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Cowboys Camp: Markquese Bell Tops 5 Rookie UDFAs with a Roster Chance

Is there a Tony Romo, a Drew Pearson or a Cliff Harris in this class? We take a stab ...

FRISCO - Some NFL types like to call them "eighth-round draft picks,'' even though the NFL Draft of course features only seven rounds.

They are those "Guys we had on our board as a fifth-rounder and couldn't believe he was still available as a UDFA'' guys. The Dallas Cowboys take this process very seriously, and have historically had some very serious success, too, with rookie prospects who somehow slipped through the cracks - and then became impact players.

Is there a Tony Romo, a Drew Pearson or a Cliff Harris in this class? We take a stab at five rookies who approach training camp in Oxnard with all they can ask for: A chance.

5: Center Alec Lindstrom - The problem here is that Dallas anticipated giving incumbent center Tyler Biadasz some spring-time competition from the other centers ... but that competition never materialized. Second-year guy Farniok is actually Biadasz' backup, so how does Lindstrom ever rise? It may be with another team; there are NFL people who believe the Boston College product with NFL family roots is an eventual starter in the league.

4: Kicker Jonathan Garibay - We told you he wouldn't go to camp as the only kicker, and now Dallas has signed his competition in CFL standout Lirim Hajrullahu. Lirim is going to have the inside track here, because special-teams coordinator Bones Fassel has a history with him. Also going against the Texas Tech kicker Garibay: With only three preseason games this year, in-game opportunities might be limited. But he's got a big leg ... and is waiting to show it off.

3: One of the wide receivers - This is the easiest position at which to stand out in OTAs; it's guys running routes against air. And a handful of kids did indeed have their moments there, including Ty Fryfogle, Dontario Drummond and Dennis Houston. With Michael Gallup starting camp still rehabbing, there is a chance for reps here, but be warned: Annually, this is the position where guys get touted early and fade late. It's an uphill climb at wideout.

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2: Linebacker Aaron Hansford - The Texas A&M product is a "right-stuff'' kind of prospect, and his timing might be right, too. The Cowboys invested a fifth-round pick in LSU's Damone Clark (another "right-stuff'' person) but did so knowing he's likely to miss the entire season recovering from his spinal fusion surgery. There is a window here, behind Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox, for a special-teams helper. Hansford can push there.

1: Safety Markquese Bell - This is the easiest call, and the most intriguing one. Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson are going to play safety for this team. But Bell (6-2, 212) is too big and too fast to ignore. He recorded a (kinda) 98-yard pick-6 in the OTAs, giving coaches a taste of what he might be able to do as a defender - some day. But for now? He's already become besties with Bones, sidling up to the coach to offer to return kicks, punt the ball, whatever it takes. Bell, at this early stage, seems to have what it takes to get a real job as a Dallas Cowboys UDFA.

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