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Cowboys news: Why Cowboys feel good about their receiving corps

And who will be the next Ring of Honor member?

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jones feeling better and better about Dak Prescott, receiving corps – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones said he wakes up every day feeling “better and better” about Prescott. Here’s why:

Jones, though, believes that the biggest addition is new receivers coach Sanjay Lal. Receiver Cole Beasley praised Lal last week, saying “it just feels like this is the first time I’m being taught how to actually run routes instead of just naturally doing them.”

“If you do right, Dak will do really right,” Jones said.

Translation: Receivers running precise routes will allow Prescott to go through his progressions and find the open receiver. It’s a reason Bryant no longer is in Dallas, and a reason the Cowboys haven’t committed big money to a No. 1 wideout.

How Do The WRs Shake Out? - David Helman,
Helman looks at the most intriguing battles between the Cowboys WRs ahead of training camp.

It’s crazy to think that, just a couple years ago, the Cowboys’ receiver depth chart was essentially set in stone – because that couldn’t be further from the case right now. To be fair, logic dictates that some of these guys have job security. The Cowboys didn’t pay Allen Hurns $12 million only to cut him six months later, and they certainly aren’t cutting third-round draft pick Michael Gallup. On top of that, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are this team’s most experienced receivers. It’s safe to assume some of these guys have roster spots. But even still, who’s going to start for this team is anybody’s guess. The Cowboys’ coaching staff used as many as seven different receivers with the first-team offense during OTAs, and that doesn’t even include Williams – who has been rehabbing a foot injury in the offseason. It’s possible to take an educated guess at which of these receivers make the team, but training camp may decide how the playing time is sorted out.

Cowboys updated 53-man roster projection: Cowboys keep five WRs? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota updates his roster projection after watching over a month of organized team activities and minicamp, and has five wide receivers (plus Tavon Austin at RB) making the roster.

Austin's ability to play receiver technically gives the Cowboys six at the position. The final spot will likely come down to Noah Brown, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson and Lance Lenoir. Dallas could always keep two from that group and go thin at another position like defensive back.

-- Allen Hurns

-- Cole Beasley

-- Terrance Williams

-- Michael Gallup

-- Noah Brown

Bucky Brooks: In time, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will become 'one of the elite' QBs in NFL - NFL Videos
In this video, Brooks (my favorite NFL analyst) shows some love for Dak and his future.

Cowboys rookie WR Michael Gallup has only one goal entering the 2018 season - Patrik Walker, 247Sports
The latest on Michael Gallup, a realistic man with realistic goals.

“Honestly, my only individual goal right now is to be able to play on that 53-man roster when we play the [Carolina] Panthers,” he said, via the team’s website. “That’s what I’m trying to get to right now.”

What the young wide receiver realizes is obvious, in that the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step. Already pegged as the instant replacement for All-Pro wideout Dez Bryant, released on April 13, Gallup has shot down any questions that would see him affirm such. If anything, he’s been nothing short of focused on preparing himself to be the first him instead of the next someone else, an admirable quality that will help take the edge off of the reality of being the Cowboys’ third-round pick only 14 days after they showed the franchise’s all-time leading receiver the exit.

The 2017 Cowboys OL Sack Register – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Sturm again dives deep into the video and gives us a gif-filled part two to his analysis of every sack suffered by Dak Prescott in 2017.

This is all important to keep in mind as we judge the 2017 offense. There was a clear line of demarcation where the Cowboys offense fell off a cliff. But it’s important to remember the eight games played before that line – and during those first eight games, the Dallas offense was still the unit everyone loved in 2016. I have said this over and over in pieces this offseason, and I don’t sense the fanbase believes it. But by all measurable statistics and even the eye test of a careful review, it is true. The Cowboys’ offense through the Kansas City game was the same power from the year before.

Then, it all changed the week of the Atlanta game.

