The SportsDay staff discusses what next season means for Dak and his future with America’s Team. David Moore makes it clear that Dak wasn’t “bad” last year — he just didn’t build on his rookie campaign.
What must QB Dak Prescott show the Cowboys in order to make the front office want to work out a long-term deal with him next offseason?
David Moore: Let’s start right here: Dak Prescott wasn’t bad last season. He didn’t improve on what he did as a rookie, but he wasn’t bad. If you take what he’s done in his first two seasons in the league and compare it to other top quarterbacks in their first two seasons, it compares favorably. Just because his stats weren’t as good in his second season doesn’t mean the arrow is pointing down. The Cowboys believe he’s their quarterback going forward. Could he play his way out of that conviction with a poor performance in 2018? Sure, but he would have to play very poorly. That won’t happen. Tony Romo got his first big contract with the Cowboys after 16 starts. Prescott already has 32 starts under his belt and is primed to add 16 more. That’s a large enough sample size to know what you have and justify a long-term deal.
Jon Machota says next season will determine if the Cowboys will give Dak a big deal, or just let his rookie contract play out.
Jon Machota: He seems to have a natural leadership style and great work ethic, so the Cowboys should feel good about the foundation Prescott has built for himself. The areas he needs to improve are his deep-ball accuracy and winning from the pocket. He has mentioned needing to improve his footwork. Most importantly, he just needs to win games. Whether that’s with his feet, making better decisions, being more accurate or reducing turnovers, he needs to win. Quarterbacks are judged by the team’s overall record more than any other position. If he’s able to clean up a few areas and show improvement in Year 3, it’s a good bet Dallas will give him that long-term deal next offseason. If 2018 is a disaster and Prescott looks like he has regressed, allowing him to play out his rookie deal is more likely.
On Tuesday, Archer reported that the Cowboys are seriously considering their 2015 first-round pick to the conerback position. The hiring of former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has a lot to do with that.
According to multiple sources, the Cowboys are considering using Jones at cornerback again. New secondary coach Kris Richard likes bigger corners. He had Richard Sherman with the Seattle Seahawks. At 6-0, 205 pounds, Jones would qualify as a big corner. He has the necessary athleticism.
The Cowboys liked the way rookies Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods ended the season as their top three corners, but teams never have enough corners. Veteran Orlando Scandrick could be on his way out, although his $3 million salary could make him a potential trade target. Jones would bring some scheme flexibility with his move back to corner.
Since the moment he was drafted, the Cowboys lauded Jones’ versatility. Having position flexibility is a bonus, but it also can prevent a player from reaching his full potential at one spot.
Ryan adds his thoughts about moving the safety to corner.
There are athletic traits possessed by Jones that many would agree should make an awesome safety for this defense. He’s just never been able to fully put it together and own a position for the Cowboys.
Entering the last year of his deal in 2018, the Cowboys may move Jones back to cornerback in hopes that the position will be his best fit. The approach would be to give him an entire offseason training program with new defensive backs coach Kris Richard, the coach who recently was working with defensive backs like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in Seattle.
If Jones were to move to cornerback, it may mean that Orlando Scandrick is the odd guy out. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis performed quite well in their rookie campaigns, and Xavier Woods, who is listed as a safety, spent a lot of time in the slot corner spot once he earned playing time. But, as has been noted repeatedly in the NFL, you can never have too many cornerbacks.
Bryan Broaddus and Rob Phillips were asked about what they thought about moving Jones to the cornerback position.
Bryan: The thought of playing Byron Jones at corner is likely from the new addition of Kris Richard as the secondary coach. He’s had time now since coming on board to evaluate the tape and get a read on Jones. Maybe he had an idea where Jones fit when coming out of college? All possibilities. The question now is will this mean that other moves will happen? Awuzie or draft for a safety? The group will likely look different in 2018.
Rob: With secondary coach Kris Richard coming in with a new perspective on things, I wouldn’t discount the possibility. We all know he previously had success in Seattle with big, physical corners like Richard Sherman. For me, the idea depends on a couple things. Is Kavon Frazier ready to take on more snaps at safety? He earned a larger role late in the season. And what’s Orlando Scandrick’s future with the team? He’s under contract but sounded uncertain late in the season on whether he’d be back in Dallas. If you move Jones back, you’ve still got to find a rotation with Awuzie, Lewis, Anthony Brown and Xavier Woods.
Rob Philips writes on the good and the bad on Jones.
The Cowboys hired Kris Richard as their new secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator, and he’ll have input on where Jones’ skills fit best. Richard has an excellent track record working with the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive backs who went to a pair of Super Bowls. Perhaps corner is a possibility for Jones once again, as has been speculated. Much could depend on how the Cowboys plan to use some of their talented defensive backs, such as Awuzie and Xavier Woods, and the future of veteran Orlando Scandrick, who is under contract through 2019 but wasn’t sure in December whether he’d be back for an 11th season in Dallas.
