The NFL offseason sleeps for no one. 16 games are played in the regular season to determine which teams get the right to play for the ultimate goal of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. However, to get to that point, teams have to build their roster in the offseason.
Like any team, the Cowboys have their weaknesses. And despite all of the money they have committed to the wide receiver position, they still need improvement. This is the start of a series that outlines prospects in the draft and options in free agency that could help this Cowboys roster. Today’s focus will be the wide receiver position.
At age 29, Dez Bryant is at a crossroads in his career. While he has suffered numerous injuries and has had his fair share of wear-and-tear, the reality is that the Cowboys need to deploy an offense that is not as tailored to his strengths in comparison to years past.
The Cowboys are a run-first football team that lneeds to spread the ball around to their playmakers. Because of that and the type of quarterback Dak Prescott is, the Cowboys shouldn’t force-feed Dez Bryant.
On top of Bryant, the Cowboys have already locked up Terrance Williams to an extension and Cole Beasley is under contract for 2018. An argument could be made that all three didn’t have their best seasons in 2017, but that could also be due to the offensive line struggling with the departure of Ronald Leary in free agency, the injury to Tyron Smith, as well as the suspension to Ezekiel Elliott.
Passing production was down in 2017, but there were so many issues wrong with this offense that went far beyond the receiving group. Dallas could benefit from adding another receiver this offseason to not only give Prescott another target, but also add some competition in the receiver’s room.
Let’s talk about the obvious here. With Derek Dooley going to the University of Missouri to be the team’s offensive coordinator, the Cowboys brought in former Colts receiver coach Sanjay Lal for the same position. There is a relationship there and with the uncertainty of Andrew Luck’s throwing shoulder, Moncrief would be wise to test the waters of free agency. A third-round pick in the 2014 draft, Moncrief didn’t exactly pan out in Indianapolis. But, he still has a lot of potential.
If he can be used correctly, the Cowboys can get a talented player hopefully at a reasonable price. He’s a 6-foot-2, 220 pounds receiver who also has the speed to play inside. If placed in the right scheme, Moncrief’s skills can useful. This is the type of move the the Cowboys should make in hopes of becoming a more ‘Dak-friendly’ offense.
It seems that there is a game or two every year where Richardson reminds us of how good he is. Out of the guys on the list, Richardson will probably be given the most money and as such might be out of the Cowboys range unless they decide to open up the pocketbook this offseason.
Richardson is a reliable option in an offense that is no stranger to throwing the ball deep. Richardson brought in 44 passes for just over 700 yards and six touchdowns.
At 6-feet, 185 pounds with the ability to play inside and outside, Richardson is an underrated name that will garner some attention as an mid-tier target in free agency. He runs well for a guy his size, has an NFL pedigree with his father playing in the league, and was just a second-round pick a few seasons ago. And remember, Dallas liked him prior to the draft.
Dallas values versatility, especially guys who can contribute on special teams. Latimer is one of the more underrated special teams players in football and he has the traits to still evolve into a nice rotational receiver.
Latimer played just two seasons at the college level. With the background of a basketball player, Latimer’s combination of size and speed is what encouraged the Denver Broncos to use a second-round pick on him.
At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he has a nice frame. His weight is distributed well and he runs extremely well for a guy his size. There will need to be a lot of molding with him, but if the Cowboys can work with him and round out his game, they could have themselves a jack-of-all-trades type of player to work with.
The Cowboys shouldn’t use too early of a draft pick on a receiver. With that being said, these three names are players the Cowboys could go after at some point on Day 2.
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
In a stacked Penn State offense with three elite playmakers (quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki), Hamilton has been somewhat forgotten about. However, at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Hamilton has a frame that fits the ‘size requirement’ the Cowboys look for in their receivers.
He’s an excellent route-runner who can create separation from both the inside and outside. Hamilton is definitely a guy that can become a consistent contributor for an NFL offense. In Dallas, he could push for playing time and be used in a bundle of different formations in multiple positions.
Daesean Hamilton - WR - Penn State - Route running expert here. There will be some really solid Day 2 choices at WR, friends.— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) February 3, 2018
‘Doug Baldwin and the Art of the Release’— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 3, 2018
This is also my Daesean Hamilton comparison... pic.twitter.com/ICZf9PvsTx
D.J. Moore, Maryland
With his athleticism, his stock will likely rise with the combine coming up. And if that is the case, the Cowboys will likely need to move up in the second round to get him. Moore is an unbelievable athlete and while he is somewhat of a body-catcher, something that may pain Cowboys fans because of their history with Terrance Williams, Moore has the athletic ability to be a real nice player in the NFL.
Dallas should be in the market for a player who can take it the distance whenever the ball is in his hands. He was known at Maryland for his unbelievable work ethic and being a team leader. He was one of the best receivers in the Big Ten, despite a level of stagnation at the quarterback position for the entirety of his collegiate career.
Dallas needs another playmaker and Moore could be just that. Given his size and profile, Moore could replace the void Brice Butler will leave behind with him likely going elsewhere in free agency.
Just finished studying MD WR DJ Moore. Really like his game. Excellent quickness & he has a plan as a route runner. Ultra competitive after the catch too. Top 40 type player on tape.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 7, 2018
Allen Lazard, Iowa State
Over the course of a four-year career, Lazard caught nearly 250 passes for over 3,350 yards and 26 touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Lazard’s size gives him the ability to go up and make plays on the ball in the red-zone. With his frame, he can use his body to box out defenders to come down with the football.
Prescott is the type of quarterback that is more comfortable not taking risks. With Lazard, you have a receiver with a huge catch-radius and one that would take away attention from Bryant and Beasley in the redzone. Given how well-polished he is, Lazard is a player that will be able to adapt quickly to an NFL offense and make an impact right away.