the Cowboys rush his name to the podium.

Brown is a little like Adams, in that he has a long frame with wide shoulders and long arms, and is very athletic and light on his feet. He doesn't have the raw power Adams had when he was drafted out of Michigan State, but that also is something that will increase as he matures. In the meantime, Brown is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft, and should be able to protect the quarterback's blind side for years to come.

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