Last week, I wrote about the defensive players that could be solid contributors for the Cowboys this season and help them achieve even more success. As also stated previously, your team is only as good as the quality of depth players surrounding the stars. It took a few seasons but Dallas has found a method for building a solid depth chart with players ready to contribute.
Today, we're going to focus on some of the Cowboys offensive players that should be ready for more playing time in 2015. It's great to have guys like Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, but let's look at some guys that will be behind them ready for the call.
La'el Collins OT/OG
It's not a given that Collins is going to be a starter for the Cowboys this season. He'll certainly get every opportunity to win a job most likely at left guard, but he still must beat out incumbent Ronald Leary. Collins, unfortunately, was robbed of his chance to hear his name called in the first round. He's been getting a ton of reps at both guard and tackle this offseason in the absence of Doug Free. He's got the pedigree and skill set to play both, but his likely spot will be at guard. Collins is an impressive athlete and he has mauler tendencies that should fit really well with this current group. If a first-round talent along the offensive line is going to be a rotational guy or possible swing tackle, talk about quality of depth right there.
Mackenzie Bernadeau OG/C
Another player that could probably start somewhere in the NFL, Bernadeau has been a really good insurance policy for the Cowboys. He's got position flexibility just like Collins, but Bernadeau is also a veteran who shown the coaches that he can play well if needed. He's not too far removed from being the starting right guard of this team. The Cowboys have quietly not only built the best starting line in football, but they also have some backup players that could be considered the envy of the league. Bernadeau is another mauler-type but has developed his technique more efficiently under Bill Callahan. He's a very fluid athlete with a good amount of football smarts to handle center duties if needed. Bernadeau is just one of many that should be able to keep the Cowboys afloat if they find themselves in a pinch.
His name comes first when it comes to quality contributors at the position. Beasley has turned into a third-down converting machine and converted an amazing 13 of 17 third-down passes. He's so quick that it becomes extremely difficult finding ways to cover him. Beasley also caught 76% of his targeted throws which is absolutely insane. He comes from that June Jones school of just get open. His ability to continuously find creases in the defense makes him a go-to guy for Tony Romo. Beasley should have an increased role this season and with that I fully expect his numbers to increase. Down the stretch is where he proved most valuable having and arguable dominating performance in Chicago. Cole Beasley has become a special player for this Cowboys' offense.
One positive to Dez Bryant not being at practice has been the increased reps for Devin Street. Wide receivers' coach Derek Dooley has been very open about how much he like Street and his abilities. He even stated that given the same opportunity as Terrance Williams, Street could be the same caliber player or better. Street came to Dallas lacking strength and the muscle tone for his position. After a year in the system, he's built more muscle to his frame and should be able to develop more strength. Street is a hands guy. He's got nice speed and good hands to make plays. In his first year, he primarily worked as a blocking receiver and didn't get many opportunities. That should change this season and Street could wind up carving out a nice role for himself this season. The receivers on this team look to be a mixed bag of weapons for Tony Romo.
When the Cowboys lost Dwayne Harris, they lost a key contributor to their success on offense. He may not have been the quality of receiver they were looking for, but his ability in the return game was excellent. Lucky Whitehead has been garnering some attention in these practices and for good reason. When given the opportunity, he has been far and away the best option to fill the return-man position. He also has been rumored to be a better route runner than Harris was. With the crowded depth in the receiver and tight end positions, Whitehead just needs to focus on making a difference on special teams. Not enough credit is given to a guy that can put the offense in good position to score. Whitehead is focused on being that for the Cowboys and so far all good things are being said about his abilities.
This is a harder position to dissect for the Cowboys due to the uncertainty of who will emerge. For now, this position must be omitted from the list until we see more visual evidence. All of the backs currently have pieces to their game that may separate them from one another, but nothing is concrete yet. In fact, most of you know that I'm in the same boat with Bryan Broaddus and believe this isn't over yet. Though we've discussed the RBBC approach all summer long, the coaches would still be thrilled to see a leader come forth. Until then, the depth at running back is an unsolved mystery.