Entering the 2009 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys had just released the talented but troubled Terrell Owens. Many NFL analysts came out and said the Cowboys offense would suffer due to the loss of Owens. Those analysts were wrong due to the breakout of Miles Austin. Obviously Austin overshadows any other performances from the Cowboys offense that year, but there was another undrafted free agent wide receiver who made the team that year.
Kevin Ogletree joined the Cowboys with the hopes of making the 53-man roster. As a fellow New Yorker, I felt an instant connection to the Queens receiver.
Ogletree is entering his fourth NFL season. His career started off with so much promise, but it hasn't developed into what I had expected to see from Ogletree. After losing a productive wide receiver in Laurent Robinson who took his talents to Jacksonville for more money, the #3 wide receiver position has an opening waiting to be taken. Will it be Kevin Ogletree that seizes the reins?
Frankly I was surprised the Cowboys decided to re-sign Ogletree this offseason. After two consecutive lackluster seasons, I felt that the front office would not retain him. The Cowboys made Ogletree one of their last free agent signings. Perhaps some in the organization still believe in the young man, but I have my doubts to whether Ogletree will ever become a reliable wide receiver in the NFL.
Athletic ability isn't the problem here at all. Ogletree ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, jumped a 36 inch vertical and timed a 4.08 20-yard shuttle at the 2009 NFL Combine. In high school he was a star athlete at multiple sports. Ogletree was the Daily News and Newsday player of the year after he had a huge senior season at Holy Cross High School in New York.
During his career in the NFL, Ogletree has had trouble with route running and football intelligence. There were far too many times last year when he didn't know what to do and because of that he ran the wrong route. This was clearly evident in the first Redskins game last year. If Ogletree wants to make this team, he will need to wrap his head around the playbook and do a better job of grasping the plays. He has the athletic ability and speed to be a good #3 wide receiver, but must improve his route running.
Maybe his problem all along has been a lack of focus on the game of football. His recent comments suggest he is now focused.
"I haven’t, for a while, had football as my life, my focus," he said this week at the Cowboys golf tournament in Grapevine. "Some things happened in the offseason that really forced me to look in the mirror and dig deep and find out what I want to be.
"It’s a good opportunity for me. I’ve got to go out and grab it. Like I said, some bad things have turned me into a better person."
His brother was the victim of a shooting back in January. Now I understand that is a horrible incident for anyone to go through, but why did Ogletree lack focus to begin with the past few years? It took a life-changing event for him to change his attitude, hopefully that puts him on the right path to success this season.
The shooting of his brother has also changed his mentality.
"That specifically has changed my attitude and work ethic,"
Wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson recently talked about the #3 wide receiver position and Kevin Ogletree.
"We’re hopeful that somebody emerges and steps up and kind of claims that job, and if not, then it’ll be by committee," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said Saturday after a practice at the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp at Valley Ranch. "Time will tell."
"I’m hopeful that he can. Again, that’s an unknown at this point, but he’s had a good off-season. All I can say is so far, he’s worked extremely hard. He’s gotten stronger. He’s gotten bigger. So again, time will tell."
After reading his comments, I get the impression that he isn't too thrilled or confident about Ogletree. We really won't get a feel for what we have at wide receiver until training camp starts, but there is no ringing endorsement from Jimmy Robinson about who will step up and seize the #3 wide receiver role.
Jason Garrett talked about Ogletree having the most experience out of the wide receivers fighting for the job. I honestly don't see experience being too much of a factor here. Of course having NFL experience is important, but Ogletree has only 25 career catches in three seasons. It's not like he has been in the league for years and produced on a consistent level. Whoever steps up and takes this job will be the receiver who can make plays, run the correct routes and consistently get open. The best player is going to win this job, not experience.
This is Ogletree's defining moment as a Dallas Cowboy. The talent is there, but he needs to get his head right and work hard to earn the job. I see Raymond Radway and Danny Coale beating out Ogletree for a job this summer, but that doesn't mean I do not want to see Ogletree succeed. This is going to be one of the best position battles we have had in years, and may the best man win.
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