Front Office Insider: How Cowboys' history with troubled players applies to Randy Gregory

Published May. 4, 2015 12:51 p.m. EDT

The Dallas Cowboys' decision to select former Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory comes with a plan.

Gregory, projected to be a top-10 pick, fell to 60th overall in last weekend's NFL Draft. He tested positive for marijuana in February at the NFL Combine, which played a significant role in his slide down draft boards.

The week before the NFL Draft, Gregory visited Valley Ranch to discuss his off-field issues. Though the Cowboys were tempted to trade up to get Gregory, they remained at their spot and got him anyway.

"I was thinking the other day that when I left [my visit], the best spot for me and the guy that's going to get me where I need to go and help me help this team the best is you," Gregory told defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli moments after he was drafted, per the team's website. "I'm going to make you guys so proud. I promise you. I'm not going to let you down."


The Cowboys have dealt with players with off-field troubles before. Part of their success in doing so stems from providing structure. Adviser David Wells began assisting players in Dallas in 1995.

For the past 20 years, Wells has mentored the likes of Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, guard Nate Newton, cornerback Pacman Jones, defensive tackle Josh Brent and wide receiver Dez Bryant. As Brent was waiting for reinstatement last year, he moved into Wells' home in DeSoto, Texas. Bryant and Jones, too, lived with Wells for a period of time.

Wells takes a hands-on approach that leads players in the right direction. Known as a crisis management expert, he doesn't have an official role with the Cowboys and is hired as a contractor. 

Though the Cowboys haven't yet reached out to Wells regarding Gregory, it's very likely he will have some role with the team's newest prized pass rusher.

"I was shocked to see how far [Gregory] fell," one AFC talent evaluator told "He's extremely gifted, but it goes to show that teams value character more than ever before."

The 6-foot-5, 243-pounder, who had 17.5 sacks in two years at Nebraska, is viewed as a high risk/high reward prospect.

"Be hard on me," Gregory told Marinelli. "Be as tough as you can on me."

If the Cowboys can get Gregory to buy in to the structure they provide, Gregory could be viewed as one of the biggest steals in recent drafts.

Redskins getting physical up front

Adding offensive line coach Bill Callahan might be the stealthiest acquisition of the offseason. 

The Washington Redskins doubled down on the line by drafting former Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff fifth overall and taking former Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio 112th overall. The decision to draft Scherff drew league-wide reaction with highly touted USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams still on the board.

Callahan, who coached with Dallas the past three seasons, agreed to a three-year deal with Washington in January. Entering this year's draft, the Cowboys had used three of their past four first-round picks on offensive linemen.

Redskins quarterbacks were sacked 58 times last season, so the decision to upgrade the position was overdue.

Rams rookie RB candidate for the PUP?

Todd Gurley is six months removed from ACL surgery and passed his medical re-check in Indianapolis last month. That's what, in part, allowed him to be drafted No. 10 overall by the St. Louis Rams.

Gurley, though, could be a candidate for the physically unable to perform list while he heals. Since the Rams have running backs Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead on the roster, they have the luxury of not rushing Gurley into action.

One trade that happened

Speaking of Rams running backs, St. Louis traded Zac Stacy to the New York Jets for a seventh-round pick over the weekend.

Stacy, who immediately tweeted his concern over Gurley's Thursday night selection, was gone by Saturday. It's a solid pick-up for the Jets given that running backs of Stacy's caliber aren't available in the seventh round.

The Jets don't have an elite running back, so they'll operate by committee with Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson and Stacy. Ridley, who signed a one-year deal with the Jets, is seven months removed from knee surgery after he tore his ACL and MCL in New England last season.

One trade that never happened

The Cleveland Browns didn't use one of their 12 draft picks on a quarterback, signaling their confidence in Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel.

But one source indicated to over the weekend that the Browns tried to trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to select former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. Instead, the Jets gave up a seventh-round pick to move up one spot to select Petty 104th overall.

Petty, who is viewed as a developmental quarterback, has a compact release and a strong arm. Don't expect him to push Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting role, according to a source.