Dallas Cowboys Ben Bass Is A Forgotten Man, For Now

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Cowboys need help along the defensive line, but may have a worthy candidate forgotten by the masses.

Nowadays, everybody gotta talk like they got something to say, but nothing comes out when they move their lips, just a bunch of gibberish, and ***-****** act like they forgot about...

Ben.

How a 6'5", almost 300-pound man becomes forgotten is a tall order, pun intended. It shouldn't be a surprise though, considering that Ben Bass has amassed all of one assist in his two-year NFL career. In those two campaigns, he's been placed on season-ending injured reserve twice; once with an ankle injury and last year he dislocated his shoulder right before the first game of the season against the New York Giants.

Dallas' 2014 projected defensive line rotation has been the conversation du jour since.. oh about the final snap of the 2013 season. The Cowboys seemed pretty destined to lose both Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer to free agency, and had a huge question mark surrounding whether or not they would keep Demarcus Ware. When free agency finally opened and Dallas quickly found itself without any of the three, serious panic set in. That was only exasperated early last week as two older veteran targets, Henry Melton and Jared Allen escaped the headquarters at Valley Ranch without Dallas locking them into an agreement.

This isn't to question strategy here. For what Hatcher and Ware were paid by their new teams (silly Dan Snyder, paying "3-tech penetrator" money for a 3-4 DE), there was no mistake; Dallas was right not to move forward with those players. Obviously things turned out very, very well in the Melton situation as he ended up signing with the team for a contract amount that should make every Cowboys fan giddy.

Anthony Spencer is apparently limping around the country promising teams that he'll eventually be ready to play. Financially, for now, the actions in regards to these players are all the correct moves. However, no one can deny that Dallas is considerably weaker along the defensive line than where they wanted to be, or finished at, in 2013. And if you haven't elected for a labotomy, you remember they didn't exactly finish last year sitting pretty.

No matter what you may want to believe, Henry Melton has never had a season like what Jason Hatcher just turned in; it's disingenuous to consider his signing an upgrade for 2014. For the long run? It should be, if he returns to form and Dallas picks up his package option. For one year though, breaking even is a goal, not an assumed Mendoza Line.

Fact is, Dallas needs additional bodies at the 3-tech position and all along the line. For one, there is no guarantee that Melton's surgically repaired knee will allow him to be the player he was in 2012. Second, and just as important, teams play a nickel defense for up to 60% of the defensive snaps in a game. For a 4-3 team, that means there will be two "under" tackles, manning the 3-technique spot on the line.

These are all reasons why Dallas should still heavily consider drafting Aaron Donald, but also reasons to be thankful that Bass is on the roster. But why should we consider Bass as anything other than just a guy? We saw signs in last year's camp that Bass had the ability to be a solid rotation guy.

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With all the talk this offseason over what Dallas has to do at the 3-tech position in order to have any kind of defensive success, it's easy to forget that Ben Bass should be in the mix.

Two years ago, Bass was a little-known entity trying to make the club off a wing and a prayer. However, it was clear early that he was a much better player than what was seen of him at Texas A&M. Bass made an impression from his first pro game, a preseason tilt against Oakland.

- The Cowboys defense had two clear second half stars; Adrian Hamilton and Ben Bass. They were all over the backfield in the second half and continuously made life difficult for Pryor. Bass ended up with four tackles and a sack. Both players might have earned an opportunity to play against more than the oppositions third-teamers.

In fact, Dallas had seen everything they needed to see. The team basically hid him for the rest of the 2012 preseason!

Ben Bass had an outstanding Week One preseason game and Dallas has been trying to hide him in hopes of sneaking him onto the practice squad. The problem is, teams have already noticed him. Bryan Broaddus said yesterday that there were seven scouts he sat with at that Oakland game and most of them really liked what they saw; including teams that would make him a 4-3 DE.

It worked, and Bass would improve his skillset to the point of being called up to the big club that November. He was on injured reserve less than a month later.

Last summer in Oxnard, as the Cowboys were preparing for the season, they were of course missing Jay Ratliff. At the time, Dallas' plans were to have a rotation of Ratliff and Hatcher as the three-techniques, but "Jeremiah" was busy faking his way off the team. Here's what then-impending free agent Hatcher had to say about Bass.

