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Cowboys News: No WR 1, no problem?

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2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Do The Cowboys Need A No. 1 WR? - Staff,
The staff writers at the mothership continue their “20 Questions” series, and cover familiar territory in this one. Helman most enthusiastically defends the WR-by-committee approach the Cowboys defaulted to after losing out to the Chiefs on $16 million-man Sammy Watkins.

David Helman: No, they don’t, and we’ve seen the evidence across the league. The reigning champion Philadelphia Eagles didn’t need a 1,000-yard receiver last year, as they got 824 yards from Zach Ertz and 789 from Alshon Jeffery. The 2013 Seahawks, who ran roughshod to a Super Bowl title, had an 898-yard receiver in Golden Tate and a 778-yard effort from Doug Baldwin. What do these teams have in common with the Cowboys? They leaned on a next-level running game. With this offensive line, this running back and a mobile quarterback, that needs to be the blueprint in Dallas. Obviously, your receivers are going to need to win some matchups. Someone is going to need to step up, and I’m looking at Hurns and Cole Beasley as the primary candidates. But they don’t need to be amazing. They simply need to be good enough to let Ezekiel Elliott and this offensive line do their thing.

Dak Prescott needs a go-to guy in the passing game, and here’s why it can’t be Ezekiel Elliott... - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay

A lot of people think Ezekiel Elliott can help make up for the lack of talent at receiver. Here is Rick Gosselin’s perspective on why he thinks that won’t work as well as some may think.

Q: What do you think about throwing to Ezekiel Elliott out of the backfield?

Gosselin: ”There’s going to be 11 sets of eyes on Zeke wherever he goes. I think Zeke will catch 60-70 balls. But you still need a guy who’s going to move the chains. I’m also interested in how they’ll work Tavon Austin into this, because he’s ideally the guy you’d want catching flat passes on third down because he can make you miss. Camp will be interesting because they still have to figure out everyone’s role in the passing game.”

“I think Allen Hurns has to have the same kind of season in 2015 with the Jacksonville Jaguars -- a guy who can give you 1,000 yards and get in the endzone for you. He’s the guy who has potential to make plays down the field. I love Michael Gallup but I think he’s more of a possession type receiver.”

Here's a list of underrated rookies to watch as 2018 NFL training camps open - Chris Trapasso,
Michael Gallup headlines Trapasso's list of underrated rookies to monitor at the start of 2018 training camp.

Where to start with Gallup? He was my No. 32 overall prospect -- and WR3 behind Courtland Sutton and James Washington -- in the 2018 draft class. He somehow lasted until the third round and landed in an amazing situation in Dallas. The Cowboys lost 272 targets from their 2017 squad, the highest figure in the NFC, and he's only looking at Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley ahead of him on the depth chart.

All that led to him being my Offensive Rookie of the Year selection in May. A receiver has won the award just three times in the last 15 years (Anquan Boldin in 2003, Percy Harvin in 2009, and Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014), so recent history isn't exactly on my side.

But Gallup's an ultra-polished receiver who does everything well albeit unspectacularly -- route running, ball-tracking, yards-after-the-catch. If anything, it'd benefit Gallup, the Cowboys offense and my OROY pick, if the former Colorado State standout improved in a specific area to make it a clear-cut strength and trump card.

How does Randy Gregory impact the outlook for defensive production? - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
In his latest mailbag, Sturm wonders kind of role Randy Gregory could fill in the Cowboys defense.

I think the reinstatement may be able to settle the question of who comes off the edge opposite DeMarcus Lawrence on passing downs when you simply must get to the QB in a big situation. The Cowboys haven’t had two edge-rushers with massive ability since DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, so this possibility is very exciting. That said, we have very little clue what sort of player Gregory is going to be when he is unleashed. But if it is Gregory at his best this could be very exciting.

