When the Dallas Cowboys lost slot receiver Randall Cobb to the Houston Texans this offseason, it had many fans thinking that they would sign someone in free agency to take over that spot. But, when that didn’t happen, many started to think the Cowboys would draft another receiver, or sign Dez Bryant after he released videos of himself working out with quarterback Dak Prescott, or possibly use running back Tony Pollard as more of a utility player. Kind of like how head coach Mike McCarthy used Ty Montgomery in Green Bay, moving him all over the field to go along with his snaps at running back.
Here is another option for you to think about, what if McCarthy already thinks he has his Cobb replacement on the current roster already? What if he believes he has two players that he believes can fill in at the slot position? After his extensive analytical film studies and research on the 2019 Cowboys roster during his time off last season. McCarthy could have seen something in receivers Jon’vea Johnson and Cedrick Wilson. Both has their seasons cut short due to injuries, Johnson’s by a shoulder injury and Wilson’s with a knee issue.
Both players could find themselves useful in McCarthy’s West Coast, move-the-chains, offense if he integrates that with Kellen Moore’s already established offense. Both have their strong suites, but who is better suited to be the third receiver to start alongside Amari Cooper and Micheal Gallup right now?
Here’s a snapshot of both Wilson and Johnson’s games.
Height - 6’ 2”
Weight - 200 lbs
Wilson’s time with the Dallas Cowboys has been marred by injuries; in his first year it was a shoulder injury that ended his season and last year a knee injury landed him on IR. Before he was drafted by the Cowboys he was a focal point in Boise State’s multiple style offense. Coming from an offensive scheme that’s a hybrid of schemes including the pro-style offense and spread offense shows his ability to learn difficult schemes and has a high IQ. High enough to adjust to the hybrid offensive scheme being cooked up by McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Wide Bunch, Motion RB to 4x1.— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) February 2, 2018
Double Post, Wheel, RB in the flat.
Nice concept, but it helps if you can throw it up to Cedrick Wilson! pic.twitter.com/nzEpKv922N
While he isn’t the fastest runner on this team, he’s a smooth route runner with the ability to create separation. His ability to sell his routes to defenders before breaking off to catch the ball means he could put pressure on defenses in the middle of the field, especially in short-yardage situations. He can then use his size to box out defenders to make catches.
Cedrick Wilson sure has a nose for the marker as every single one of his catches this preseason has been for a first down. pic.twitter.com/suWr7AjNYm— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 26, 2019
McCarthy could use Wilson in the slot, and with his size he could move him outside to create better matchups for his offense. Something that his counterpart can’t do as easily due to his lack of size.
Height - 6’ 0”
Weight - 192 lbs
Johnson’s first season with the Cowboys ended the exact same way Wilson ended his, with a shoulder injury that landed him on IR. He also showed up in training camp and was generating some buzz with his play making ability in practice.
Mike White finds the rising Jon’vea Johnson. pic.twitter.com/KeiUTXr1QM— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 8, 2019
Sadly, he wasn’t able to show much during the preseason thanks his issues with drops, and poor play from quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Mike White. McCarthy could take a look at his college film to get a read on him.
When pulling up that footage, McCarthy is going to see a receiver with the ability to beat defenders at the line of scrimmage thanks to his quick burst. That quick burst was on full display in Toledo’s spread offense were Johnson consistently beat defenders off the line and used his 4.3 speed to create separation to beat defenses deep. Johnson can use both to boost his stock with McCarthy by making him a dual threat.
#Toledo WR Jon'vea Johnson is an intriguing late-round prospect. Explosive player. Tested like it too. Quick lateral movements to avoid press and easy acceleration into vertical routes. pic.twitter.com/yUXRk0mknU— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 12, 2019
Nothing is more dangerous than a receiver that is quick off the line, but can also use his speed to burn you deep. With McCarthy’s fondness for having three and four receiver sets on the field. that speedy deep threat can come in handy when the Cowboys need to keep defenses from loading the box to stop Ezekiel Elliott. Of course, for any of that to be meaningful he needs to fix his drops issue.
So who’s the better fit, Wilson or Johnson?
I’m leaning towards Johnson and that 4.3 speed to win this competition. Speed at receiver has been proven to open up an offense for both the running game and passing game. It’s hard to beat speed and Johnson has a ton of it. Wilson gives the Cowboys offense more options thanks to his size and route running ability, but he also makes it easier for defenses to stop the offense due to his lack of explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. something you really need from your slot receiver. Now if Johnson can just consistently catch the ball.