I have been a strong advocate for Dallas bringing in a developmental QB since the 2012 offseason began -- not because I see a UDFA type as being able to replace Tony Romo in the future, but simply to give this team an alternative to Kyle Orton in 2014 or 2015 at the backup spot. I am still of the opinion that Romo's true successor will be drafted relatively high (during the 1st or 2nd rounds) in 2014 or 2015.
Anyone who's watched the Cowboys closely for the past several years knows about the failed Stephen McGee experiment. But many may not recall McGee actually STARTED twice during his 4 years in Dallas as our third string QB...McGee even managed to win one of those games (over the 2010-2011 playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles) despite his 'Captain Checkdown' label.
I don't know about you all but I'd hate to see this team turn to Vince Young in desperation should Romo go down and the rumors about Orton having developed late career Brad Johnson-itis turn out to be true. One of the most frustrating things about the doomed 2008 season was the pathetic loss to the basement dwelling St. Louis Rams that year, in no small part due to the then 40-year-old Brad Johnson's linguine arm. Not that Brad didn't have a great career as a Super Bowl champion with Tampa Bay in 2002, and completing over 60% of his passes over more seasons than any other passer. It was just maddening to realize that by the time the Cowboys hadn't figured out in the 'Hard Knocks' preseason that Johnson was done and signed a street free agent in case McGee wasn't ready.
The Lure of Another UDFA QB from Illinois...
Enter Alex Tanney, who received a workout with the Cowboys this week and, lo and behold, the Boys just released Akron UDFA Dalton Williams tonight, suggesting they're ready to make a move and sign him. Tanney is a Division 3 phenom best known for his viral trick shot highlight video assembled to boost NFL team's interest after a remarkable career at tiny Monmouth, Illinois (not the same Monmouth that Jim Garrett scouted Miles Austin at in New Jersey). If memory serves me Tom Ryle of pet cats fame (or infamy) was the first BTBer to promote bringing in Tanney off the Chiefs' cuts during the 2012 preseason.
About Tanney's Competition this Week...
Tanney saw very limited action with the Kansas City Chiefs during the last preseason but was not in their plans when Andy Reid came in from Philadelphia and the Chiefs signed Alex Smith and Chase Daniel earlier this year.
While Tanney doesn't quite have HAS t he cannon as good or better an arm than his workout rival ex-SMU QB Kyle Padron has. Plus the 6"4 Illinois native offers better mobility for his size as a former state high school track champion [here's a clip of Tanney practicing his footwork with ex-Jets QB Chad Pennington]. Padron also apparently suffered a herniated disc during Southern Methodist workouts, which led to his transfer from SMU to Eastern Washington, where he was a teammate to [EWU now] Cowboys safety Matt Johnson. The Cowboys invited Padron to Dallas Days prior to the draft but notably didn't outbid the Oakland Raiders for his services during the UDFA signing period.
At any rate Oakland released the ex-Southlake Carroll star Padron, probably due to wanting to give more snaps to Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson in training camp. I'm sure even for a camp arm the Cowboys would have to take Padron's history of back problems into consideration, and hence I give the edge to Tanney in this week's workout competition and would be surprised if Dallas didn't sign him as early as Friday, July 19, 2013 (posting the date for you BTB readers in Europe/Asia where it's already tomorrow) [UPDATE: BTB front page confirms Tanney will sign and report to camp in Oxnard, California this weekend]. The only other quarterback brought in for workouts this week, ex-Rice and former Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Chase Clement, is unlikely to beat out current camp arm Nick Stephens.
Is Tanney's Potential Worth a Roster Spot?
I happen to think Alex will play well should he see extended time in preseason (and with five rather than the standard four exhibition games and better weapons than he had in KC, that's a strong possibility as sister site Arrowhead Pride points out). If he plays well, do you risk him to waivers knowing that there are a few teams out there that could use another backup QB prospect (including one in Tanney's back yard)? I think you have to keep him just like this team carried three QBs as Tony Romo developed from 2003 to 2005. Not because I expect Tanney to be the next Romo, they're two very different QBs in terms of style. Rather you keep Tanney as the third QB because you hope he develops into a QB who can bump Orton off this roster at final cuts in 2014 or at least by 2015 when Dallas drafts Romo's successor.