Gregory is a right defensive end. Traditionally they are twitchy edge players who are not the best run stoppers, but probably the best pure rushers on their respective teams (20%/80% run stopping/pass rusher). Lawrence was thought to be this guy out of college, but to his credit, he became so much more. Tank came in weighing 250 pounds and lean as can be. Now he is a flat-out monster who is comfortably in that 270 range. He stops the run better than just about any DE in the league and was also within range of the NFL’s sack title last year.

But what about the bookend? Who was on the other side? Well, last year that was often Tyrone Crawford. That’s not ideal for me because while he works hard, he is not scaring any tackle off the edge. In fact, I like him better inside. Same with David Irving when he is not suspended. Taco Charlton might be that guy, and he might be the player who loses the most time in this scenario if Randy Gregory is back in top form – but we have a long ways to go before we declare that to be the case. For me, Taco’s best fit is to continue to prove himself worthy of handling the very vital job of spelling Lawrence in the case of injury or fatigue, and maybe even showing the Cowboys he can be that LDE (50/50 run/pass) in 2019 if Lawrence gets too expensive. I like having quality options, and maybe the Cowboys are starting to put that group together. And we haven’t mentioned several other names that might factor in like Kony Ealy and Dorance Armstrong.

The most important move every NFL team made this offseason - Staff, ESPN
ESPN brings you up to speed with the biggest splash every team has made since the Super Bowl. Todd Archer does the honors for the Cowboys:

Hiring defensive backs coach Kris Richard

The Cowboys did not want to lose Matt Eberflus, but he could not turn down the chance to become the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis. In steps Richard, who was let go as the Seahawks' coordinator, to be the Cowboys' passing game coordinator. He comes with the legacy of the Legion of Boom and will be responsible for the back seven of the defense, with Rod Marinelli handling the fronts. If the offseason work was any indication, the Cowboys will play with more aggression in the secondary under Richard, which they hope translates to the full defense. They didn't make any splashy additions to their personnel, cut Dez Bryant and saw Jason Witten retire. They will need more from their defense in 2018, which makes the addition of Richard so important.

Leighton Vander Esch hometown and background - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
If you are interested in learning more about first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch and his life growing up in Riggins, Idaho, this article is for you.

Vander Esch hasn’t disappointed to date. He’s lived up to, or exceeded, expectations at every stop. The bright lights of playing for America’s Team haven’t fazed him.

He expects to shine under them and then return to his Idaho roots. He’s thought about getting into real estate after his playing career, but that’s a ways down the road.

For now, he’s just focused on bringing that Idaho grit and wherewithal to the Cowboys. He’s all business, all the time. Vander Esch can’t name a favorite comedy or comedian.

Mailbag: Backup RB Battle? Best Leadership? - Staff,
The guys from the mothership answer a mailbag question on how this rookie running back can impact the training camp battles at running back.

Q: I do not know too much about Bo Scarbrough or Darius Jackson as players. Who is the better running back and has the best style to fit the Dallas Cowboy Offense? Who makes the team or practice squad?

Bryan: Bo Scarborough is the better back. I think it’s going to be an uphill battle for Jackson to make the squad. At this point he doesn’t look better than Trey Williams, who is also battling for a spot on the roster. If Scarborough can develop on special teams he will have a great shot to make the club. If he’s just serviceable as a player and Williams plays better all around, they could have an interesting decision.

Rob: Rod Smith is Zeke’s backup, and receiver Tavon Austin might be a mismatch/change of pace player in the backfield at times. So, when I look at the No. 3 running back spot, I don’t focus on offensive fit as much as special teams ability. Who can help Keith O’Quinn’s coverage units most? That’s how Scarbrough, Jackson or Williams make this team.

Cowboys’ first round picks since 2013 have NFL-best availability rate - OCC, Blogging The Boys
Some interesting numbers here regarding the availability rate of former Cowboys first-round picks.

Did you know that the five players drafted by the Cowboys in the first round since 2013 have played in 233 of a possible 240 regular season games?

Well, now you do.

