On Wednesday last week, Stephen Jones was pressed to name an undrafted rookie free agent he was particularly excited about, and he divulged a name: Rodney Coe, a defensive tackle from the University of Akron.
"There are reasons he didn't get drafted," Jones said. "But he certainly has a lot of ability and I think a coach like Rod Marinelli will do wonders for him in terms of his up and down career. We will give him some stability. He certainly has all the ability and all the skills. It's just getting his mind around being a football player and being accountable and doing what it takes to be successful. But he certainly has the ability."
And Rod Marinelli is excited about Coe's potential as well.
"He's really a good athlete," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "He was a tailback in JC too, so you know me and movement. He's a big man. He's light on his feet. He's just working. He's got to get in shape better. He's a big, athletic man, and he could play the nose position in a heartbeat. Being an athlete, and just from what I've seen movement-wise, I really like him. I'm excited to have him here."
Technically that makes Coe their pet cat.
"Pet Cat" is a Parcells-ism, a term Bill Parcells popularized among Cowboys fans during his tenure as head coach in Dallas. The term initially referred to a prospect a coach, scout or owner had taken a particular liking to, often based on little more than a whim, and whom they would then try to draft, regardless of what the scouting consensus was.
Among Cowboys fans, pet cat has since come to refer to a player who is a bubble player (even making the practice squad is often considered pet cat success) and is commonly selected from the very bottom of the roster where you'll find late-round draft picks, undrafted free agents or even street free agents. The pet cat is often - and preferably - chosen without the slightest factual or quantifiable basis. In fact, some would argue that you do not choose your pet cat, your pet cat chooses you.
Every year after rookie minicamp, we ask our members to commit to their pet cats for the season. And we kick it off by having the front page writers select their pet cats; here's who they picked:
Joey Ickes: Rodney Coe, Defensive Tackle Akron
Rodney Coe was one of Dallas' "8th round picks" who took top-30 visits with the team leading up to the draftable became priority free agents after their picks were gone. His story to this point is fascinating and being a 6'2" 315 lb former running back his skill set as an interior disruptor is equally so. David Irving's former Iowa State teammate is EXACTLY the kind of player who could thrive under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett, and I will be watching his development closely.
Dave Halprin: Rico Gathers, Power Forward, Baylor
The longest of longshots. You have to root for a guy who hasn't played football since he was 13 who suddenly decides to play football in the NFL - and then manages to get himself drafted. We keep saying we need to find a replacement for Jason Witten someday, so what a story it would be if his replacement, after using multiple draft picks on tight ends out of college over the years, turns out to be a power forward. Meow!
OCC: Jack Brendel, OC, UCLA.
Like a stray cat with a blind eye, the big uglies don't get a lot of attention during pet cat time. But I've been banging the SPARQ drum so hard the last two years, this pet cat found me when I wasn't even looking. Brendel has a SPARQ in the 86th percentile, the highest value of any UDFA the Cowboys brought in, and the second highest of this entire rookie class, so he is my natural choice.
It also doesn't hurt that he ticks a lot of other boxes the Cowboys value:
- Reliability: four-year starter who started every one of the 52 games he played in, a UCLA record.
- Leadership: team co-captain for three consecutive years.
- Intelligence: received numerous academic honors, including Academic All-Conference selections in 2014 and 2015.
Dan Rogers: Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue
Brown is a great "look past the results" player. The Boilermaker secondary was atrocious, but he was the lone bright spot. I heard that there were multiple teams that had day two grades on him, so snagging in the sixth round was a steal. Brown has good speed, possesses solid skills as a tackler, and has the hands to haul in the picks. But my favorite thing about him is his character. He graduated with a degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. Yes, he's one of those "potential" guys, but with great character, he's got a good shot at maximizing it. He's like a Sterling Moore with upside and I think he's got a good shot to log some snaps in 2016.
Thomas Duck: Chris Brown, WR, Notre Dame
Brown is an intriguing player. He is 6'2" and weighs in at 190 lbs. Brown is a very good athlete and an excellent route runner. He played his last three seasons at Notre Dame with Houston Texans first rounder Will Fuller. Fuller was a true number one receiver at the college level and Brown was the Robin to Fuller's Batman. Brown is a player who may have a real chance to pick of some of the bottom feeders on this wide receiver depth chart and earn a spot on the 53 man roster.
Michael Sisemore: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Sure he needs a little work with ball placement but this is a kid that has the arm talent, intangibles, and mobility/ awareness in the pocket to be far more than a career backup. No FPW was happier than I was to see the Cowboys get him with that 4th round comp pick. Dak is athletic and mobile but actually threw the ball with a great completion percentage (63% average in college). Some folks might lack the enthusiasm for Dak, but he is in the best position to succeed in the NFL. Joey is not sold on mid-round quarterbacks but Prescott could end up changing his mind as well as anyone else's. He's a guy you root for with far more talent than a lot of passers that were on the board and dare I say some that were off it. He improved every single year in college, if he can become a sponge around Romo, there is no telling what his ceiling can be. #HailState
Jim Scott: Charles Tapper, DE, Oklahoma
If you were engineering a pass rusher from scratch, you'd build Charles Tapper. That is not an exaggeration. He's literally physically perfect for the position. Now, as you might expect from someone who was drafted in the fourth round, he is something of a project and he's going to need a great deal of coaching up.
If only Dallas had some sort of defensive line guru that could mold this raw lump of clay into a refined pass rushing machine...