However, the price of keeping 3 QBs may be limiting this team's ability to carry 4 running backs or 6 wide receivers on the Week One 53 -- or carry 10 DL or 10 OL. I think however if you look at the roster from a special teams perspective and think someone like Jared Green delivers more as a gunner or even return man than Tanner can as a tackler and 4th running back, the choice is obvious (and especially if you think Kendial Lawrence is less likely to be poached than Tanney).
BONUS ROSTER PROJECTION:
Offense 25 (3 QB, 3 RB, 10 TE/WR, 9 OL)
3 QB Romo, Orton, A. Tanney (FA KC)
3 RB Murray, J. Randle (R5-151), Dunbar (KR)
Tanner gets cut, Boys roll with 3 RBs plus one on PS
4 TE Witten, Hannah, G. Escobar (R2 - 47), D. Rosario* (UFA CAR) (H-Back)
No budging from 4 TEs
6 WR Bryant, Austin (slot), T. Williams (R3 - 74), Harris (PR), Beasley (slot), J. Green (FA CAR) (KR)
Green is more healthy and faster at this point than Danny 'always open' and thus far injured Coale
4 OT T. Smith, Free, Parnell (swing OT), Weems (OG/RT)
Weems may move inside but not likely to be waived especially if Bernie is on the hot seat
5 OL Leary, T. Frederick (R-31) (OC), Bernadeau, Kowalski (G/C), Arkin (2nd G/C)
It's Bernie vs. Arkin and Costa here. I think Livings is gone at final cuts but Bernie holds off Arkin
Defense 25 (10 DBs - Wilcox/Moore the tag team special teams gunners, 6 LBs, 9 DL)
5 S Church, Johnson, W. Allen* (FA PIT), J.J. Wilcox (R3-80) (STG), J. Hamilton (R- UDFA SCSU)
Hamilton is likely to be inactive at the start of the season but could come on late in 2013 as CB/S hybrid
5 CB Carr, Claiborne, Scandrick (slot), B.W. Webb (R4 - 114) (backup slot), Moore (STG)
No surprises here
6 LB J. Durant (FA DET), Lee, Carter, S2 Albright, M2-D. Holloman (R6-185), W2-Sims
Moving Holloman to Mike could be a test for him but keeping Albright at backup SAM allows us to blitz more
4 DE Spencer, Ware, SDE2 Crawford (3t3), WDE2 Wilber
Wilber has shown signs of bulking up and getting pressure
5 DT Hatcher (1t), Ratliff (3t), Bass (1t2/SDE3), Lissemore (3t-2), Igbinosun* (1t3/SDE4) (FA PIT)
"Ike" beats out journeyman Nick Hayden for final DT/1 tech spot
Specialists - no changes likely here
1 K Bailey
1 P C. Jones
1 LS Ladoceur
Practice Squad Offense 3, Defense 5
1 RB K. Lawrence (R-UDFA Missouri) (KR/PR) - I think Kendial just barely loses competition to Dunbar
1 WR Coale (emergency punter) - Danny didn't get poached last season and I think he's PS'd again
1 OT Coughman* (FA SEA) - sleeper who could push Weems for final OL (OG/RT) spot
1 DE C. Sheffield* (FA KC) - insurance at the Will defensive end postion
1 S3/FB McSurdy - Not sure where to slot Caleb and that's why he's on the PS
1 M3 T. Reed (R-UDFA SMU) - The Tank showed up in OTAs let's see if he can keep it up in pads
1 W3 B. Macgee (R-UDFA Arizona St) - Macgee not quite ready to beat out Ernie Sims for final LB spot
1 S J. Heath (R-UDFA Saginaw Valley St) (STG) - intriguing prospect for the 2014 5th/ST safety spot
WR Benford (coming off surgery) - Tim may get some reprieve from the PUP list otherwise too much competition
OC Costa (to DET for 2014 6th round pick) - Costa is good trade bait for the Lions at OC
TE Cochart (to NE Patriots for 7th round pick) - Pats need bodies at TE