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Cowboys news: Ranking the top ten Cowboys on the roster

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Divisional Round - Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking the Cowboys’ roster: Nos. 10-1 - Jon Machota, SportsDay
The Cowboys’ beat writer has been ranking the top 50 roster spots and has arrived at the top ten.

9.) Jaylon Smith, LB -- Smith showed last season the type of elite play-making ability that he demonstrated throughout his time as a top prospect at Notre Dame. The Cowboys had to wait two years for Smith to fully recover from the gruesome knee injury he suffered in college, but it appears to have been worth the early second-round gamble they took in 2016.

8.) Travis Frederick, C -- Coming back from missing an entire season, no one is certain how close Frederick will get to playing like his old self. When healthy, the four-time Pro Bowler is as good, if not better, than any center in the game. Even if he’s not 100 percent, Frederick could still be among the league’s best at his position.

Guest FMIA: Indy GM Chris Ballard on Scouting and the Power of Sundays – Chris Ballard, Football Morning in America
With Peter King on vacation the Colts’ GM provides some very interesting insights into NFL decision-making. A terrific, in-depth read.

I get asked all the time what it’s like to be the general manager of the Colts throughout the draft process, and what it’s like inside the room on draft night. The journey is a grind. It can be exhausting at times. But the hard work and dedication only confirms our confidence in the players we select during the draft.

No two teams in the NFL draft alike. No two teams scout the same way, or use exact traits and characteristics when they look for players. Working for three organizations—Chicago, Kansas City and Indianapolis—and working as an area scout, a pro scouting director, a player personnel director and a director of football operations before taking the GM job here, I’ve seen how all 32 teams evaluate and draft. In two decades in the scouting business, I’ve seen how mentors like former Bears GM Jerry Angelo did it, how my Chiefs bosses Andy Reid and John Dorsey do it, and how other friends and competitors at other teams do it.

You might be surprised in our process that there’s a former Green Beret involved; his unique interviewing techniques help us strip away the agent-speak and happy talk that surround so many players in the draft process. You might be surprised that we’ve borrowed something from the brain trust at Pixar called “The Room of Candor,” so honesty is the only policy in the draft discussions.

I never want to look back at any decision we’ve made and think we didn’t have the real, unvarnished facts on the table when we’ve made these important choices.

How Much Money On Brett Maher? - Staff,
A year ago virtually no one knew who Brett Maher was; now the question is can he add consistency to the late-game and long-field goal feats he provided last season.

It’s safe to say we’ll be paying attention to the kickers this summer.

For so many years the position was a foregone conclusion. Yes, the Cowboys would always bring in a kicker to help spell Dan Bailey, but that precious roster spot was always a lock.

Until it wasn’t.

We know how that story played out. Brett Maher had a sensational preseason, prompting the Cowboys’ stunning decision to release Bailey last summer. And Maher justified the decision, nailing 16 consecutive kicks during the first half of the season.

The back stretch saw highs and lows. Maher had some amazing moments, hitting multiple game winners, not to mention long kicks from as far as 62 yards out. He also struggled from close ranger, with multiple misses from inside 40 yards and a missed extra point.

Which begs the question, which Brett Maher are the Cowboys getting in 2019?

Physical Tools Bring Possibilities For Dowell - Staff,
The Mothership’s staff has been breaking down individual players all season and looks at an undrafted rookie’s longshot bid.

Linebacker Andrew Dowell.

Role/Roster Chances: Linebacker coach Ben Bloom started calling Dowell a few weeks before the draft to let him know the Cowboys were interested. But Dowell’s got an uphill battle to make the roster, but the practice squad is a potential fit for a player who has the physical tools. He’s a 6-1, 225-pound outside linebacker who moves around nicely. The Cowboys not only have their young starters for the future with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith; they have depth that they like, as well. But Dowell will have a chance to impress at training camp and in preseason special teams opportunities.

NFC East training camp preview: Key players, battles to watch - Jeremy Bergman,
With training camp right around the corner we get an overview of the NFC East, and praise for the Cowboys’ roster.

Most important position battle: strong safety. Dallas' roster is rock solid in nearly every phase except perhaps the secondary -- and particularly at safety. The Cowboys have found their cornerbacks of the present/future in Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones, who is returning from hip surgery, but at safety, Dallas is still tinkering. Xavier Woods looks to have the free safety position locked down, but at strong safety, longtime Cowboy Jeff Heath and free-agent acquisition George Iloka are vying for starting snaps. Heath has been with Dallas for the entirety of his career and started 33 total games over the last two seasons, but Iloka could provide different plusses than Heath, like tackling. The Cowboys vet missed 19 tackles in 2018, per Pro Football Focus, the second-most among all safeties. And then there's the specter of a safety who isn't even on the roster: free-agent veteran Eric Berry.

Top 25 quarterbacks of all time: Patriots' Tom Brady leads list - Elliott Harrison,
Lists are always infuriating fun because we can all argue about who’s missing or rated too high. Find out where Captain Comeback ends up on this list of the NFL’s all-time best quarterbacks.