Ryan Ratty: Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan
I was surprised when the Cowboys double-dipped at the running back position in the draft. But after watching film of Jackson, it's clear that the Cowboys are onto something with this pick. Dallas loves the SPARQ analytic and Jackson is the prime example of one. He's an athletic freak at 6'0, 220 pounds. He excels in planting his feet and changing directions quickly. In Jackson, the Cowboys not only get a guy who fits what they want to go going forward at the position. But he provides a change-of-pace element that the Cowboys would benefit from. Ezekiel Elliott is going to be incredible behind this offensive line, but Jackson will be a nice player to spell Elliott. I think both Lance Dunbar's and Darren McFadden's jobs are in jeopardy with a guy like Jackson on the roster.
Dawn Macelli: Andy Jones, WR, Jacksonville State
I like his chances, and it appears that the team does as well. The Cowboys gave him the larges signing bonus of any UDFA. This guy is Mr. Explosive, just look at his measurables. The thing is that he might make the team as a WR and kick return specialist or he may switch sides and become a project as a cornerback. Jason Garrett likes options, and Jones will give him that.
Did I mention that Dallas gave him their biggest UDFA signing bonus? They have plans for this kid.
Special Quarantine Section
After a three-year ban from all pet cat related activities, we're allowing Tom Ryle to participate in this exercise again. If only he had picked someone else ...
Tom Ryle: Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan
Sixth round picks from small schools seldom make NFL rosters, but he may just be more than a guy who can hope at best for a practice squad spot. He is 6-0 and 220 lbs. His SPARQ is the highest of all the Dallas rookies, and one of the highest in the entire draft. He looks like a great fit for the zone blocking scheme. And with Lance Dunbar expected to be on PUP to start the season, he may be able to fill that role. Dallas only has six RBs on the roster at the moment, and one of them, Rod Smith, is trying to move to fullback. Jackson has an excellent opportunity to prove he can fill a need for the Cowboys. He is a direct threat to Daren McFadden, despite whatever the team may say publicly.
Now that you've seen which players the BTB writers have picked as their pet cats, check out the up-to-the-minute Cowboys roster below and tell us:
Who is your pet cat to make the roster this year?
|Returning Players: Opening Day Roster 2015||Returning Players: Joined via practice squad
|1||Bryant, Dez||WR||48||Mayle, Vince||WR|
|2||Smith, Tyron||T||49||Mitchell, Terrance||CB|
|3||Leary, Ronald||G||50||Moore, Kellen||QB|
|4||Frederick, Travis||C||51||Olatoye, Deji||CB|
|5||Martin, Zack||G||52||Showers, Jameill||QB|
|6||Free, Doug||T||53||Smith, Rodney||WR|
|7||Witten, Jason||TE||54||Walker, Casey||DT|
|8||Williams, Terrance||WR||2016 Free Agent acquisitions|
|9||Romo, Tony||QB||55||Hartson, Brandon||LS|
|10||Lawrence, Demarcus||DE||56||Looney, Joe||OL|
|11||Crawford, Tyrone||DE||57||Mayowa, Benson||DE|
|12||Wilber, Kyle||DE||58||Morris, Alfred||RB|
|13||Hitchens, Anthony||OLB||59||Thornton, Cedric||DL|
|14||Lee, Sean||LB||60||Wile, Matt||K|
|15||Carr, Brandon||CB||2016 Reserve/Future signings|
|16||Claiborne, Morris||CB||61||Akunne, Derek||LB|
|17||Church, Barry||S||62||Harris, Jerrell||LB|
|18||Wilcox, J.J.||S||63||McAdoo, Mike||DE|
|19||Bailey, Dan||K||64||McGee, Brandon||CB|
|20||Jones, Chris||P||65||Renfrow, Justin||OT|
|21||Beasley, Cole||WR||66||Smith, Jared||G|
|22||Whitehead, Lucky||WR||67||Smith, Keith||LB|
|23||Street, Devin||WR||2016 Draft picks|
|24||McFadden, Darren||RB||68||Brown, Anthony||DB|
|25||Dunbar, Lance||RB||69||Collins, Maliek||DT|
|26||Jones, Byron||FS||70||Elliott, Ezekiel||RB|
|27||Heath, Jeff||S||71||Frazier, Kavon||FS|
|28||Gachkar, Andrew||LB||72||Gathers, Rico||TE|
|29||Wilson, Damien||LB||73||Jackson, Darius||RB|
|30||Crawford, Jack||DE||74||Prescott, Dak||QB|
|31||Hanna, James||TE||75||Smith, Jaylon||LB|
|32||Escobar, Gavin||TE||76||Tapper, Charles||DE|
|33||Ladouceur, L.P.||LS||2016 Undrafted Free Agents|
|34||Gregory, Randy||DE||77||Azubike, Caleb||DE|
|35||McClain, Terrell||DT||78||Brendel, Jake||C|
|36||Collins, La'el||G||79||Brown, Chris||WR|
|37||Swaim, Geoff||TE||80||Coe, Rodney||DT|
|38||Russell, Ryan||DE||81||Colquhoun, Arjen||CB|
|Returning Players , IR/PUP/NFI||82||Eagan, Ed||WR|
|39||Green, Chaz||OT||83||Hedelin, David||T|
|40||McClain, Rolando||LB||84||Jones, Andy||WR|
|41||Nzeocha, Mark||LB||85||King, Deon||LB|
|42||Scandrick, Orlando||CB||86||Mack, Ryan||T|
|Returning Players, Acquisitions / Waiver Claims||87||McKinnon, Jeremiah||CB|
|43||Brown, Charles||OT||88||Neill, Jason||DE|
|44||Butler, Brice||WR||89||Stiverson, Boston||G|