Cole Beasley may be tiny, but he is far too special to let go.
The team that the Dallas Cowboys will put on the field for the 2012 NFL season is almost prepared. The Cowboys are officially down to 75 players after releasing rookie undrafted free agent Charley Hughlett this past Monday. With all 32 NFL teams required to trim their rosters down to 53 this Friday evening, there will be some difficult decisions to be made.
If you are a football fanatic like myself, then you may have been watching the HBO show "Hard Knocks" that is showcasing the Miami Dolphins. I really have a lot of respect for Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. After all, he did spend some time in the Dallas organization before moving on to Miami.
After watching the show, it reminded me just how difficult it is to trim your roster down to 53 players. When I began contemplating the potential moves that the Cowboys may have to make by Friday, there were four players that I believe should remain on this team. Releasing them would be a huge mistake because each player can offer this team something long term.
Take the jump to found out who and why....
Perhaps the most obvious name on my list is the talk of training camp. Beasley signed as an undrafted free agent that basically nobody predicted to be this good. After a strong performance since mini-camp, Beasley deserves to make this roster.
Yes, he quit football and the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, he is only 5-8 and 174 pounds, but the kid is a gamer who can play in the NFL.
We tend to get caught up in comparing short slot wide receivers to Wes Welker, but after watching Beasley play, you can't help but think of #83 from the New England Patriots. They are both very quick, run great routes and have a knack for finding holes against the defense.
Terry Glenn was the last receiver with speed who could man the slot in Dallas. Beasley will never clear waivers, he will land on another football team. If the Cowboys cut him, he will go on to play an important role for another offense. We released Danny Amendola because he was too small and didn't offer much on special teams, but let's not make the same mistake again.
Once Beasley gets comfortable returning punts, something he did only a few times at SMU, he could become a role player.
The injuries that Coale has suffered have derailed his time for learning the offense. The lack of preparation and repetitions that can be gained from training camp will probably prevent Danny Coale from contributing much, if at all, this season.
But the potential and physical talent lie within Coale. He is a 6-0 and 196 pound receiver who can play special teams. ESPN writer Tim MacMahon envisions a Sam Hurd type of player, which I agree with, but I believe that Coale has more of an upside as a receiving threat.
Coale knows he hasn't proven anything yet.
"I need to show I’m worthy of a spot," Coale said. "I really haven’t proven anything, and Wednesday’s a chance to prove my worth. It’s very important to me, and I’m taking it very seriously."
He has been injured, but it's not time to give up on a draft pick this early. If Dallas attempts to sneak him onto the practice squad, he will be snatched up by another team. The same goes for Andre Holmes, but I would rather hold onto Coale because I believe he is much further along in his development. Holmes may never grow into his 6-5 frame, while Coale is more polished as a football player.
There will be extremely difficult decisions to be made at wide receiver this year. Honestly, I didn't see myself saying that before training camp started.
My pet cat of the summer is in risk of not making the team either. Even though he has displayed his pass rushing ability in practice and the pre-season games, Hamilton is still not a lock to make the 53-man roster. Obviously it wouldn't be a difficult decision for me because I am a firm believer in the "you can never have too many pass rushers" theory.
Don't get me wrong, Hamilton is still extremely raw. He has a lot of work to do playing against the run and dropping back into coverage, but the physical talent is there. Hamilton is a great athlete that has the motor you want to see in pass rushers, but he also possesses the mean streak and physical element in his game, similar to James Harrison.
If the Cowboys get cute and attempt to sneak him onto the practice squad, then you can kiss Adrian Hamilton goodbye. Young pass rushers like that don't come easy, so NFL teams will be all over that. Trust me, there are some teams reviewing the game tape right now and kicking themselves for not using a draft pick on him.
Then there is the other fourth-round pick Matt Johnson. He has missed basically the entire offseason with the Cowboys because of school obligations and injuries to both hamstrings. He's been a real big disappointment for me, but that doesn't mean that we should release him.
Sometimes the Cowboys give up on draft picks too early. They released their 2010 fifth-round pick Josh Thomas without giving him a lot of time to see what he could do, so the team isn't afraid to pull the trigger on releasing a rookie who hasn't performed.
I was talking to OCC about Matt Johnson and he brought up a fantastic point.
Consider this: The Cowboys played Alan Ball in 2010. Brought in Abe Elam in 2011 and sent him packing after a year. This year they brought in Brodney Pool and released him at the start of camp. There's a good argument to be made that the Cowboys do not have the organizational capability to find and properly evaluate a good safety.
So with their history, it's imperative the Cowboys hold onto anybody with even a remote potential to play safety. Matt Johnson is such a guy. And that's not even considering all the character issues that will pop up with next year's safety class that will make that draft a very risky proposition.
Can you really find anything to counter his argument with? I know I can't because OCC is absolutely spot on about everything he said. This team has had trouble evaluating safety talent dating back to taking Terence Newman and Roy Williams over Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed.
We can give them credit for Barry Church, but even the Cowboys didn't know that he would turn into the player he is now when they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
The war room loved Johnson on draft day, so why would that be any different just a few months later? This team needs to start giving their young draft picks some time before they decide to move on.
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