We know why it changed. Ezekiel Elliott began his suspension and perhaps, more importantly, Tyron Smith suffered his injury at the end of the Kansas City game. At first, there was hope it was just a small issue and that he might not miss a game. But Smith missed several and never looked the same. Elliott and his left tackle would play only three snaps together the rest of the season. Not three games. Three snaps.

Last week, I offered the actual statistics about sacks allowed. But to show you how catastrophic the Atlanta game was, consider this hypothetical statistic. Five times in 2016-2017, the offensive line never conceded a sack. What would the 2017 season have looked like if the Falcons game turned out that way?

Ranking all 32 offensive lines by pass-blocking efficiency - Mark Chichester, Pro Football Focus
The PFF crew is in offseason mode, which means lots of rankings. Here they judge every team’s ability to protect the quarterback, and have the Cowboys ranked 16th.

The Dallas Cowboys saw a drop off in production in 2017, having lost Ronald Leary and Doug Free prior to the season and left tackle Tyron Smith missing time due to injury. They allowed 19 sacks, 26 hits and 108 hurries on their 555 passing plays. Despite the cumulative setback, right guard Zack Martin continued his dominant play, as he allowed just 11 total pressures on 531 pass-block snaps, resulting in the highest pass-blocking efficiency among guards at 98.4. Heading into the 2018 season, the Cowboys hope that second-round pick Connor Williams can replace the production that was lost by guard Ronald Leary, as Williams allowed just 27 pressures on 932 pass-block snaps over the last three years at the University Of Texas. Where Williams plays in addition to their potential moves of La’el Collins is another story, and one that should be ironed out before Week 1 if they want to vault up this list.

There’s only one sensible end to the Earl Thomas saga, and — spoiler alert — it’s with the Cowboys - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
It’s the latest chapter of the never-ending offseason, making the case for why Earl Thomas should be a Cowboy.

The Cowboys could certainly use a player of his caliber. Rod Marinelli has a star at linebacker in Sean Lee and another in the making in DeMarcus Lawrence. A big-time defensive back would provide most of what this defense lacks to be a Super Bowl contender.

He’d also become the Yoda a young secondary needs. Imagine what Thomas might unlock for Byron Jones at cornerback. Or what an inquisitive Xavier Woods could learn from one of the game’s great pros.

The last Cowboys safety who wielded such influence was Darren Woodson, which was so long ago even Woody probably doesn’t remember. Also reminds me:

If safeties are so easy to come by, how come the Cowboys haven’t found one all these years?

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? - Sean Martin, InsideTheStar
A look at the Cowboys' young safety group and pondering how new coach Kris Richard will utilize them.

Xavier Woods may not have the pure stopping power that Kavon Frazier possesses, but as a fellow sixth-round pick there is more than enough to like about what Woods brought to the Cowboys in 2017 out of Louisiana Tech. With 14 interceptions and six forced fumbles out of college, Woods slid in the draft enough for the Cowboys to trade up for his services.

The team wasn't cheated out of their investment in Woods last season, giving him the "Byron Jones treatment" as Woods lined up all over the field. It was Richard that came to Dallas and almost immediately moved Byron Jones down to cornerback, seeing a better use of his natural size and skills there.

Doing the same for Woods -- while keeping the natural FS free to react -- should be next up on Richard's offseason to-do list. This is a player with sideline to sideline range, enough athleticism to cover down in the slot, and the functional strength to compete in the box.

Jimmy Johnson under consideration for Cowboys’ Ring of Honor – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Thoughts on who might be inducted next into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.

Jason Witten’s retirement this offseason allows for the possibility that the former tight end will go in with his best buddy, Tony Romo, who retired after the 2016 season. Jones also has talked openly about inducting DeMarcus Ware, though that now seems at least a bit awkward after Ware took a job as a pass-rush consultant for the Broncos.

