As we await the 2010 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Part Deux reports from Oxnard, let's discuss which undrafted rookie free agents (UDFAs) have a shot a making the team. Now that we have two preseason games to fine-tune our scouting eyes, we know a little more about each of these players.
Soon after this April's draft ended, the Cowboys signed these 10 undrafted free agents:
FB/TE Chris Gronkowski, C Phil Costa, QB Matt Nichols, G Chet Teofilo, RB Lonyae Miller, S Barry Church, WR Terrell Hudgins, OT Will Barker, CB Bryan McCann, and G Mike Tepper.
But, after it was all said and done, the team ended up tacking on 8 more UDFAs which included NT Junior Aumavae, TE Nick Tow-Arnett, TE Scott Sicko, FS Danny McCray, WR Verran Tucker, P/K Delbert Alvarado, DE Lorenzo Washington, and WR Rashaun Greer.
18 sure is a whole heckuva lot of rookie free agents! For this post, I will concentrate on five: CBs Bryan McCann and the more recently signed Teddy Williams, WR Terrell Hudgins, FB/TE Chris Gronkowski, and TE Scott Sicko.
It seems that every season the Cowboys find at least one gem in the UDFA market. Surely, we all know about the Tony Romos, Sam Hurds, Miles Austins; and going way back, the Drew Pearsons, Cornell Greens, Everson Walls, Bill Bates' and Mark Tuineis to name a few.
Last season, Kevin Ogletree surpassed the practice squad to earn himself a spot on the 53-man roster. As a refresher, here are the lists of UDFAs the Cowboys have signed, post-draft, since Wade Phillips has taken over as head coach.
OG/C Travis Bright, QB Rudy Carpenter, WR Julian Hawkins, TE Jamar Hunt, OG Greg Isdaner, WR Kevin Ogletree, FB Asaph Schwapp, OT Michael Turkovich
WR Daniel Polk, WR Danny Amendola, TE Drew Atchison, WR Mark Bradford, OT Andrew Brecher, S Dowayne Davis, RB Keon Lattimore, FB Julius Crosslin, DT Marcus Dixon, G Brandon Hale, P Jay Ottovegio, DE Darrell Robertson
QB Matt Moore, C Steve Rissler, LB Blair Phillips, WR Jerard Rabb, RB Alonzo Coleman, FB Jackie Battle, NT Ola Dagunduro, WR Mike Jefferson, OL Robert Turner, TE Rodney Hannah
As you can see, these lists have yielded many a practice squad candidate--some of whom are still with the team, such as Bright and Dixon. Others like Isdaner, Amendola, and Moore were picked up by other NFL teams' 53-man rosters. Of course, many of these players are camp bodies, but being able to develop one or two per year helps build a team's depth from within.
Back to 2010. The Cowboys will field a solid team this year with considerable depth at several positions. Unfortunately, one of those positions--the tight end one--has been ravaged with injuries. This suggests that perhaps either one or both Chris Gronkowski and Scott Sicko have a legitimate shot at making the roster.
Sicko, a rather sought after UDFA who nearly shunned his football career to continue his academic pursuits, was held out of the Raiders' game because of a concussion he suffered against the Bengals. Still, he had quite a productive Hall of Fame Game, catching 5 balls for 44 yards, two of which resulted in first downs.
The Cowboys love their TE/FB/H-back hybrid guys. But behind Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett, the group is now rather thin. Sicko is a work in progress, as is Gronkowski; although, the brother of Dan (Lions TE) and Rob (Patriots TE) could give the team some flexibility at the hybrid position.
Former Arizona Wildcat Chris Gronkowski, an undrafted rookie fullback, has been catching the eye of Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips in training camp. The Cowboys opened the exhibition season over the weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In his evaluation a day later, Phillips said about Gronkowski, "For a rookie, I thought he played well." If Gronkowski makes the team, it will be in no small part because of his coachability and work ethic … and his ability to help on special teams helps, too.
Turning our attention to the cornerback position, that fourth spot is still up for grabs. Sure, reports surfaced that Cletis Gordon was running away from the rest of the pack during training camp. Gordon (neck), though, was one of those 13 players who missed the Raiders game. In his stead, youngsters Bryan McCann and Teddy Williams showed a little something covering Oakland's speedy receivers.
Like Gordon, McCann and Williams are two guys who can also help out on special teams. To make the 53, they will have to.
In the return department, McCann has one kickoff for 22 yards and 5 punt returns for 54, including a nifty 28-yarder against the Raiders. He also had good position in defending a deep sideline pass to the Raiders' superfast WR Louis Murphy. McCann is also credited with 3 solo tackles (NFL.com).
The former UTSA sprinter, Teddy Williams, has notched himself 4 tackles so far to go along with a heads-up fumble recovery against Oakland. Having been out of football for five years, Williams isn't intimidated at all by the physicality of the sport. He sure didn't show an aversion to contact on Thursday.
"I went after the ball full speed," Williams said. "(McFadden) actually had it and I took it from him. Then I just curled up into a ball and waited for the hit."
Williams, who also logged plays at cornerback in the second half, was asked how difficult it's been handling contact again.
"It wasn't too hard," he said. "I talked to one of my track coaches about that when I first decided to come back to football and he said, ‘Are you ready to get hit?' I was like, ‘Sometimes, coach, in this San Antonio heat, I'd rather get hit every day at practice than come out and run on this track in 100-degree weather.'
Okay, so I know the Cowboys are very deep at wideout; so, it would be tough for Terrell Hudgins to make the final 53. He would most likely have to beat out two former UDFA WRs in Sam Hurd and Kevin Ogletree. But throw Miles Austin's name in this group and you can see that the Cowboys have become pretty darn good at developing undrafted receivers.
So far, Hudgins has caught 3 passes for 57 yards for a nice 19-yard average per catch. He looks to run good routes and boasts a very experienced, very accomplished college receiving career.
Undrafted rookie free agent Terrell Hudgins, who graduated from Elon, broke many of Rice's FCS (formerly known as Division II) records.
He broke Rice's record for most career receiving yards (5250), most games of 100-plus receiving yards (28), average yards per game (116.7), touchdowns per game (1.2), and career receptions (395).
Shhh...bring him along slowly and you can stash him on the practice squad. The Cowboys were able to keep two WRs there last season in Manny Johnson and Jesse Holley. There has got to be room for a guy who breaks Rice's records, right?
Because of the high number of UFDAs this season, there is a legitimate chance that some of these guys will still be wearing stars on their helmets come 2011. And I haven't even discussed the offensive linemen, linebackers, running backs, and safeties yet.
For now, from the five featured here, who do you think has the best chance of making the final 53?