With training camp underway, we here at Blogging The Boys have just one question for you. Actually, it’s seven questions, but they’re real short.
Who are your Cowboys for training camp?— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) July 25, 2018
Dont Forget About:
Needs to Rebound:
Under the Radar:
hat tip to @AumanacDraft for the idea
Let’s go to the twitter polls and see which players got the most mentions in each category.
Last year, Smith made his NFL debut and he managed to play in all 16 games. That’s impressive considering the nature of his injury. But Jaylon’s ability to move was clearly hindered and his performance was shaky at times. With more healing time under his belt, the Notre Dame star is hoping to take a big step forward in 2018.
The Cowboys needed immediate returns on their second-round investment from last year, but hamstring injuries sidelined those plans. With some good health and a new defensive backs coach in Kris Richard, the table is set for the young corner to make his impression in the NFL.
This was an obvious choice for most people. When a player is out of office for the better part of two years, most people just write him off. But don’t let the cement dry on Gregory’s career just yet as the defense now gets a talented young edge rusher with a whole lot to prove.
We have gotten spoiled on the automatic three points the Cowboys are awarded every time a field goal is attempted by Bailey. The guy just never missed. But in 2017, he would miss on 25% of his attempts and even shanked two extra points. He just wasn’t himself. We can chalk that up to a lingering groin injury and hope that the veteran kicker is healthy and doing what he does best - splitting the uprights.
Over the last two years, the Cowboys 2016 fourth-round selection has played in the same amount of games as Randy Gregory has (two) and has just as many sacks (one), however his absence is for a different reason - he just can’t stay healthy. We are still waiting to see what this athletic defensive end from Oklahoma can do, but is time running out?
From a performance standpoint, you can’t really say Zeke had a down year as his 983 yards over 10 games would have projected out to 1,573 yards had he stayed on pace and played in all 16 games. But for Elliott, this is more of a mental comeback. There is no looming suspension hanging over his head this year and look for the Cowboys star running back to channel his inner Forrest Gump and run like the wind.
“How come the Cowboys cannot find any diamonds in the rough in the NFL draft” is something people might stop saying if Woods lives up to his potential. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about this talented young “steal of the draft” pick and optimism about his ability could be one of the reasons a certain safety from the Pacific Northwest hasn’t swapped teams.
Similar to what they did with cornerbacks in the 2016 draft, they Cowboys took advantage of a deep wide receiver class and cashed in when Gallup was still on the board in the third round. The Cowboys receiver group is wide open and don’t be surprised if the rookie from Colorado State starts turning heads sooner versus later.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT
It was easy to pound the table in disgust when the team’s first-round investment wasn’t making the impact previous first-round All Pro’s were. Taco just became a side dish while we were all enjoying the oh-so satisfying DeMarcus Lawrence. And with Gregory coming back, not many are paying attention to last years top draft investment. While tempering your expectations was a good idea last year, it might be time to raise them just a bit as Charlton embarks on year two.
He was last year’s most reliable corner and through no fault of his own, he’s been completely ousted from a starting cornerback spot. That just doesn’t seem right. With a healthy Awuzie and Byron Jones moving to corner, Lewis finds himself in a position battle with third-year veteran Anthony Brown. The Michigan corner is ultra-competitive and don’t be surprised if he takes back what is rightfully his.
It’s just important to take a moment to remind everyone that the Cowboys have one of the most reliable long-snappers in the game.
NEEDS TO REBOUND
The Cowboys slot receiver had a career best 833 yards in 2016, but then turned around and had a career worst (in seasons he played in at least 12 games) with 314 yards last season. His 57% catch rate was also a career worst. The receiving group was all out of sorts last year and Beasley was right in the middle of it.
Brown had a great rookie season, which earned him a starting outside corner job last year. But as good as his first year was, his second year was equally bad and he was eventually sent to the bench. Dallas is stronger at cornerback this year so Brown won’t be overextended, but don’t expect him to just take a backseat to these younger guys. The guy has a chip on his shoulder.
After a brilliant rookie season, Prescott also encountered some hurdles last year, but a lot of them were attributed to a lack of blind side protection. A bolstered offensive line, a remodeled offensive line, and a couple new receiving backs are all part of this plan to help Prescott be successful in 2018.
The team’s 2015 third-round pick from Florida had a heckuva time mastering his craft last year. Whether it was at left guard or left tackle, Green was just terrible. Many thought he might have played himself out of a job in Dallas, but he’s still here. Who knows, maybe new offensive line coach Paul Alexander can restore some confidence in the young feller.
Williams actually had a standard-type season last year. He caught as many passes as he typically catches and he had as many yards as he typically has, but he was missing one important element to his game - touchdowns. Yep, TDub never scored. People remember that. They also remember when balls bounce off your chest and into a defenders hands for a pick six. They also remember if you crash up your fancy sports car in a drunken stupor. Williams needs to get himself back on track and the quickest way to do that is take one of those comeback routes to the house.
He’s left off many roster predictions, but that’s a big mistake. Don’t let the draft cost fool you. Wilson has some big playmaking ability and the team will find a way to use him. Better claim him now as your offensive pet cat because when the quality arms of Cooper Rush and Mike White are throwing him bombs in preseason against scrubby defenders, it’s going to be hard not to notice him.
With Maliek Collins missing time with a foot injury and David Irving having all sorts of personal issues, the Cowboys have an immediate need for someone to step up at defensive tackle. Ward is off to a good start and could be a sneaky good candidate to log some heavy reps on the interior defensive line.
He may be on the outside looking in, but there’s been a lot of praise thrown his way when it comes to how hard he is working to make the team. Lenoir fits the dark horse description well as not too many people see him as a guy whose got a legit shot, but don’t tell him that. Receiving jobs are still up for grabs and Lenoir is going to fight until the very end.
UNDER THE RADAR
With both Collins and Irving unavailable, two first-team spots are open at defensive tackle when training camp begins. Ward looks like a candidate for one of them, but you might find Jones right along side him. He was great for the Cowboys late last season and is looking to earn even more snaps this year.
Jarwin’s name came up a few times for this category, but I’m not sure he’s flying that much under the radar. He’s already building chemistry with Dak and with no solid number one tight end, the job is his for the taking. Rico Gathers continues to struggle with is blocking, Geoff Swaim hasn’t really demonstrated his ability as a pass catcher, and Dalton Schultz is a rookie still working on the intricacies of his craft. Despite being an undrafted free agent who only played in three offensive snaps last year, he’s still one the best candidates at tight end.
Cooper Rush had such a great preseason last year and we can’t wait to see what he does this season. We also can’t wait to see what the team’s new fifth-round investment Mike White can do. It should be a fun quarterback battle that provides the added bonus of helping evaluate all the team’s receivers.
Okay, so now it’s your turn. Let us know which players you’d pick for each category down in the comments.