In their latest installment of 20 Biggest Questions, the staff of DallasCowboys.com provides their choice for which player emerges as a star for the 2019 season.
Mickey Spagnola: Let me give you two star candidates: Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins. The Cowboys like Quinn at right defensive end. No, check that. They really like Quinn, the ninth-year veteran they traded for this offseason. Remember, the guy did have 6.5 sacks last year, but consider playing opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, who is sure to attract marquee attention, along with those trio of linebackers needing attention behind him. That should provide him more one-on-one opportunities while rushing the quarterback.
As for Collins, who is in a contract season, he’s always been on the verge of breaking out at the all-important three-technique defensive tackle spot, only to be derailed by various injuries. From the looks of things in offseason practices, Collins is healthy, and if this guy stays healthy defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli might have just found him his next Warren Sapp. Sapp? No, seriously.
The Mothership is helping us get acquainted with some of the new players on the team’s 90-man roster. Defensive tackle Christian Covington is profiled in their latest edition. Here is what former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus had to say.
Bryan Broaddus’ Take: As excited as I was about the trade for Robert Quinn and addition of Randall Cobb, the signing of Christian Covington is just as intriguing. Fans don’t know much about Covington’s play, but you’re sure about to find out. I was surprised that the Texans let him walk after studying his play. The Texans are an outstanding pass rushing unit and Covington was a big part of that. With all the line stunts they ran to free guys up, Covington was helping get those stunts home. His power/athletic movement allowed guys like J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney the free runs they had at quarterbacks. This guy is not just some slug inside player that occupies blocks. His ability to push the pocket is impressive, and I expect he’ll do the same for DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn this season.
A much lighter Covington looks to take a big step forward at a new position for his new Texas team.
Originally a sixth-round pick by the Houston Texans in the 2015 NFL Draft, Covington joined the team as a defensive tackle but quickly saw his role with the team change. At the time, the in-state rivals were running a 3-4 defensive scheme, so Covington was tasked with gaining weight and transitioning into a defensive end.
This move worked fairly well for the young Covington as he lined up next to J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, depending on the play, and helped seal the edge of the line and eat up blockers so his teammates could chase down quarterbacks. However, Covington never truly turned into a full-time starter for the Texans, instead, serving as more of a rotational defender. However, this didn’t affect his outlook and now Covington is set up to potentially earn a bigger role in Dallas.
He has lost 30 pounds this offseason and is moving back to defensive tackle, which is more of a natural position for the Vancouver native. Although he is perfectly capable of lining up all over the defensive line after growing up with a father, Grover Covington, who set the CFL record for sacks (154) and was named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
The team’s 2017 first-round draft pick is running out of time in Dallas.
2018 started with some promise as Charlton had a sack and a fumble recovery in the teams first home game against the Giants in week 2, but that would be his only sack of the season. Even though he managed 7 starts, a shoulder injury limited him to only appearing in 11 games, not ideal when you’re still trying to live up to being a first-round selection.
Surgery to fix the nagging shoulder injury was successful in late January and had Charlton on track to be at all of the team’s offseason activities, that was until a setback that occurred in May. He posted a picture on Twitter showing himself in a walking boot just after having arthroscopic surgery on his ankle.
With an expected recovery time of 6-8 weeks, he’ll be on track for training camp later this month. This is critical considering his missed OTA’s and mandatory minicamp. There’s no shortage of confidence from Charlton, though, saying this post surgery. “ Another minor setback but we working to get back right over here, no let(ting) off the gas, “ Charlton said. Underperforming is one thing, but once you add an inability to be available to your teammates, your chances of proving yourself become that much harder and frustrating to deal with.
Two Cowboys who are poised to have breakout seasons in 2019, including a player with great instincts - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
Having someone emerge at defensive tackle would be great for this team, but what about that other area on the team that is missing star power?
Q: Which Cowboys player is poised for a breakout season?
Scales: Defense -- Xavier Woods is entering his third NFL season and, as he settles into his role as the Cowboys’ starting free safety, his position coach believes he is primed for a breakout season.
“I think he’s really going to be one of the guys who steps up this season,” says Cowboys safeties coach Greg Jackson. “He’s a guy that can track the ball, a guy that can use his instincts to be everywhere on the field. “You hear the term ‘instinct’ a lot, as in ‘the guy has great instincts.’ But instincts come with vision and awareness. If you’ve got great vision and you’re [aware] of different things that are on the field as far as formations are concerned, that makes you even more instinctive. So, when you talk about Xavier, you talk about his knowledge, his vision. That’s going to make him a better player each year and we can see him growing.”
For anyone keeping a close eye on Jalen Thompson, we can now close the books on the Cowboys landing him in the supplemental draft.
The Cards selected defensive back Jalen Thompson out of Washington State in the fifth round of the supplemental draft on Wednesday. This is the first time the Cardinals have taken a player in a supplemental draft since 1987, per the team’s official website.
Per the supplemental draft rules, the pick takes the place of the Cardinals’ fifth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Cards owned two fifth-rounders next season due to the Josh Rosen trade.
Viewed as the best prospect in the supplemental draft, Thompson was widely expected to be taken in the later rounds after compiling 190 tackles, 11 sacks, six interceptions, 17 passes defended and two forced fumbles in three seasons at WSU. He entered the summer draft after a violation of NCAA rules.
The Cowboys can’t keep everyone and most have accepted that Collins is playing his last year with the team. That doesn’t stop Collins from hoping things work out differently.
It seems unlikely the Cowboys can afford to keep Collins after this season, and they prepared for his departure by drafting Connor McGovern in the third round this spring. But that hasn’t stopped Collins, who is entering the final year of his deal, from hoping to remain in Dallas beyond 2019.
“I would love to stay in Dallas my entire career,” Collins said during his second annual summer youth football camp in Louisiana, via Herbie Teope of The Advocate. “I love the Cowboys, I love Mr. [Jerry] Jones; I love the Jones family. I love everything about the whole organization and what they’ve done for me as a person and as a player.
While Collins might prefer to remain with the Cowboys, it’s a good bet he will find more money waiting for him in free agency. That would leave the Cowboys to move Connor Williams — a second-round pick in 2018 — from left guard to right tackle in 2020, with McGovern playing left guard. Or if Williams better adjusts to playing guard, the Cowboys could play McGovern at right tackle. Williams and McGovern both played tackle in college.
It’s not surprising that a divisional foe has caught people’s attention as a a team the Cowboys shouldn’t take for granted, but it might not be the team you expect. Broaddus and Phillips tackle this question in their latest mailbag segment.
The regular-season schedule always has surprises. It’s never as tough or easy as it looks. Who’s a mystery team on the schedule no one’s really talking about that you think will be a tough opponent? - MIKE S / PLANO, TX
Rob: Washington. Most observers say Philly is the biggest threat to Dallas in the NFC East, but that Week 2 road trip to Landover won’t be a picnic. The Redskins have to figure out who’s starting at quarterback, but their defensive line is a problem. Containing Jonathan Allen was a major challenge last year, and they’ve only added talent to the group since.
Bryan: The Washington Redskins. Look at their front on defense. They’ve got guys that can get after the quarterback with Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, plus they have those tackles that play well against the run and are hard to move. They also get back Derrius Guice at running back, which will help their young quarterback Dwayne Haskins. They’ve done a nice job of collecting talent in a make-or-break season for Jay Gruden.