We all know what all the sports outlets are saying about the Dallas Cowboys draft, “A’s” all around with a “B” here and there. And while the draft picks and undrafted free agents are still enjoying the moment, their focus now must turn to what they can do to get on the field and help a Cowboys team get back to the playoffs this season. We know some of these rookies won’t pan out, and some will be practice squad players, but there are few that do have a real shot and making major contributions for this team.
We know that if you are drafted by a team they are going to give you the most opportunities to get on the field, so they won’t be on this list. Instead, here’s a look at a few undrafted free agents that have the best chance to see significant playing time this season.
Darius Anderson - Running Back
Height: 5’10 Weight: 208lbs
Stat Line: 2,418 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns / 43 receptions, 224 receiving yards
Player Comparison: Damien Harris
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are locked into their positions as the number one and number two running backs on this team. The third-string position is up for grabs and could be Darius Anderson’s to lose with Jordan Chunn as the only hold over from last regime, and fellow undrafted free agent Rico Dowdle his competition. What separates Anderson from Chunn and Dowdle is his home run ability when he hits the open field. Despite Anderson’s poor 40’ time at the combine his speed is very easy to see when you turn on the game tape.
Anderson’s break away speed and lateral quickness give him the upper hand over Chunn and Dowdle who lack lateral quickness and speed. Both are more downhill runners with some pass catching abilities out of the backfield, something Anderson is also capable of. The other thing at separates Anderson for the other two is the fact that the Cowboys visited with Anderson before the draft, and when a new coaching staff is showing interest in you that has to carry some weight behind it.
Look for Anderson to get early looks as the number three running back and never relinquish it as long as he is able to get better in pass protection.
Sewo Olonilua - Fullback
Height: 6’3 Weight: 240lbs
Stat Line: 1,624 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns / 60 receptions, 383 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Player Comparison: Jamize Olawale
Why take one TCU running back when you can have two make the active roster for the Dallas Cowboys. Olonilua, unlike Anderson, will not be going in as a running back but as a fullback instead. With only one person on the roster to beat in Jamize Olawale, he standa a chance of forcing the decision. Do you want to keep the 31-year-old full back that never lived up to his potential, or the young undrafted free agent that compares favorable to Olawale.
Side-by-side Olonilua and Olawale are the similar, but when you see Olonilua on the field he is what many would call a freak a nature because a man that size shouldn’t be able to move the way he does when he gets the football in his hands.
He looks like Olawale when he was signed by the Cowboys as a rookie, he showed burst running out of the backfield and the ability to make plays as a receiver out of the back field. Olonilua seems like the best choice for the Cowboys if they are looking to get younger at the position, but also make the position relevant again in the Cowboys offense. Something that hasn’t been done since Daryl “Moose” Johnston back in the 90’s.
Ron’Dell Carter - Defensive End
Height: 6’2 Weight: 265lbs
Stat Line: 152 total tackles, 48 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended
Player Comparison: Derrick Morgan
When you are an undrafted free agent and teams compete in a bidding war to get you on their team, it’s a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when one of them is the defending NFC Champions in the San Francisco 49ers who have an eye for talented defensive linemen. Lucky for the Cowboys, Carter chose them along with a contract worth $145,000 in total guarantees — $125,000 of guaranteed base salary, and a $20,000 signing bonus which is more than many undrafted rookies will see.
Carter’s blend of size, speed and power are rare and his production is quite impressive. Totaling 23.5 sacks in three seasons with JMU you could say Carter was a game-wrecker for opposing offenses. He’s also brings a nice set of pass rush moves with him that he can deploy and win with at the NFL level.
Carter’s main threat not to make the roster comes from Joe Jackson who was drafted by the Cowboys last year. You could consider Jalen Jelks, but he could be moving to defensive tackle much like Tyrone Crawford has. So with Jackson as the main threat and this coaching staff having no real ties to Jackson, Carter could make the 55-man roster.
Teams usually don’t pay that kind of price for a player if they don’t have plans for him.