Have the Cowboys and Jason Garrett unearthed a hidden gem at OTAs?
As was pointed out in the thread following Tom's weekly post-Wednesday OTA news summary, one of the players turning some heads at the Cowboys OTAs has been former SMU receiver Cole Beasley. The diminutive Beasley, who tilts the scales at 5'8", 175, was a four-year starter at SMU, where he flourished in coach June Jones' run-and-shoot system. In 2011, he was selected All-Conference USA First Team after gathering in 79 catches for 954 yards--this after a scintillating junior campaign wherein he caught 87 balls for 1,060 yards and six scores, and added one punt and one kickoff return to his scoring total. Over his collegiate career, Beasley tallied 255 receptions and 14 TDs.
In his own summation of the practice session, former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus, who still has a lot of contacts within the organization, noted:
When watching practice this morning I had a member of the front office walk by me and say, "That Cole Beasley is going to make himself hard to cut." There is something every day at practice that Beasley does to get himself noticed and that is all you can ask from a player. Beasley has a unique skill of running routes, playing with awareness and dependable hands.
When asked about what interested him in Beasley in Wednesday's post-practice presser, Jason Garrett replied:
He's a good, productive football player. We saw that on tape in college and we've seen that over the course of the first nine OTAs and in the rookie minicamp. He's a guy who understands how to play. He's a quick, little receiver who plays inside more than he plays outside and has a good feel for it. There's some other examples of his type of player in the league who have had success and he falls into that family of receivers...
More on Beasley (and some highlights!) after the jump...
Beasley gets open by relying on terrific speed (a 4.49 forty) and quickness (6.98-second three-cone drill). And, despite his size, he's very explosive, as his 38-inch vertical and 10'6" broad jump marks suggest. The kid clearly knows how to get open, as his college highlights will attest.
In addition, he seems to be developing a bit of an OTA highlight reel. In a recent segment of "The Blitz," which was dedicated to the quarterbacks on the Cowboys' roster, I noticed that the same player more often than not was on the receiving end of the signal callers' throws: a little guy, wearing number 14. And the grabs he was making weren't of the easy, seven-on-seven variety. Watch the segment; you'll see catches in traffic and on the sidelines. You'll see Beasley go low to snag an errant toss. And in every instance, his hands are solid; he makes smooth, easy catches without breaking stride.
Because of his size - and perhaps due to the fact that he was seen as a "system" receiver in college - Beasley is an under-the-radar guy, and probably will be for the duration of his NFL career. Garrett, who spend his entire career lurking at the bottom of the roster, knows that Beasley likely faces the same career trajectory:
You're never going to keep him because he's big, strong, fast, long, jumps through the roof, all that kind of stuff. The way he stays in this league is: every day he catches five balls; every day he beats a guy you don't think he can beat; and he does it today, tomorrow, the next day, the next day, etc. There's a lot of guys who have made their way in the league that way, and he's going to be one of those kind of guys.
Garrett could well be describing how he himself parlayed his own UDFA skillset into a fourteen-year NFL career.
My pet cat had been Prairie View A & M OLB Adrian Hamilton. Now, I think he'll be my defensive pat cat, because I just gotta make room for Beasley. I don't know whether Beasley's body can withstand the rigors of an NFL training camp, much less a 16-game season. But I do know that he's one of the guys who I'm going to watch intently in Oxnard.