The battle for the final spots among the Cowboys’ receiving corps has been a hot topic all offseason. The debate really picked up steam when the Cowboys released veteran Allen Hurns; that was a signal that there was a true battle happening at the bottom end of that position group.
At the top of the group, things were set once the team inked free agent Randall Cobb. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup would return as the top wideouts while Cobb would slide into the slot vacated by Cole Beasley. Tavon Austin appears to be the top backup as his versatility allows him to play inside or outside, while also being a threat on handoffs and special teams.
Beyond that it’s a free-for-all. All the talk from OTAs into training camp had surrounded the trio of Jon’Vea Johnson, Jalen Guyton and Reggie Davis. Each had done things to turn heads early on, but with the advent of the preseason games their flaws have been exposed. Johnson is really adept at getting open, not so adept at catching the ball. Guyton has showcased his speed in practices, he’s yet to do anything once the preseason games arrived. Davis has been much the same as Guyton, and even managed to muff a punt as he was used as the primary punt return man against the Rams.
The Cowboys still have injured vet Noah Brown waiting in the wings, but it’s unknown how the blocking receiver will fit in Kellen Moore’s offense. Additionally, Cedric Wilson was having a good game last week until he suffered a concussion and had to sit out this week. He’ll certainly be in the mix.
That’s a lot of bodies trying to grab what is likely two spots on the receiving corps.
There is one guy, though, who seems to be really creating some separation in this race, someone who has rarely been mentioned as a contender. Devin Smith has put together a nice couple of preseason games and may be starting to live up to his draft pedigree from long ago.
In two preseason games, Smith leads the Cowboys in receptions (6) and yards (78). He also has the Cowboys only touchdown through the air. He also did something in the 49ers game that no one else has been able to do, he briefly made Mike White look like an NFL quarterback.
Most Cowboys fans know most of Smith’s history. A star player at Ohio State, he was a second-round selection of the Jets in 2015 but multiple ACL injuries have robbed him of his career so far. He’s finally healthy again, and is flashing some of the potential that got him drafted in the second round.
In the Rams game, Smith did a quality job of putting six on the board.
Smith turned to see if Cooper Rush was looking his way before he got too deep into the endzone. Once he sees the ball coming, he does a nice job of creating just a hint of separation, then going up and high-pointing the ball while keeping himself in bounds.
Our own DannyPhantom opined about Smith making a sneaky move into contention for the 53-man roaster last week. It’s turned out to be a prescient thought as Smith continues to produce. He’s now fully in the conversation about making the roster.
Of course, we’ve all seen preseason stars fizzle out, so Smith still has a lot of work ahead of him to make the 53-man roster. But his performance so far has firmly put him in the conversation. We’ll see if he can keep it up.
Preseason receiving stats