Tuesday will mark the official start to the Dallas Cowboys organized team activities where the coaches will finally be able to integrate their veterans and rookies to begin building their team. Football is not exactly here yet, but before we know it training camp will be and things will start to become more clear.
Before we start to all become glued to our Twitter feeds, there are few topics that are necessities for discussion. So, let's kick the tires...
It's A Tryout!
Speaking of kicking the tires, the Cowboys brought in some veterans at the running back and wide receiver positions respectively. Some notables such as Ben Tate and Felix Jones took most of the coverage but as with everything there is reaction and overreaction:
Ben Tate? Felix Jones? Come on Dallas, that's hilarious.— Kacey Kasem (@thekaceykasem) May 21, 2015
Daniel Thomas, Ben Tate & Felix Jones trying out for the Cowboys. Has there ever been a group of slower Running Backs mentioned in a tweet?— The Woot&Wye Podcast (@WootandWye) May 21, 2015
It's just a tryout, every team in the league has them before OTA's or training camps, it doesn't show desperation at all. As Stephen Jones has said multiple times, the acquisition phase is a 24/7, 365 day a year business. If you are not trying to see what is available, then your probably doing yourself a disservice. After seeing many of these types of headlines over the years, if the Cowboys don't sign them right away, then they are likely not in the cards.
We do know that the front office is seemingly behind Darren McFadden and that Joseph Randle has a certain of number of people in his corner, too. Trying out a few veteran running backs is not a condemnation of any of the guys on the roster. It's just what it is...a tryout, nothing more, nothing less.
Ray Rice Unicorn
Dallas Cowboys Must Look Into Signing RB Ray Rice: http://t.co/dqDOlJfb9g— NFL (@NFL_Links) May 22, 2015
Sticking with the theme of running backs brings me to my next thought. Ray Rice is a less viable option for me than Adrian Peterson. This of course is in the rumor mill after Rice's domestic violence case was dismissed earlier this week. Rice is able to sign with any team as a free agent and naturally the knee-jerk reaction always points in the direction of Dallas. Though nobody is condoning the acts that Rice committed, my reasons for not wanting him here do not stem from those events. Ray Rice is on the wrong side of the coin and after missing an entire season, who knows if anything is left? From 2009-2012, Ray Rice was one of the best running backs in the league, but look at this:
The decline from 2012 to 2013 is dramatic to say the least. Looking into the matter further determines that Rice wasn't slowed by injury, he's only missed seven games in this five-year span and only two games in 2013. He just stopped playing well. Now he's supposed to come into Dallas and turn back the clock to 2012 at age 28? It's not impossible, but rather improbable. I know, let's give him a tryout?!
I couldn't resist that last one. I would bet more money on getting the Texan's 2011 Ben Tate than Super Bowl caliber Ray Rice. The everlasting meme of every free agent being a Cowboy needs to die a horrible death.
Devin Street's Sophomore Potential
I'm really looking forward to seeing what Street has to offer the offense with his rookie year behind him. Bryan Broaddus has mentioned several times how high some coaches are on him. In fact, Derek Dooley told Broaddus that if given the chance that Terrance Williams got, he would have had similar if not better production. I've even heard some musings of letting him try kick and punt returns but don't know how plausible that is.
Dooley was very excited when the Cowboys drafted Street in 2014, but he was mainly used as a blocker last season. Realistically, almost every offensive Cowboys player was a blocker at some point with the success of the ground game. With the uncertainty surrounding Dez Bryant's contract extension, Street will get plenty of work in the offseason activities. Just for fun, I took a look at Street's SPARQ rating from the Field Gulls Blog. He was in the Top 20 of his class and had a SPARQ score 127.8, right below Pittsburgh's Martavis Bryant. If Street were in this year's class he would have ranked 13th and only 14 points off the leader Chris Conley.
Some folks tend to forget that Devin Street is Pitt's all-time leading receiver, I'm looking right at Larry Fitzgerald when I say this. Surely, there is a plan for a 6'3, 200 lbs receiver, at least I hope so.
Byron Jones At The Left?
I hear a lot of discussion both here in our community and on the various Cowboys' podcasts out there about Jones' ability to play free safety. Because we as fans have been so starved for that position since the departure of Woody, we tend to salivate at the idea. Not to say Jones couldn't do it, but his services at corner may be a greater need than playing single-high.
What seems to be the favorite is having Orlando Scandrick playing left corner and Byron Jones playing on the right with Brandon Carr splitting time off the bench. How about keeping the bigger corners like Jones and Carr on the outside with Scandrick playing in the slot during three-wide? Sure, it can be changed up to fit the opposing offense of that week, but with today's receivers...give me the big guys on the outside. Some folks will point to the new extension that Scandrick just signed as indication. That's a valid response, yet having the three best corners on the field at the same time seems more logical. The Cowboys have stated that they look to put Carr back on the right side where he's more comfortable. If Byron Jones is as good as advertised and is ready to play, get them all out there at once, no easing-in necessary.
Why Trade Unnatural Depth?
Lately, I've seen quite a few folks in the Twittersphere talking about trading away some of the Cowboys' offensive line depth. Why? The Cowboys are in a rare position that will see a healthy amount of competition this offseason and could be a highlight of training camp. At this point, there really isn't anything out there enticing enough to lose that depth. Just because La'el Collins is now a part of the equation doesn't mean that suddenly Ronald Leary isn't.
Right now the Cowboys' offensive line is made up of three first-round picks, another first-round talent, a third-round pick, a fourth, two seventh-rounders and a few undrafted free agents. This is going to be exciting watching guys fight it out for a few spots. If the right deal came along for something the Cowboys need in desperation then maybe, but it doesn't seem likely. There is no point in spending resources to get impeccable depth only to then turn around and trade it away. With the injuries to Doug Free and others in the past, depth is a great commodity to have.