Big things are expected out of a first round draft pick, and perhaps no one expects more out of Ezekiel Elliott than the five men who will be in the trenches blocking their tails off to give the rookie every opportunity to prove himself up to the level of his draft pedigree. You can bet that the offensive line will be keeping close tabs on Zeke's progress since it is so closely linked with their own success.
With OTA's on the horizon there will be plenty of opportunity for the big uglies to observe and have their say. For now though, it seems that they are liking what they have seen.
"It seems like he's picking things up pretty quickly, which is what you like to see," said center Travis Frederick, per the Dallas Morning News. "Early on, you see a mistake here or there, but you see less and less throughout time. So, hopefully once we get into OTAs, in a team atmosphere, we can get a really good evaluation."
"He's a good kid," left tackle Tyron Smith said. "He's willing to come to work and willing to take advice. He's the right type of guy."
Elliot was not the only player to draw praise from his colleagues. Word is that La'el Collins is also getting kudos from his fellow linemen.
"Oh, so much better," Martin said, per the Dallas Morning News. "You can already see it with [Collins]. He's been awesome this offseason. You can just tell he's more comfortable. He has a great feeling for what's going on, really coming to work every day. So, we're excited to get everyone together."
Since we are talking about guys drafted inside the top ten in their draft class, let's check in on Mo Claiborne. The former sixth overall draft pick has yet to live up to his billing, but the team still thinks he can be a starting caliber NFL corner. He will be trying to prove that on a one year deal signed right after the season. Mo tells Mike Fisher that he is ready this time around.
"It feels real good to be back, especially back here in Dallas, back with some guys that I’m used to and some guys that I love with all of my heart," Claiborne said this week from the team’s charity home-run contest in Frisco. "I knew I wanted to stay in Dallas. I knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be. … It’s the only place I know, so I’m used to the guys and the coaches.’’
For T-Will it is going to come down to a numbers game, is he going to deliver the kind of numbers on the field that will force the Cowboys to be willing to put the kind of numbers he will want in his bank account.
The wide receiver is on the last year of his rookie deal, and barring a melt down or serious injury he will be looking at a serious payday during the off-season. The only question is will he make himself so critical to the team, that the money he receives comes out of Jerry Jones wallet? Archer takes a look at the challenge that Williams will face on the business side of things if he wants to stay in Dallas.
But the decision on Williams goes beyond the receiver position. On Wednesday, Ezekiel Elliott signed his four-year, $24.9 million deal. The Cowboys have picked up the 2017 option on Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, which is worth $8.8 million. They have the 2018 option to think about next spring on Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin. They would like to sign Frederick and Martin to long-term deals, if possible.
They also have Tony Romo set to make $14 million and Jason Witten set to make $7.4 million in 2017.
Wilcox has been given opportunities to prove he could make the switch to defense at the pro level and thus far he has not lived up to the team's expectations. With Byron Jones making the anticipated move to safety on an official basis, the former receiver turned DB is going to find himself facing tough competition for his job.
"It's competition. It's the way the business goes. It's the way of the world. You have to go out and put your best foot down and maybe on film and every time the camera is on. So, like I said, there's competition all over the field, the strong safety spot, free safety spot. Still, you never know what might happen because of OTA's and camp. So, I'm going to do my best from the beginning from the start." - J J Wilcox
In a staff report, the crew over at the mothership is taking a pre-OTA look at the state of Jason Garrett's roster. The most recent look involves the defensive line. There are many questions revolving around this unit, and just as many possible answers to choose from. For the Cowboys it is going to come down, in part at least, to making the right choices.
The defensive line hasn’t gone unaddressed, though. The Cowboys signed four-year veteran Cedric Thornton to a four-year, $17 million contract in March. They followed that up with the unconventional decision to extend a three-year, $8.2 million offer to unproven pass rusher Benson Mayowa, formerly with the Oakland Raiders. The front office also spent two premium draft picks on the pass rush. Massive Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins was drafted No. 67 overall, and Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper was taken with the 101st overall pick.
Those additions will join the likes of Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain in the rotation. There’s a fair amount of talent, to be sure. But the goal for the Cowboys will be trying to make the most of a group of pass rushers that are largely unproven on the NFL level.
I always like to end on a light note, and it came down to this or coverage of the DCC auditions, and I know BTB readers are not in to cheerleaders so I chose this,
"I thought Ohio State fans were crazy," Elliott said, "but Dallas Cowboys fans are even more crazy. Passionate fans, man. Very passionate." - Ezekiel Elliott
I have seen those characters at the Horseshoe in Columbus and how passionate they can be. I am going to take this as high praise from Zeke.
Oh, and if you are really bored and want to check in on the cheerleaders, here is that link too.