Instead, Jimmy Johnson, Gil Brandt and Jay Novacek are under consideration for the next halftime Ring of Honor ceremony in Arlington, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Johnson and Brandt’s Hall of Fame candidacies would not be hurt by their addition to the team’s Ring of Honor. Brandt annually is a contributors’ candidate for the Hall, and Johnson has made the list of modern-era Hall finalists.

Jones’ sometimes icy relationship with Johnson has thawed to the point that the Cowboys owner has no problem acknowledging his former head coach’s contributions to the 1990s Cowboys.

3 in mind, but Cowboys plan to make Romo, Ware wait on Ring of Honor - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Gil Brandt spent 29 years with Dallas as a personnel guru, helping the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories and 18 playoff seasons in 20 years. Drummond on Brandt:

Brandt, currently an on-air personality on Sirius XM, was one of the architects of America’s Team. He was the original out-of-the-box thinker when it came to scouting, helping Dallas find gems in the most hidden places. Converts from the world of basketball and track and field? Brandt was the pioneer. Brandt was one of the originals who used metrics and analytics and not just a reliance on studying on-field play to find talent.

He’s commonly referred to as the Godfather as many of his tenets have become staples of the scouting game.

Johnson of course led the early 1990’s rebuild of the Cowboys’ dynasty. He arrived from the University of Miami and along with owner and general manager Jerry Jones constructed a roster that turned around a fledging franchise into Super Bowl champions in just few short seasons.

Then they went out there and did it again.

Jerry Jones trusts Ezekiel Elliott as much as “he trusts himself” – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
After 2017’s tumultuous offseason, Ezekiel Elliott has been very quiet in 2018, which seems to have provided the front office, coaches, and teammates with confidence in the young superstar.

Jones said he trusts the running back as much as “he trusts himself.”

He added, though, that Elliott still needs “a talking to” — sometimes daily — to remain on the straight and narrow. But the Cowboys have no concerns about Elliott between now and training camp.

In less than a year, Elliott has gone from sometimes being a migraine for the Cowboys to being a team leader, who has preached to his teammates the importance of working the next five weeks.

It’s why many in the organization are predicting a big year for Elliott.

Martin vs. Casey Will Be Primetime Matchup - Bryan Broaddus
Also over at the Mothership, the Broad one continues his series looking at the Cowboys’ top opponent’s this season. And while he focuses on defensive tackle Jerrell Casey he comes away impressed at the Titans’ overall talent.

One of the biggest takeaways from this preview series is just how much talent the Tennessee Titans possess on their roster. We saw it translate to a playoff appearance last season, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain that momentum. Casey will be a big part of that, as one of the most talented – and experienced – players on their roster. The last time he played Dallas, back in 2014, Casey terrorized the Cowboys to the tune of two sacks and two tackles. He will undoubtedly be a handful once again in 2018.

2017 defeats - Vincent Verhei, Football Outsiders
The Football Outsiders gang continues their review of the 2017 season, this time looking at the top defenders based on what they term “defeats”:

We have lots of statistics to measure quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, even kickers, but our numbers for individual defensive players are a lot more limited. Defeats are one way to account for defenders who make frequent appearances on highlight reels.

As a reminder, a defender is credited with a defeat any time he makes one of the following plays:

- A tackle that results in a loss of yardage, including sacks.

- Any play that results in a turnover, including tipped passes which are then intercepted.

- Any tackle or tipped pass that leads to a stop on third or fourth down.

It’s a really interesting read that’s worth your time. In addition to ranking defenders overall, they rank them at each position. It’s no surprise DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee show up on these lists, but I imagine quite a few Cowboys’ fans would be surprised to see Byron Jones and David Irving show up on these lists. Here’s where the top Cowboys rank:

  • DeMarcus Lawrence: T 6th among edge rushers with 23 defeats
  • Byron Jones: T 5th among safeties with 20 defeats
  • Sean Lee: T 18th among linebackers with 20 defeats
  • David Irving: T 15th among interior defenders with 15 defeats (in just eight games).

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