We’ve heard all kinds of names bandied about as the next breakout player for the Dallas Cowboys. Safety Byron Jones has been a popular choice since he burst onto the scene as a rookie and showed amazing versatility and ability. It’s safe to say that Ezekiel Elliott will breakout and be on his way to stardom if everything goes to plan. I guess you could throw Dak Prescott’s name into the discussion now that he’s going to get some playing time as a starter.
But how about newcomer Cedric Thornton? When SB Nation put the question of who would be the breakout player on each team to former NFL-player-turned-sports-analyst Stephen White, he chose the free agent signee from Philly for the Cowboys.
First, White’s criteria for picking a breakout player.
- Must be two years removed from college, no rookies.
- Represents a dramatic positive jump from previous seasons. So they could go from bench to playing time, part-time starter to starter, or starter to Pro Bowl.
So why Thornton? One reason is he was kind of overshadowed in Philadelphia where they had an outstanding defensive line. Also, Thornton may have been playing a little bit out of position with the Eagles according to White.
I actually believe Thornton is better suited to be in a 4-3 attacking style defense like what Dallas runs, anyway. He more than held his own in Philly, but I thought he looked a lot better on the occasions when he had a chance to be in a gap or stunting laterally rather than when he had to try to two gap. The fact that Thornton still found a way to be productive against the run when not on an edge is probably going to translate into him being even more of a beast now that he gets to play in the gaps.
From what we’ve seen on tape so far, this looks to be true. Thornton has a quick jump and can power his way through gaps to disrupt the backfield.
White also likes Thornton’s versatility and can see the Cowboys using him all along the defensive line. In the end, with all the injuries and suspensions along the Cowboys defensive line, Thornton should have the opportunity to really showcase his abilities.
So what do you say BTB? By the end of the year will we be saying “how the heck did we get Thornton, the guy is a beast!”