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Mailbag: 4/29/10 (Darren Sharper, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee)

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Q:  Are the Cowboys going to sign a free agent safety?  Why not Darren Sharper?  He would be better than Alan Ball and Michael Hamlin.

Gary Thomas, Ft. Worth, Texas

A: Despite reports yesterday that the Cowboys were eyeing Sharper, the team does not appear to have interest in the veteran safety at this time.  Don’t forget, Sharper is 34 and coming off surgery.  Further, the turnovers he forces are negated by the big plays he yields.

We still expect the Cowboys to sign a free agent FS, though.  Rams safety O.J. Atogwe seems like a better fit in Dallas than Sharper because he is younger (28) and still possesses the ball-hawking ability for which the Cowboys are searching (15 interceptions in the last three seasons).

We are even projecting Atogwe to be on the Cowboys’ final roster.

Q:  What kind of impact can we expect for Dez Bryant in his first season?  When do you think he will take over as a starter?

Amy Regal, Trenton, NJ

A: Some think Bryant will start very early in his rookie season, but we aren’t as convinced.  Roy Williams will be given an opportunity to retain his starting gig.  Perhaps we are being naive, but we think Williams will play much better in 2010.

Having said that, Bryant will certainly take over should Williams continue to struggle.  Our final stat prediction for Bryant: 45 catches, 650 yards, 4 TD.  Probably not the eye-popping numbers for which you may have been hoping.

Q:  Nice interview with Jay Ratliff.  It is obvious that filling the team with high-character guys like him is the reason for the success in 2009.  Do you think this was a factor in the team’s draft this season?

Steven Gomez, Tucson, AZ

A: Thanks for reading the Jay Ratliff interview, Steven.  Jay is certainly a stand-up individual and a huge reason for the team’s success.

We do think the Cowboys have shifted their mindset on personnel in the last year or so.  They want not only high-character players, but also guys who stay a bit more low-key (thus the release of T.O., Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones).

Now you may be screaming “But what about Dez Bryant!?”  However, Bryant isn’t a trouble-maker and he doesn’t have a flamboyant personality.  One look at any of his interviews since becoming a Cowboy shows he is humble and even nervous in front of the camera.  With the pieces the Cowboys already have in place around Bryant, there is no doubt he will constantly observe the “right way” to do things.

The other five Cowboys’ 2010 draft picks all seem to be extremely smart and self-motivated.  Lee, Owusu-Ansah, Young, Wall, and Lissemore all impressed us with their intelligence and enthusiasm.  The organization has really done a nice job of securing players like this who are not only talented now, but will work their hardest to become even better in the future.

Q:  Don’t you think the Cowboys should be worried about Sean Lee’s injury history?  I don’t see why they would trade up for a player who tore his knee a year ago.

Mark Rosenberg, New York, New York

A: The torn knee was a bit more than a year ago, but you are right that teams should be concerned over injuries.  The key is to determine if the injuries will affect future play or if they are not at all causally related to a player’s current condition.

Obviously teams had worries about Lee’s injury because he slid to the second round.  We have talked with multiple scouts who claim Lee is a first round talent.  The Cowboys obviously rated him as such on their big board.

A lot of times you can obtain incredible value from a player sliding due to his injury history.  The Cowboys feel they have done just that with Lee, so his selection makes sense from a value standpoint (assuming he checked out medically).

Now, whether or not they should have traded up for him is a completely different issue.

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