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Cowboys expand upon draft class with cache of undrafted free agents

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, the players selected during draft weekend don’t make up the entire story as they have a history of finding undrafted gems.
Credit: AP
Wide receiver Dontario Drummond runs with a reception during Mississippi football pro day in Oxford, Miss., Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)

DALLAS — The 2022 NFL Draft is now behind the Dallas Cowboys, with the event bringing the team nine players out of the seven rounds. The initial reactions to those nine picks are now etched in time and the merits of those selections will be debated for years. 

However, after the draft ended, there was another player acquisition frenzy where the Cowboys added 20 undrafted free agents. In total, the Cowboys have infused the team with 29 fresh faces. The signees might not be remembered for having their name called, or discussed at the same length as the draft picks, but the 20 new players join the nine draftees in the same boat. 

The new class are all now tasked with helping to make the Cowboys a better team in 2022 than they were last year. 

Twenty is a high number for an undrafted free agent class, but the Cowboys had an unusually large number of free agents this offseason, many of whom they did not re-sign, so they needed to fill out their roster of 90 players. 

In addition, Dallas themselves remarked that the overall depth of the draft was the strength of this year’s class. It stands to reason that, even after seven rounds, some of that vaunted depth remained available. 

And this part of the process isn’t fruitless. The Cowboys have received great returns on undrafted free agents in the past and they hope to do so again. Tony Romo came to Dallas as an undrafted free agent. So too did Hall of Famers Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris. Most recently, starting offensive lineman Terrence Steele signed with the Cowboys after he didn’t hear his name called at the draft.

As for this year’s list, there are a few things that stand out. The Cowboys added players at positions of need with two defensive ends, two linebackers, three safeties, three offensive linemen, and four wide receivers. Those are all places where the team had vacancies.

One of the players pegged as having a good chance to make the roster is safety Markquese Bell from Florida A&M. 

The All-SWAC performer Bell fits the type of safety that the Cowboys like as he stands at 6 feet, 3 inches and 212 pounds. He’s a highly-athletic player who has the measurables that give him the chance to stick with Dallas. The team thought so highly of Bell that they paid him a $15,000 signing bonus to bring him onboard. 

Another name that stands out among the pickups is Boston College center Alec Lindstrom. 

There’s a family history of Lindstroms playing in the NFL, including his brother Chris who is currently playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Ironically, Chris Lindstrom was a first-round pick from when current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the head coach for the Falcons in 2019.

Currently, 2020 fourth-rounder Tyler Biadasz is the starting center, but the Cowboys appear to at least be keeping an eye out for an upgrade. The team announced that second-year guard Matt Farniok will be competing with Biadasz for the starting center spot this summer. Lindstrom adds another name to the competition.

Among the four receivers brought in by the Cowboys, it looks like Dontario Drummond from Ole Miss has the potential to be a standout. Last season, Drummond caught 76 passes for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns, while also adding a rushing score. He could also be the gadget replacement for Cedrick Wilson as Drummond threw two passes in college, and both were completed.

The Cowboys stacked their late rounds and undrafted profiles with players who had great athleticism and metrics, which Drummond fits into.

Dallas also brought in two defensive backs after adding just one during the draft. USC cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart could make a run at a roster spot. Taylor-Stuart had one interception to go along with three passes defensed last year with the Trojans but the measurables are hard to ignore. At 6 feet, 1 inch, with 31.5-inch arms and 4.42 speed, Taylor-Stuart fits the prototypical Cowboys cornerback under Quinn. 

Perhaps the player who could make the biggest impact is free agent kicker Jonathan Garibay. The Cowboys don’t have an established field goal kicker on the roster after releasing Greg Zuerlein and Garibay might have first dibs on the job. 

Garibay had a solid year at Texas Tech last season, missing only one field goal attempt. His season included a 62-yard game winner, proving Garibay has both a big leg, and clutch DNA. 

There are months to go before training camp and when the season begins, but the Cowboys have added players beyond the draft who will make their case for a spot on the 53-man roster. With a history of success with undrafted free agents, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of the 20 signees earn their way onto the Cowboys and make a name for themselves.

Do you think the Cowboys will find a starter from this year’s crop of undrafted free agents? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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