The Dallas Cowboys are coming off one of their most nail-biting, nerve-racking seasons in recent memory.
The team looks to learn from their 2011 shortcomings through the current offseason and the 2012 NFL Draft is the last chance to tie up any loose ends.
Big D has been hard at work this offseason, signing a record number of free agents already.
Former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr tops the organization's list as the most notable (and expensive) signings. With Carr now wearing silver and blue, Dallas has a young, talented No.1 corner to put on the opposition's best wide receiver for years to come.
While Dallas was abuzz with the free agent frenzy just a short time ago, Cowboys Nation has shifted its sights to the upcoming spectacle at Radio City Music Hall. Fans anxiously wait to see who will become the newest seven Cowboys, while rumors and story lines have been making waves as the event inches closer and closer.
Here is all the latest news regarding America's Team and the NFL Draft.
The Cowboys attended the pro days for Alabama, Wisconsin, Stanford and Baylor according to ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins and Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com respectively. While others were scouted, the 'Boys were likely there to take a closer look at Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Peter Konz and David DeCastro, all of whom have been linked to Dallas and their 14th overall pick in the first round.
According to Pro Football Talk, Dallas has held private workouts with over 20 individual players, including Barron, Kirkpatrick, Upshaw, Konz and other big names like Michael Brockers, Stephon Gilmore and Fletcher Cox.
It's interesting to note, that out of the 20-odd workouts the Cowboys held, 10 were defensive players.
With the draft so close—and Dallas being Dallas, there have been several rumors swirling as to who the 'Boys will take with their first-round pick.
Towards the end of March, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones held a press conference with local media, in which he stated that his team could trade down from pick No.14, but would likely take a defensive player if they remained in their current position.
DraftInsider.net recently claimed that when Dallas is looking heavily into Memphis' Dontari Poe, whom they call "The apple of [the team's] eye". The report, stemming from Tony Pauline, also states that if Poe is gone by Dallas' turn in the first round, they'll likely turn their attention to Mark Barron.
In a conflicting report, Jones recently told The Dallas Morning News that Upshaw will be heavily looked at in his war room. In the interview, the Cowboys owner stated:
"He's a guy we're really going to have to take a long, hard look at over the next couple of weeks to see if he a linebacker for us, what is his more natural position or is he more of a defensive end."
In a recent article for ESPNDallas.com, Calvin Watkins named five Cowboys who should be "sweating the draft", with running back Felix Jones making the list among four others.
In the article, Watkins stated there has been "internal discussion" in the Dallas organization about trading the former starting running back.
The team's executive vice president Stephen Jones refuted what Watkins reported after the article was published, telling the writer's employer, “No discussions – or speculation – on the possibility of a trade involving Jones have ever taken place among individuals in this organization who would have the authority to explore such a scenario."
Bleacher Report contributor Dan Allen believes that the Denver Broncos should take a shot on the Cowboys rusher, noting the ineffectiveness of Knowshon Moreno and the age of Willis McGahee as reasons the team should inquire about Jones.
NFLMocks.Com writer Jesse Bartolis had a chance to interview Steve Mullenax of The Landry Hat blog, who believes that the aforementioned idea of trading down would be a bad one for Dallas.
Mullenax states that players like Steven Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Jason Babin have all been missed by certain teams thanks to trading down, and Big D has been just fine drafting in their given position in recent years.
It is interesting that The Huddle Report's Twitter account mentioned hearing of the Cowboys looking to trade up, not down towards the end of March. The tweet stated that the website had heard the 'Boys were looking into trading up with Cleveland to the No.4 spot, looking to target LSU's Morris Claiborne.
As we've established, the Cowboys have been linked to a ton of names, but the only ones I could see steering the team away from taking a defensive player with their pick is Peter Konz or David DeCastro.
Konz is a guy that I'd love to see wearing a star on his helmet, but the Cowboys have already invested in young talent at the center position with Phil Costa and Kevin Kowalski just 24 and 23 years of age respectively.
Dallas needs to grab a defensive tackle, linebacker or cornerback with their first-round pick. We saw what quarterback Tony Romo and the 'Boys high-powered offense could accomplish even with a lackluster offensive line last year.
What held the 2011 squad back more than anything, was the defense.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is a good play-caller and did well at the beginning of the season with a rag-tag group of leftovers from the Wade Phillips regime, but this time he gets to sit in the Cowboys war room and hand pick the young gun he thinks can start right away for his squad.
Supporters of a Felix Jones trade are going to call Stephen Jones' recent words as simply damage control, but there's more to it than that.
While DeMarco Murray was the talk of Dallas when he rose to fame midway through last season, any organization realizes you can't trade away a proven player for a guy you haven't seen enough from on the football field.
Last season, Cleveland Browns fans were clamoring for their front office to sign Peyton Hillis to a long-term contract and get that big man back on the field.
After winning over the city's heart in 2010, Hillis barely saw the field thanks to several injuries and behind-the-scenes issues, posting a lowly 587 yards on the ground. He's now in Kansas City backing up Jamaal Charles.
The Browns realized that in today's NFL, you can't just hand money to a up-and-coming running back and abandon all other options. While nobody is talking about a new contract for Murray, his rookie season performance has many 'Boys fans forgetting the production that Jones has given this team.
In 2010, while splitting time with Marion Barber III, Jones posted 800 yards on the ground, and despite just 16 games played last season, he was able to record over six yards per carry.
While there aren't as many one-two running back punches as a few seasons ago in the NFL, having two rushers who have the ability to break off 80 yard dashes and step in as the starter whenever needed is something Dallas can't afford to lose.
The Cowboys will likely have their phone ring a few times come draft day about the former Arkansas Razorback, but while they should pick up, they shouldn't trade away No.28.