Chris Wesseling presents a very well-reasoned argument for how the Dallas Cowboys are one of the teams trying to zig while the rest of the league zags. With most of the NFL focused on the passing game, and therefore building their defense to stop the pass, they have a vulnerability that the Cowboys were able to exploit in 2014, and they clearly hope to duplicate the formula this year, only better. The drafting of Ezekiel Elliott is a key part of that strategy.
With Elliott leading the backfield and Dez Bryant winning on the outside, Tony Romo is set up to direct what could be the league's most well-balanced offense, capable of converting third down after third down to burn the clock, shorten games and keep a suspect Dallas defense off the field.
"Ezekiel Elliott could play for every team in the league," former Browns general manager Phil Savage told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel leading up to the draft. "Derrick Henry is not for every team in the league."
Cowboys radio color man Babe Laufenberg is one media guy who is totally happy with the Elliott pick.
Elliott has a chance to honestly be something crazy special. When I was talking about Elliott and people said, 'You don't need Elliott because that offensive line would make an average back good.' But I said, 'Why not make a great back a Hall of Famer?'
The building of the roster is a process, to coin a phrase, and that continues.
The Cowboys added one of their workout invitees to the roster on Tuesday, as they signed rookie tight end Austin Traylor.
The team released rookie long snapper Brandon Hartson to make room for Traylor, who signed after going undrafted out of Wisconsin.
Although it became something of a moot point since the San Diego Chargers, who were ahead of Dallas in the waiver order, claimed Zach Mettenberger, all indications were that the Cowboys had no interest in him.
This shouldn't be necessarily read as a vote of confidence for No. 2 QB Kellen Moore; the Cowboys will keep an eye out all summer for other cheap solutions behind starter Tony Romo. But a lack of interest in Mettenberger — who probably had a sixth- or seventh-round grade from Dallas as a college player — should be taken as a sign that the Cowboys have their "young prospect to develop'' in rookie fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, who will be the No. 3 QB here ahead of another youngster, Jameill Showers.
Although he showed some flashes with the Oakland Raiders, new Dallas defensive end Benson Mayowa remains very much an unproven quantity for most. And he's just fine with that.
"I haven't really scratched the surface yet," Mayowa said. "I'd rather be low key and then people will be like, 'Who is this guy? Where did he come from?' I'm not loud. I don't want to talk about anything. I'm not about to brag or boast about anything. But when I ball, then [it's], 'Who is this guy?' That's what I like. Football will take care of itself."
According to Sturm, Maliek Collins was the player the Cowboys targeted all along at 67. Although he has some things he needs to improve (mostly a lot of close but no cigar plays in the opponents' backfield), the defensive coordinator has a very specific role in mind for him.
Rod Marinelli, who is incredibly particular about who he wants and what he wants to do with him, sees Collins as a pure 3-technique play who has the traits to be that coveted 3-down inside player who can rush the passer, destroy run plays with penetration, and spend plenty of time in the offensive backfield rerouting running plays and moving QBs off their throwing spots.
One player that is going to be closely scrutinized in training camp, and may find himself in a real battle for his spot on the depth chart, is Terrance Williams. Last season, with Dez Bryant ailing, he did not step up the way the Cowboys needed him to. And his consistency problems go back further than that.
One of the most dichotomous WRs in the NFL, one moment he delivers a mind-blowing catch such as the toe-dragger in Seattle (2014); and the next moment he's dropping a wide open pass down the sidelines for a critical first down. He's seen stretches of six touchdowns in the first seven games only to then muster a quiet two the remainder of the same season (2014).
One very entertaining camp battle may be among the three cornerbacks vying to become the fourth man on the depth chart, Terrance Mitchell, Deji Olatoye, and rookie Anthony Brown.
The Cowboys will likely carry six corners in 2016 but there's a big difference between being the fourth guy and the sixth guy on the roster. The fourth corner will see some significant playing time on defense and is just an injury away from becoming a starter. The sixth corner will mostly play on special-teams, if at all?
Todd Archer looks at the bonuses handed out to some of Dallas' UDFAs to try and figure out who has the best chance of making the roster. However, it might be wise to remember that, not counting the fully guaranteed deal given to La'el Collins, who was a special case, the biggest bonus in 2015 went to George Farmer.
There are very few teammates in the NFL that are as close as Tony Romo and Jason Witten. We all know that the Cowboys' 2016 season will largely be determined by the kind of year Romo has, and Witten wants to reassure everyone that he is doing all he can to get the job done.
"I think anytime there's an injury like that and you miss a long time, he's as motivated as anybody I've been around in that situation," Witten said. "He's working hard and continuing to push himself to be a better player. I know he's going to come back. I don't just say it to believe it. I know he'll be back leading the charge for us because he's worked really hard to get himself in position to be back. He does it every year, that process. He stays true to it and with the competitor the way he is, I think we all are excited to see him."
The idea of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas is starting to get some support among the owners, and Jerry Jones has been publicly leading the way. But, as reporter Mike Freeman points out, there is a very big "if" for him.
"Jones did make his statement with an important caveat," Freeman pointed out. "He said he was open to a team in Vegas with 'the right ownership.' What I'm told is that for years Jones has been pushing for Mark Davis to sell the Raiders--or, at the very least, to relinquish control of the team.
"The feeling is that Davis is incapable of maximizing revenues and the brand, creating value for the team and league, improving the league or advancing its goals or agenda in general. (Other than that, Jones loves him.)"