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Cowboys management likes to say that player evaluation takes place 365 days a year. What they never mention is that some of those days are a little busier than others.

Tuesday was one of those days. The team hosted four UFL defensive players – DC Defenders cornerback Deandre Baker, DC Defenders cornerback Gareon Conley, Michigan Panthers linebacker Noah Dawkins and St. Louis Battlehawks linebacker Willie Harvey Jr. – for a workout at The Star in Frisco as the team prepares for training camp in late July.

All have some level of experience with NFL clubs; two of them were first-round draft picks at one point before their careers took a different direction.

Baker was selected in the first round of the 2019 draft by the Giants. New York, a Jim Thorpe Award winner and all-time All-American at Georgia, actually traded up to get him. But an arrest before his sophomore season landed him on the commissioner’s exempt list and the Giants released him shortly afterward. He made the Chiefs’ practice squad toward the end of the 2020 season and returned to the field in late 2021, but a broken femur ended his comeback. 2024 was his first year back in football; he was named to the All-UFL first team.

Conley was selected by the Raiders in the first round of the 2017 draft. The former Ohio State Buckeye played 23 games for the Silver and Black, starting 20 times and recording four interceptions in three seasons. The Houston Texans traded him midway through the 2019 season, but he played only eight games with the club and spent most of 2020 on the injured list. He recorded two interceptions for the 4-6 Defenders this spring.

Dawkins was so impressive after graduating from The Citadel that he was ranked in Mel Kiper Jr.’s top 300 in 2019, but he went undrafted. He spent the summer in training camp with the Bengals and then signed with Tampa Bay. After one season, he was traded to the Jets, where he remained through the 2021 season. After a training camp with Chicago in 2022, he joined the Panthers of the USFL. This spring, he recorded 38 tackles for Michigan, going 7-3 under former Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Harvey was an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State in 2019 and spent three seasons in the Browns organization. This spring was his second season with the Battlehawks, and his league-leading 76 tackles earned him an All-UFL nod.

According to the team’s website, the Cowboys currently have only two open spots on the roster and are about six weeks away from opening training camp in Oxnard, California.

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