As we stand just days away from the Dallas Cowboys first official training camp practice, it is a great time to examine the roster. At this time of the year, there are always players who will catch the eye of the people and be the “next big thing” at camp.
The Dallas Cowboys have many intriguing position battles entering training camp, opening the door for some players on the fringe to possibly make the team. Today, we dive deeper into that topic by taking a look at the three best longshots to make the Cowboys’ roster.
Devin Smith WR
Coming out of college, expectations were sky-high for Devin Smith. After an outstanding four-year career at Ohio State, Smith entered the 2015 NFL Draft. The former Buckeye was selected in the second round by the New York Jets and looked to help rebuild their receiving corps, but things did not go as planned. Smith’s three-year NFL career has been plagued by injuries.
Two ACL tears, broken ribs, and a punctured lung have held Smith to just 10 total catches for 135 yards in his entire NFL career to date. In his final three years at Ohio State, Smith was one of the top targets on teams that were constantly in the hunt for a National Championship. In his senior season at Ohio State, Smith caught 33 passes for 931 yards, a 28.2 yards per catch average, and 12 touchdowns. Smith also has blazing speed, running a 4.42 40 at the 2015 combine. Below are some highlights showing how he always seemed to make things happen at Ohio State.
Now as far as the Cowboys are concerned, the wide receiver position looks to be the most competitive spot on their roster entering training camp. With Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Michael Gallup seen as the only true “locks” to make the roster, there is plenty of opportunities for guys to step up and earn a spot. Smith will be one of the many receivers competing for this opportunity, and he may be the most talented out of all of them.
Despite injury after injury, Smith never gave up. He continues to fight and hopes he can use this to inspire kids from his hometown. Quote via Lindsay Draper of dallascowboys.com.
“I’ve got an opportunity here, and I’m just trying to take full advantage of it. Injury after injury, it kind of broke me down and I got depressed for a while. My mental wasn’t right, and it was hard. But really got me over the hump is the fact that I love this game. Seeing all my friends in the NFL, seeing them succeed, I just wanted to be a part of that, especially coming from Ohio State, with a lot of guys in the pro’s doing well, I wanted to be one of those guys and show an example to the young kids in my hometown of Akron.”
It wont be easy, but Smith has probably the best shot out of any longshot on the Cowboys to make the roster this year. It is clear Smith is an extremely talented guy, it will just come down to can he stay on the field to show that. Playing fourteen games in your first three years in the NFL is not a way to stay on a roster, so if Smith wants to make the team he has to show he is durable enough to make it through an NFL season.
Chris Westry CB
At Kentucky, Chris Westry never really stood out on the stat sheet. In four seasons his highest total tackles in a year was 43 and he had 14 total pass defenses and two interceptions in his entire collegiate career. While these are not bad numbers, they don’t pop off the page, and this caused Westry to go undrafted in 2019.
Despite this, the Dallas Cowboys saw potential in him and quickly snatched him up as an UDFA, and the happiest guy about that may be Kris Richard. The Cowboys’ passing game coordinator loves tall, lengthy corners, and Westry fits that to a tee. He stands 6’4 197-lbs and has long legs and long arms.
Despite being on the skinny side, Westry showed in college he is never afraid to stick his nose in there and make a tackle, which led to some good things.
And some bad things.
Targeting on Kentucky CB Chris Westry for his massive hit against Central Michigan RB Jonathan Ward.— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) September 1, 2018
Westry has been ejected. Not even a question. pic.twitter.com/2jL1GmuWMK
Former scout Bryan Broaddus of dallascowboys.com was describes what he saw from the rookie in minicamp.
“Chris Westry is an impressive looking kid when it comes to his height. It’s not often that you see a cornerback that’s over 6-4. The challenge for these coaches will be to work with Westry on his ability to open and turn. His legs are so long that he’s not going to look quick doing it. There were a couple of snaps where he was paired with Mike Jackson, who was able to get turned around much quicker than Westry out of his pedal. Jackson is 3 inches shorter, but like Westry he has long legs too.”
With Westry fitting Richard’s prototype so well, he may have an edge over some of his competitors at the cornerback spot. If Westry is able to impress enough and earn the trust of Richard, would Dallas look to move a guy like Jourdan Lewis in favor of keeping Westry and maybe another young corner on the roster?
With all the physical talent he possesses and his perfect fit for Richard, it would be hard to see a way that Westry is not at least tried to be put through to the practice squad at the end of training camp.
Jon’Vea Johnson WR
We go from Westry to another guy who has received high praise so far, wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson. The Toledo product was also signed by Dallas as an UDFA. In his four college seasons, Johnson posted solid production. In his senior year he recorded 32 catches for 660 yards, an average of 20.6 yards per catch, to go with nine touchdowns.
Johnson is not a big receiver, at just 6’0 192 lbs, but possesses 4.3 40 speed and outstanding quickness.
Jon’Vea Johnson’s 4.3 40 and quickness show up all over tape. Just quick footwork and hits the gas to burn his guy deep. He knows how to stack as well. I’m impressed by his deep threat ability and YAC overall. Great Day 3 target. pic.twitter.com/HbNjU3s0AA— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) March 21, 2019
Coming from a smaller school, Johnson did not get the hype that other receivers did out of college, but he does bring a versatile skill set to the table. To go with his blazing speed and quickness, Johnson is a great deep threat and has the ability to play outside or in the slot.
In his battle for a roster spot, one of his biggest competitors will be the previously mentioned Devin Smith. It seems hard to think of a scenario where Johnson and Smith both make the team, so they will likely be battling for the final receiver spot on the roster.