"Bass has it all," Cowboys starting defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. "Bass is going to be the reason I’m playing on a different team next year. He’s coming on. He’s coming on. I just have to keep my job security, keep playing my butt off." - DMN

That's not exactly the way things went down, but it's clear that Hatcher was impressed with Bass' ability. It didn't just start last summer, either. Here's what Hatcher had to say about Bass prior to being called up to the 53-man roster in November 2012.

Jason Hatcher says Ben Bass 'has been kicking you-know-what on the practice squad all year against our 1 offensive line.'

Hatcher went on to say that Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford 'are the future here. I'm just going to enjoy my time, play my butt off, while I'm here.' - Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

One key is these high praises came from Bass performing at positions other than 3-tech. He had been moved to defensive end last camp, thanks to injuries to Spencer and Tyrone Crawford. In 2012, Bass was playing 5-tech in the Cowboys 3-4 alignment. Suffice to say, he's been getting glowing recommendations up and down the line.

Head coach Jason Garrett talked about his ascent from obscurity prior to that 2012 call up.

"Great example of guy, came in presented with an opportunity," coach Jason Garrett said. "You try to draft guys as well as you can draft them, then you sign guys as well as you can sign them after and you think you know more about some than the other guys. We liked him, but from Day 1 he came in and showed us be belonged here in some way, shape or form.

"He really took advantage of the opportunities. He learned. He grew before our eyes and just made a lot of plays both defending the run and also rushing the passer. He’s the guy, kind of came from nowhere, certainly from obscurity and showed us he deserved to be on this football team." - ESPN Dallas

What kind of obscurity? Try not even being invited to Dallas Day even though he hails from Plano, TX and attended Texas A&M University. Here's a profile I wrote on Bass when he was simply another UDFA trying to make the team:

So, just who is this Ben Bass guy? He's a hard person to develop a profile for; but he obviously performed well enough in his rookie-minicamp tryout for the Dallas Cowboys to make the team sign him to the 90th and final roster spot available. Ben Bass plays defensive end and hails from Texas A&M and he's been added to the list of possibilities as Dallas attempts to garner more pressure from it's defensive front.

Bass stands 6'4" and weighs in at 285 lbs. Coming out of school, he seems to be the prototypical height/weight for what the Cowboys look for in a defensive end. Of course, Texas A&M wasn't known for their defensive prowess though as Bass amassed only two sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses in his final year as an Aggie.

Well, his second "final" year. In an interesting twist, it appears that Bass left the Aggie program after Mike Sherman's first year at the helm due to both football and academic reasons. He righted his ship however, cracking down on the books and earning his way back into school before earning his way back onto the football team.

"I [also] think that commitment lasts until your playing time is over. I'm real big on commitment and I'm real big on finishing what I started, and what I started was A&M and I have to finish." - AggieSports.com

That re-dedication makes Bass intriguing; though Dallas didn't invite him to Valley Ranch for a pre-draft visit despite him attending Plano West. It made sense, as he wasn't ranked by any of the "draft gurus", including Drafttek's 400 name database. Fortunately, one of Drafttek's key evaluators, Long Ball, is a Blogging The Boys member and provided us with the following insight.

"Outstanding prep career at Plano West High School (saw him play a few games) and was in a recruiting "tug-of-war" between OU and A&M . . . went to Aggie-land and had a so-so career, hurt more by lack of talent on defense as much as anything. Has an NFL-ready body for a 3-4 DE at 6'4" and 285, quick off the snap, needs to be coached up on recognition."

Humble beginnings to say the least. Now, Bass enters his third season with the team which is normally the "light switch" year for players from meager profile pedigrees. We all know the Cowboys ability to hit on seventh-round and UDFA players, so we shouldn't be shocked to see Bass emerge as another success story. When the draft comes around May 8th-10th, don't become alarmed if Dallas doesn't flood the interior defensive line 4 or 5 picks.

Honestly speaking, Bass isn't in a position to prevent them from spending resources. Just looking at him being rated 43 out of 53 roster spots during last year's preseason says temper expectations. However he is certainly in a position to provide Dallas with the quality depth they need for a viable, stocked rotation.

If his career follows the trajectory I think it will, Ben Bass might be in need of a different theme song.

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