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Cowboys news: Who will step up at wide receiver?

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Your Monday morning Cowboys links.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL Team’s Most Important Training Camp Battle - Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report

Davenport writes that the most important position battle for the Cowboys will be at — you guessed it — wide receiver.

You may have heard, but the Dallas Cowboys are overhauling the wide receiver position.

They are officially in the post-Dez Bryant era.

Bryant’s release was just one part of a flurry of activity at the position for Jerruh’s boys this offseason. The team added a trio of veteran options in Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. Two more wideouts joined via the draft in third-rounder Michael Gallup and sixth-rounder Cedrick Wilson.

The question is: Who slots where?

As Mike Fisher reported for 247Sports, the Cowboys apparently have a “hybrid” role in mind for Austin, the 2013 first-round pick who flamed out with the Rams. He’ll spend time lined up in both the slot and the backfield as a “web back.”

Cowboys best offseason move - Staff, SportsDay
Matt Mosley answered questions in a recent chat. Here's one of them:

Q: What would you say has been the best move by the Cowboys this offseason?

Mosley: I think we may look back and say that releasing Dez Bryant allowed Dak Prescott to grow in some ways. I think the addition by subtraction thing sort of works here. Personally, I thought very highly of Dez. And I really thought the Cowboys did him a disservice by waiting so long to cut him. But in an offseason that didn't bring a ton of true impact players (maybe Vander Esch and Williams), maybe this will work out.

As I've written before, the team had an excellent season after Terrell Owens was cut. Miles Austin and Jason Witten put up big numbers the next season. Maybe Hurns and, say, Beasley can really prosper in this offense. If not, this staff will look a lot different next season.

Four second-year Cowboys that can gain the most from a strong offseason - Michael Sisemore, BTB

So, who steps up in the wide receivers room this year? Our own Michael Sisemore suggests that 2018 could be a big year for Noah Brown.

If there’s a receiver on the roster that fits the “X” role in a similar sense that Dez Bryant did, it’s Noah Brown. He’s not nearly as polished or experienced as Bryant was coming out of college but Brown does have the traits and physical makeup for the position. He doesn’t have outstanding straight-line speed but he’s very sudden in his stop-start motions. Brown does a really nice job with timing and has excellent ball skills. Brown’s very strong in his footwork and can be deceptively efficient without top-end speed.

Coming out of college, he was one of the least experienced receivers to declare with only 33 receptions. He does possess playmaking potential for his abilities as a physical downfield receiver. Brown’s been working practically every day of this offseason along with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. The potential for him to become a trustworthy option is very high because he does have great hands. It only helps his case that he’s one of the best run-blocking receivers on the roster.

Film Review: Sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson has the tools to become a solid wide receiver for the Cowboys - Cole Patterson, BTB

What about rookie sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson? Check out our film review on the former Boise State Broncos star.

How Cedrick Wilson lasted until the 200’s, I am not sure. The 6-foot-3 target was the go-to weapon for coach Bryan Harsin during Wilson’s time with the Broncos. The former JUCO All-American grabbed 83 passes for 1,511 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior in 2017 — just a season after catching 56 throws for 1,129 yards and 11 scores in 2016. Wilson has reliable hands, can make plays with the ball in his hands, and averaged 19 yards per reception on the D1 level.

If you read our Michael Gallup film review, you would know that we definitely believe that the Cowboys may have drafted a huge steal at 81. I feel the same way about Wilson. The son of former 49ers and Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Sr., Wilson is a versatile receiver that can play all over the field, has a history of being a kickoff and punt return man, and has shown that his route-running and solid hands can make him a solid possession receiver for any offense.

PFF graded Wilson as one of the five best receivers in the draft class, and the Cowboys got him in the sixth-round. That is potentially great value.


Projecting compensatory picks for 2019 NFL Draft - NFL.com
NFL.com with the word on where the Cowboys currently stand with their comp picks for next year.