In fact, the only missed games by those five first-round picks are Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension in 2017 and the 2016 Week 17 game in Philly that Elliott was kept out of. All other first-round picks, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Byron Jones, and Taco Charlton played in every single possible regular season game.

Earl Thomas' potential landing spots - Bucky Brooks,
Just when you thought you'd have a Thomas-free Saturday morning News post, Bucky Brooks identifies five teams that could trade for the star safety. And wouldn't you know it, one of them are the Dallas Cowboys.

It is possible Thomas' antics have become such a distraction that the team would consider moving on. If the 'Hawks were to part ways with Thomas, I'd think the most likely scenario would be that they'd wait for an injury to prompt an inquiry or sit tight until the trade deadline in the middle of the season to auction the safety off to a motivated bidder. The prospect of adding a designated playmaker to a team in the middle of a playoff push could up the ante and help the Seahawks secure the valuable draft pick that they reportedly covet in a deal. That said, you never know with these things -- maybe Seahawks brass has had enough of Thomas' public pleading and will receive an enticing enough offer sooner than later.

If Jason Garrett is looking for an ideal mentor for his young secondary, Thomas would be the perfect fit as a perennial Pro Bowl player with exceptional leadership ability and communication skills. In addition, the veteran would give the team a numbers-to-numbers playmaker with the instincts, ball skills and hands to create turnovers in the Cowboys' "see ball, get ball" scheme. Given Thomas' previous relationship with Kris Richard -- the Cowboys' passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach -- the marriage between No. 29 and "America's Team" looks like a match made in heaven.

Bryan Broaddus: Earl Thomas would give Cowboys' defense stability beyond Sean Lee - Staff, SportsDay
The Earl Thomas rumors cannot die and Broaddus explains why Jason Garrett should be pressing Jerry Jones to make the blockbuster trade.

”If I’m Jason Garrett, I’d absolutely want you to do this. Because my job’s on the line. I want as many elite players as I can get on that field to try and save my job.

”And I think adding a safety like Earl Thomas to this group makes Chidobe Awuzie better and I think Awuzie is one of the up-and-coming players in this league. I think it would help Byron Jones to know that if he busts coverage on the right side he’s got somebody that can have his back and make a play.

”You have to have veteran guys. It’s great to have a young team, but you need elite players that can hold things together and show the young guys what they need to do.”

Cowboys camp preview: Will Xavier Woods lock up the free safety job, or is an Earl Thomas trade still cooking? - Brandon George, SportsDay
Training camp is less than a week away for the Cowboys. Is that where a decision on Thomas will be made?

The Cowboys remain in wait-and-see mode with Thomas. They expressed interest in trading for him multiple times this offseason, trying to reunite him with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, who was hired to be Dallas' new defensive backs coach. But Seattle hasn't been willing to trade Thomas yet -- at least not giving him away without much compensation -- with one year remaining on his deal.

If the Cowboys aren't successful with a last-ditch effort to acquire Thomas during training camp, Woods is expected to start at free safety. He spent the entire offseason at first-team free safety after the Cowboys moved Byron Jones back to cornerback.

Keep this in mind about Thomas: He has the same agent -- David Dunn of Athletes First -- as Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Dunn usually stops by Cowboys training camp at least once every year in Oxnard.

NY Giants Co-Owner Steve Tisch Criticizes Trump Over NFL Anthem Policy - Marc Malkin, Hollywood Reporter
Earlier this week, New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said he hopes the president finds better things to do than worry about whether or not NFL players protest during the national anthem.

“Hopefully he’ll have much more going on that he’s going have to deal with and should deal with and must deal with than worrying about what NFL players do,” Tisch told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday night at the premiere of The Equalizer 2 (Tisch is a producer of the film). “He has no understanding of why they take a knee or why they’re protesting. When the new season starts, I hope his priorities are not criticizing the NFL and telling owners what to do and what not to do.”

Spoiler alert: he didn’t.