Our ever-active R.J. Ochoa took a look at the second unofficial Dallas Cowboys depth chart of the preseason. As he notes, these things are not very authoritative, and can rapidly change after the events resembling football (AKA preseason games) take place. There are some givens and some questions as we get ever closer to the cut-down to the 53-man roster (or at least the first one, since churn happens). But we are hungry for any and all hints of who may be on the team this year as they try to get back to the playoffs. And there are some names that intrigue. Here are four possible sleepers that you might want to pay attention to.
With the injury to Marcus Martin, depth in the interior line is suddenly a concern again. Enter Alsadek, He comes from a background of playing in a zone-blocking scheme that used a lot of read-options, which might have a lot to do with why the Cowboys are taking a look at him. In his NFL draft profile, it is also noted by Lance Zierlein that he may actually be more suited to a power-blocking role. Given that Dallas uses both zone and power blocking in the run game, that may make him very usable.
He is new, and may not be deemed ready to go against the Cincinnati Bengals. And if he does, he would likely not see the field until late, which is not going to give much of a read on how useful he really is. But keep an eye on him going forward. Will McClay has found some real gems lately. Could Alsadek be the latest?
Radius, as someone (cough) me (cough) once referred to him, with an unwanted assist from autocorrect, is a name we know well, since this is his second time around trying to make it with the Cowboys. The team thought enough of him coming out of college to use a sixth round pick on him in 2016, but while he made the roster, he was inactive for all games until being waived to get Darren McFadden off NFI.
What is so intriguing about him is that he was thought by many to be able to fill the role the team tried to use Lance Dunbar in, before injury derailed the latter’s career. That was thought to be part of the idea in acquiring Tavon Austin, but so far, Austin has been used almost exclusively in a more traditional wide receiver role - and has been so good at it in camp, it seems likely that is where he will stay. With the goal of trying to be less predictable on offense this season, there just might be a role for Jackson as that elusive change-of-pace running back.
That would mean the team might have to carry another RB, since Bo Scarbrough had a very good outing in the first preseason game, and also has practiced well. But Jackson did not have a bad outing himself, gaining 21 yards on six carries, including a run of 13 yards. He also caught one ball for 14 more. Maybe the team will see value in him. He was a pet cat for a lot of people the first time around. We’ll see if perhaps he can be one for the team this time.
It may be stretching the definition a bit to term Price a sleeper, but the buzz around Antwaun Woods has covered up the way Price has been grinding at defensive tackle. And while the Cowboys have something of an embarrassment of riches at defensive end, they are certainly looking for answers inside. Price has seemed to be solid to good through most of camp, and was in on some good plays in the first preseason game as well. He may well be mostly a placeholder for David Irving’s spot on the roster after the latter serves his four-game suspension, but that is still a need for the team. And there are times solid is a lot better than making occasional splashes, especially in the blue-collar world of defensive tackles.
OK, you want a real sleeper, here is one for you. The former quarterback has managed to hang around for three seasons with Dallas, which means somebody likes him. Maybe it was his willingness to switch positions when the team asked him to. Whatever, he now is vying for a spot at a real position of need for the Cowboys, safety.
Unfortunately, he is listed as a strong safety, when what the team really needs is help at free safety. Still, given the shallowness of the overall safety group, he may just have a shot. He did get a lot of snaps in the opening preseason affair, taking the field for 42% of the defensive plays, plus adding 15 snaps on special teams, or 58%. That ST work may be his best hope. The team always carries a player or two primarily as a teams ace, and with Kavon Frazier likely to be more involved in the defense, there may be an opening there for Showers. He is truly an under-the-radar player who just keeps showing up. Maybe that patience in pursuing his football dream is finally going to pay off.
There you have it, four names that are not getting a lot of attention, but that might just surprise you. All face some long odds, but right now, they still have a chance to prove themselves. After all, that is what preseason is for when you are low on the totem pole.