Where should Byron play next season for the Cowboys defense? Clarence Hill examines.
Jones played cornerback some as a rookie and showed promise covering big receivers. It’s also an admission that Jones has not quite been what the Cowboys thought he would be at safety. His athleticism had the Cowboys believing he would develop into an Ed Reed-type center fielder at safety.
But he has two interceptions in three years and he lost playing time in 2017 to Kavon Frazier because of his inability to be a force in the run game.
That the Cowboys still don’t know Jones’ best position is a failure of the coaching staff more than it on Jones. He is not a box safety. Jeff Heath is more suited to play free safety.
So now the team is focused on trying Jones at cornerback again. The Cowboys are still high on Jones’ talent and potential. If they are serious about him playing cornerback, it makes sense for them to pick up his fifth-year option, giving them two years to develop him at the position.
Dane Brugler looks at five six different prospects that the Cowboys could draft in April. What if the front office decides to be aggressive and trade up? Look for Tremaine Edmunds.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
An impressive size/speed athlete, Edmunds has the frame of a defensive end and the athleticism of a safety. He uses his movement skills and instincts in unison to be a “cleaner” linebacker, tidying up the messes of his teammates. Edmunds is still very young in both mind and body, but his physical traits and impact potential are off the charts. He would be an ideal fit as the MIKE linebacker in the Cowboys’ scheme, but Dallas likely needs to trade into the top 12 to get him.
Would you want the Cowboys to go offensive line on day one? If so, Brugler says Georgia Bulldogs’ Isaiah Wynn is a name to watch, should Dallas decide to trade back.
Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
A possible Cowboys target at No. 19, Wynn is a first-round prospect, but Dallas may be able to trade back 6-10 spots and still land him. After starting all 15 games last season at left tackle, Wynn made the expected move inside to guard during Senior Bowl practices and was arguably the best player at the event. He is a plug-and-play lineman who would be an ideal fit at left guard for the Cowboys with the skills to kick outside to tackle in a pinch.
Speaking of offensive line, our own Ryan Ratty takes a look at potential offensive guard targets in both the draft and free agency. James Daniels of the Iowa Hawkeyes is an intriguing name in the draft.
A three-year contributor who left early to explore his NFL potential, Daniels comes from a school who produces quality offensive lineman. At Iowa, Daniels excelled because of his quickness in space and his ability to clear linebackers away from running back Akrum Wadley. He has center/guard positional flexibility as well.
Whereas Josh Kline could help if the Cowboys go shopping in free agency.
Tennessee has invested a lot of money in their offensive line. While the Titans would love to re-sign Kline, they just might not have the budget to do so with contracts of younger players coming off the books soon.
At age 28, Kline has quietly been one of the better guards in football in recent years. He’s a smaller guard at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, but he has played in multiple NFL offenses and he could gel instantly in between Smith and Frederick.
Moving from the first-round to later in the draft, Nick Eatman takes a look at a defensive back from the North Carolina Tar Heels that may be worth a pick in the later rounds this April.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
One might assume the Cowboys wouldn’t have much interest in a cornerback, especially if Byron Jones is expected to move from safety. But the old adage of never having enough cornerbacks still comes into play. Don’t forget, the Cowboys drafted Marquez White last year after picking two corners in the early rounds. If they think there is a player who could help immediately, they would do that. Stewart has physical size that could get him on the field early, especially on special teams.
You know what the one thing is? [You may remember] the Saints traded Brandin Cooks, and he was their No. 1 receiver. They didn’t lose a beat without him. As a matter of fact, I think with the pick they got from the Patriots, they drafted their right tackle. They hit it out of the park when it came to the draft this year, and it’s one of the reasons New Orleans got as far as they did.
That’s exactly what Dallas has to do. That’s what every team that did not make the playoffs has to do, hit it out of the park in the draft this year with an Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt, players like that who are difference-makers that come in later rounds.
Former Cowboys running back Lincoln Coleman, who was on the team that won the Super Bowl XXVIII, was found on Tuesday morning after being reported missing. This is the second time Coleman has been reported missing in six months. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
This is the second of these incidents for Coleman in the past six months. On the previous occasion, the Dallas native and Baylor alumni was reported missing last May, but was found safely at his mother’s Dallas’ home.
On the field, Coleman’s most famous game occurred when he led the Cowboys to a 1993 victory, despite inclement weather. While he only played in 18 games over a four-year NFL career, he earned a Super Bowl ring with Dallas in 1994 when the Cowboys defeated the Bills, 30-13, in Super Bowl XVIII.
Off the field, Coleman struggled with substance abuse issues. Six years ago he checked himself into a Florida treatment center to try and kick his addiction to alcohol and cocaine.