Earlier this week the Dallas Cowboys made a somewhat predictable move. (If I had a penny for every one of those... I’d have not a lot of money).
Because of Brian Price’s injury and being moved to injured reserve, the Cowboys filled the depth at defensive tackle by promoting one of their practice squad members, Lewis Neal.
Neal came to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent rookie out of LSU. He impressed in the preseason and has fought his way all the way to the 53-man roster. To call the feat impressive is to put it mildly.
This feat has actually been accomplished by two other players this season. Quarterback Cooper Rush made the 53-man roster in its initial construction, and tight end Blake Jarwin joined it a few weeks ago.
The Cowboys have had a proclivity for finding undrafted free agents over the better part of this century. Names like Tony Romo and Miles Austin certainly come to mind, and the undrafted free agent wide receiver at training camp is a tradition unlike any other.
There are now nine rookies on the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster, meaning a third of them are UDFAs. That’s pretty incredible.
Perhaps the most incredible feat accomplished by any of the undrafted free agent rookies is what Cooper Rush has done. He made an NFL team as an undrafted rookie. And he’s not just a quarterback on the team, he’s the primary back-up!
Lewis Neal will likely get the largest opportunity of the three to contribute as the Cowboys are in most dire need at his position. He may be undersized as far as traditional defensive tackles go, but it’s just another set of odds for him to defy.
The fact that Neal is on the team though is an incredible testament first and foremost to his (and his fellow UDFAs) work ethic, but also to what Will McClay and the Cowboys scouts are capable of finding.
A third, A THIRD, of the team’s rookies were undrafted. That’s the Cowboys way.