When Cole Beasley briefly left training camp and went home to Little Elm shortly after his initial season in the NFL began, many questioned if he really belonged in professional football. Two years later few would ask that question. The Dallas area native has firmly established himself as the Dallas Cowboys #3 receiver and he is beginning to expand his role beyond manning the slot for Scott Linehan's wide open offense. His combination of diminutive size and quickness is presenting challenges to the players he is working against.
"He’s like that little fly that you can’t catch in a box. He catches the ball really well. He changes directions really well and he’s really smart. He knows how to set up leverages. Cole’s got a really bright future." - Orlando Scandrick
His first two seasons in Dallas found the former UDFA out of SMU limited to being the Cowboys slot receiver, and Beasley performed well in the position. In 2014, Cole caught 39 passes for 368 yards despite being used almost exclusively as an underneath route guy. With a new offensive play-caller, Beasley will still be working underneath but he is being asked to go downfield as well.
The biggest benefit is that if Dallas can effectively move Beasley outside, then Dez Bryant will be able to work his routes from the slot receiver position and create mismatches that will make it easier for Tony Romo to get the ball in his hands. The strategy has tremendous implications for Bryant's season since it should help him become more involved in the Cowboys offense, but it will also have advantages for Cole Beasley as well. He is a known commodity as an underneath guy and teams are beginning to prepare for what Beasley can do to keep drives going. Expanding his own responsibilities by proving that he can go downfield effectively, allows Cole to force opponents to respect all of his abilities rather than focus on shutting him down under the umbrella. That will make him more of an asset to Romo no matter the down or distance. That is something the 5'7" "pesky" receiver is looking forward to.
"Until I start getting more routes downfield, they’re going to be clamping on me short because that’s all I’ve done in the past. Now I get a little bit more stuff, they’ll have to respect more things. I should be open a lot more, in my mind." - Cole Beasley
There are still some questions about the "little" guy being able to play outside. Those will remain until Beasley actually proves in in the place that counts, on the gridiron in a regular season game. Beasley faces a challenge this season, but it is one that he is beginning to prove that he can meet. For now the guys who try to cover him in practice are the ones who are seeing it, but soon it will be other groups of defensive backs who are faced with trying to deal with the little pest from Little Elm, Texas.