Dallas Cowboys

Projected compensatory pick: Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: LB Anthony Hitchens (Chiefs), OG Jonathan Cooper (49ers).

Key free-agent additions: DE Kony Ealy (Jets), OT Cameron Fleming (Patriots).

The skinny: Orlando Scandrick was a cap casualty for the Cowboys and Allen Hurns was cut by the Jaguars, so they won't count in this process. Hitchens should bring them a fourth-rounder.

But remember, as RJ Ochoa recently pointed out, if any compensatory free agent is permanently cut from his team’s roster before Week 10, he will not qualify for the compensatory formula.


What to make of Cowboys’ long list of undrafted free agents, including three safeties with chance to compete - Brandon George, SportsDay

Which UDFA’s have the best chance to make the roster? George gives the run down.

Every year, the Cowboys emphasize their undrafted free agent class because it’s paid off for them time and time again.

Tony Romo stands out among the many undrafted free agents who have played a big role over the years for the Cowboys.

But even now, the Cowboys have five undrafted players who are difference-makers for them: starting right tackle La’el Collins, starting safety Jeff Heath, Pro Bowl kicker Dan Bailey, receiver Cole Beasley and backup running back Rod Smith.

This year’s Cowboys undrafted rookie free agent class consists of 17 players so far, including three safeties - San Diego State’s Kameron Kelly, Oregon’s Tyree Robinson and Northwestern’s Kyle Queiro - who could help with depth at a position of need.

Why these two undrafted DBs have a real shot of making the Cowboys’ 53-man roster - Jon Machota, SportsDay

Machota says two UDFA safeties have a chance to make the team.

Who intrigues you the most among the Cowboys’ undrafted free agents? Is this player someone you think could realistically make the team?

Machota: It would have to be the bigger defensive backs like San Diego State’s Kam Kelly and Oregon’s Tyree Robinson. Kris Richard comes from a defensive system that prefers bigger defensive backs. Kelly and Robinson are both listed at 6-2.

The Cowboys have an available safety spot on the roster with Byron Jones moving back to CB. If one of the young DBs can impress, they probably have the best shot of any position of making the final 53-man roster.


Ezekiel Elliott has some work to do, this Hall of Famer says. - Stefan Stevenson, The Star-Telegram

Hall-of-Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson has some advice for Cowboys star back Ezekiel Elliott.

”You’ve got to continue to challenge yourself and be honest with yourself in many different ways,” said Tomlinson, who helped host All Pro Dad day on the TCU campus along with Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson. “The off-season was my time to dissect my game and I was hard on myself. I attacked the things I needed to get better at.”

“Zeke is in the perfect position right now. He has an opportunity to be a Hall of Fame player, but it’s going to be up to him to put the work in. Every single day there is something you can work on to perfect your craft,” he said.

That means being honest with yourself, Tomlinson said.

”As a player you have to be able to do that because you always have people all around you telling you how good you are. But you need to be honest with yourself and say, ‘You know what, I didn’t block very good this year or I didn’t catch the ball very good. I didn’t run this play as well as I would like.’”


Mick Shots: Shoe comfort - Mickey Spagnola, Dallas Cowboys
Nearly lost among Mickey's meandering ramblings is this SMH observation:

Man, what’s the deal with Maliek Collins’ feet? First, as a rookie, he breaks the fifth metatarsal on his right foot. Then in his second season he plays through a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, surgery repairing that one after the season by inserting a screw in the weakened area. And now, merely going through strength and conditioning work on the practice field, Collins fractures the fifth metatarsal on his left foot, needing a third foot-surgery mending in less than three years. At least, I’m told, the inserted screw didn’t break and this time doctors were likely to repair the fracture with a bone graph [sic], similar to what they did for Dez Bryant. Trainers will be very cautious with his rehab, meaning the projected starting defensive tackle’s return might not be until midway through camp, if that. Why this sudden rash of fractured fifth metatarsals team wide?

Answer was: Shoe comfort is taking precedence over suitable support.