There is only one Roger Staubach. There will never be another player like him, much less quarterback. He served in the Navy for four years, including a tour in Vietnam, upon graduating from the academy and was the ultimate franchise representative, embodying all that was right about professional sports while never being a distraction to his team, save for the artificial one Tom Landry created when he began rotating a young Staubach and Craig Morton EVERY PLAY. What young quarterback has ever had to deal with THAT? Staubach was the face of the franchise, and by the late 1970s, the face of the entire league. In the middle of it all was a relatively brief, yet exemplary career. In only eight seasons as a starter, Staubach started four Super Bowls (winning two), led the league in passer rating four times, and finished with an 85-29 record.

Losing out on those four seasons while he served in the Navy and the fact that he might have played longer had injuries, especially concussions, not piled up on him ultimately hurts Staubach on this list. Rightfully so, as longevity is part of the deal. Yet, Staubach didn't go out with a whimper like so many Hall of Fame quarterbacks. He led the NFC in passer rating in each of his final three seasons, and made the Pro Bowl in each of those years. Staubach led a ferocious comeback in his final regular season game, throwing two touchdowns in the final two minutes and change to beat the Redskins, and win the NFC East. He didn't merely end with a flourish, either. In Staubach's first full season as a starter, he went 13-0, won the Super Bowl, and finished with a 104.8 passer rating, the loftiest mark of the 1970s.

#CowboysNation lost a good one yesterday. He was known as Birddog around the internet and was always a friend to BTB, offering insight and perspective. He spent time doing so many things in sports, and we benefited from his generosity and his knowledge. Please consider donating to his family to help cover medical and funeral costs. RIP.

Mesmerizing speed could force Jon’Vea Johnson onto Cowboys roster - C.C. Boorman, CowboysWire
How to stand out among a crowded group of receivers vying for a limited number of roster spots? Run faster than the competition.

Beyond the three locks, Johnson will be facing off against the rest of the field, and chief among the things that should help is that he possesses the one unteachable trait coaches crave: blazing speed.

Per times from his pro day, he has 4.38 speed.

Standing out in a collection of talent is nothing new for the former Toledo Rocket. He carved out a role for himself in college, performing as part of an excellent trio with the likes of Pittsburgh’s 2019 third round pick Dionte Johnson and Chiefs’ rookie Cody Thompson.

Reactive Playcalling in the NFL - Bryce Rossler, The SIS Blog
Analytics and “amateur” bloggers have resulted in an explosion of new statistical measurements, with writers providing insights we previously haven’t seen. “Reactive playcalling” has been around for a while, but I’ve never seen anyone put metrics to it before. How do the Cowboys compare in such situations?

About a year ago, I became interested in the idea of “reactive offense,” a concept invented by Bill Walsh which he eventually detailed in his manifesto Finding the Winning Edge. The late, great 49ers coach was notoriously obsessive in his preparation and believed that it was valuable to understand how playcallers might behave differently following a particular outcome on a play.

“Defensive coaches base much of their game plans on the offensive tendencies of their opponents,” he wrote, “Such tendencies typically evolve from the offense’s reaction to such fundamental factors as down, distance, field position, personnel, situational circumstances, and contingency plans…Collectively, these special plays are commonly referred to as a team’s “reactive offense.”

Walsh asserted that the conventional reactive situations were:

A first down call after getting a first down rushing.

A first down call after getting a first down passing.

A first down call after the completion of an explosive pass.

A first down call after an explosive run.

A first down call after a positive penalty (i.e., 1st and 5).

A second down call after a sack.

The next first down call to start a series after your team has lost the ball on a fumble or interception.

A first down call to start a series after your opponent’s loss of a possession due to a turnover.

By Bryce Rossler

Cowboys 1st & 10: How ‘Creative’ Should Cowboys offense get? - Matthew Postins, 247Sports
Three ways the Cowboys’ offense can be more “creative” under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Second, let’s move these guys around in formation. In many ways, NFL offenses are still built around the archaic X, Y and X receiver trees. As much as I liked Dez Bryant and as much as he improved in his route-running, he was limited, in terms of his success, to a particular side of the field. The Cowboys now have a receiving corps that, to me, screams positionless football (think the Golden State Warriors on offense). Amari Cooper can line up on either side of Prescott. Free-agent pickup Randall Cobb has slot and outside receiver skills. Michael Gallup should be much improved in this category his second year. Austin can move around. So can Pollard. Plus, there’s that Jason Witten guy at tight end.

There were many times I felt Linehan became locked in to having one receiver on one particular side of the field and locked into throwing the same types of passes to those players. When I talk about creativity, this is really where I’m driving at (your definition may be different). Many defenses like to have corners play a particular side of the field. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a player like Cooper and move him to the other side of the field, away from the defense’s best corner, and make those defenses adjust more consistently than the Cowboys have previously done? This, I believe, is the biggest adjustment Moore has to make to the Cowboys’ thinking on offense. If Cooper is lining up in the same place, or on the same side of the field, 40 times per game, the Cowboys aren’t going to keep teams off-balance. With this much talent and speed on the edge, Moore has to change that mindset in 2019.

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