The Dallas Cowboys showcased the dynamic duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup at the wide receiver position last year, and it’s only going to better with their latest edition. After 16 teams passed on the Oklahoma superstar WR CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys swooped in and added him to their collection of awesomeness. These three should bring quite a lot of firepower to the Cowboys offense.
After these first three stars, things get a little murky when it comes figuring out the rest of the wide receiver position group. On Friday, we went through what the Cowboys could be looking for at the wide receiver position. Today, we’ll run down the list of candidates and see which player has the best chance to land one of the final spots on the Cowboys roster.
THE FRONT RUNNERS
Draft: Second round (2015) by the New York Jets
The incredible skill set of the big three check off a lot of boxes as there are not many things this group can’t do; however, if there is anything missing, it’s speed. All of them have good speed, but not blazing speed. That just so happens to be Smith’s biggest asset. Once plagued by knee injuries, the veteran receiver stayed healthy all of last year. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay in the good graces of the coaching staff as he was inactive after the first four weeks of the year. With a new staff, maybe Smith will get more opportunities.
The bad news is that Smith offers up next to nothing other than being just a deep threat. He can’t return kicks, nor is he any value on special teams. The good news is that the big three are so dynamic that the Cowboys have the luxury of burning a spot just for a one-trick pony if that pony has the ability to race down the field and stretch the defense. The big three is going to result in a lot of single coverage opportunities, and Smith has the speed to exploit that.
Draft: Sixth round (2018) by the Cowboys
If the team is looking for another well-balanced receiver, then Wilson could be their guy as he brings a lot of different things to the table. He’s got long speed that resulted in an impressive 19.0 yards per reception at Boise State. At 6’3” he’s got good size to haul in contested passes. In preseason last year, Wilson had a great sense for the first-down marker as he was a first-down machine.
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
Not only does Wilson offer a lot as a receiver, his punt returning ability gives him another skill set that may come in handy. It should be noted, however, that last year he only returned two punts and did next to nothing with them. The team’s other punt returners last year, Tavon Austin and Randall Cobb, are both gone, so there could be more opportunities. The team may also choose to give the rookie Lamb some action in that department similar to what they did with Dez Bryant his first year in the league.
Wilson also has an injury history to be concerned about as he landed in injured reserve in each of his two years in the league, first with a shoulder that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season, then a knee that forced him out of the final four games last year.
Draft: Seventh round (2017) by the Cowboys
Brown has been an intriguing candidate ever since the Cowboys chose to keep a sixth wide receiver in 2017 despite already having Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Ryan Switzer. Strangely, all those other guys are gone, yet Brown still remains, although you might not know it because he’s been missing in action for a while. He’s played in a total of 21 games, but only has nine career catches, and at no point has he caught multiple passes in a game. He missed the first half of the season in 2018 with a hamstring injury, and when he returned he was used primarily on special teams, playing on over 50% of the ST snaps. Brown never saw the field last year as he was placed on PUP as he was recovering from offseason knee surgery.
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Brown. His value on special teams could have him in the mix once again. The Cowboys do have Ventell Bryant now, so Brown’s not the only wideout that has special teams appeal, but unlike Bryant, Brown can also be used as an in-line blocker on offense. For this reason, we must not close the book on Noah Brown’s time in Dallas just yet.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT
Draft: Undrafted (2019), signed by the Cincinnati Bengals
When Bryant didn’t survive the final roster cuts of the Bengals last season, the Cowboys quickly jumped on the opportunity to sign the undrafted wide receiver from Temple. When special teams ace Kavon Frazier was lost to injury, Bryant got the call up to the active roster.
Bryant’s appeal so far is his special team’s contribution as we haven’t really got to see much more than that. He has one career catch, which just so happens to be a touchdown across the middle in last year’s Thanksgiving game against Buffalo. At 6’3” he’s a big target and has pretty good hands, but does he bring enough to the table to warrant a final roster spot?
Draft: Undrafted (2019), signed by the Cowboys
Similar to Devin Smith, Johnson possesses the one trait missing from the big three - electric speed. With a 4.38 40-time, JVJ can take the top off the defense if he gets loose in the open field. For this reason, he was one of the most exciting UDFA’s entering last season’s camp. Unfortunately, a bad case of the dropsies in preseason hurt his chances to make the squad, and ultimately landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. This allowed the Cowboys to keep him on ice to see if another opportunity presented itself in the future.
Now the future is closing in and it will be interesting to see if Johnson can make a jump in Year 2. He doesn’t have much to offer in terms of route-running, but he still finds ways to get separation due to his speed. The big question is can he actually catch the ball when his number is called?
THE LONG SHOTS
Draft: Undrafted (2016), signed by the Houston Texans
Another UDFA in the mix is Tevin Jones who signed a future reserve contract with the Cowboys. He is well traveled with stops at Houston, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh, but didn’t see his first NFL action until last year when the Steelers activated him for five games. Jones has more experience than some of these younger guys, but doesn’t offer much upside. The skill set he brings to the table shouldn’t be enough to occupy a roster spot as Jones has an uphill battle to make this squad.
Draft: Undrafted (2020) by the Cowboys
This year’s new UDFA wide receiver toy is Texas A&M’s Kendrick Rogers. While there are times where he’s been simply phenomenal hauling down amazing contested passes, the total body of work is not very impressive. He only had 351 yards receiving last year, and that’s his career high.
While the athletic traits are there, Rogers struggles to create separation, which is why so many of his highlights involve a defender draped all over him. He’s got the catch radius to right the wrongs of passes that are slightly off target, but he’s a work in progress whose best chances for an NFL career requires a little time on the practice squad.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
You’d have to figure one of the special team guys make the cut. As for which one, who knows? Mike McCarthy has found good use for players like Jeff Janis and Geronimo Allison on special teams, and you know new ST coach John Fassel will be looking for reliable contributors. Brown and Bryant are about 50/50 to make the team with the other being their greatest competition. Their ability as a pass catcher shouldn’t come into play all that much unless it’s a dead heat tie coming out of camp. Prepare yourself for one of your favorite, more flashy WR’s to be left out in the cold in lieu of one of these essential workers.
The other spot could go to one of the speedsters, depending on which player shows more in camp. JVJ has a greater appeal due to his youth and upside, but right now Smith is the more proven talent.
And if neither of these guys wow the coaches, and Cedrick Wilson does - that could punch his ticket to a final roster spot. As good of a player as Wilson is, it does feel like his fate lies more in what the speedsters do, but it’s not inconceivable that both Smith and Johnson fail to impress in camp, leaving the door open for Wilson. And there’s also a remote possibility the team keeps six wide receivers, but with a deep roster - that seems very unlikely.
Which wide receiver has the best chance to make the Cowboys roster?
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