No preseason is going to hurt all but maybe a handful of rookies.
The Cowboys lost veteran and former first-round pick Byron Jones to free agency in the 2020 offseason, but their cap situation and other in-house free agents dictated that they would have to find Jones’ replacement in the 2020 NFL Draft.
While Jones came into the league with positional versatility and did both safety and corner for the Cowboys, among other things, Diggs is coming into the NFL on a direct path as an outside cornerback.
A converted wide receiver like his brother (Bills WR Stefon Diggs), Trevon has the size, fluid hips, long limbs, and excellent man coverage skills to be successful as a rookie in the NFL, even if there are some feast and famine moments.
I don’t think there’s any question the Cowboys are hoping Diggs can continue the trajectory he was on at Alabama and develop into a starting outside cornerback along with Chidobe Awuzie.
Luke Gifford has a chance to help out a lot this season.
How Does He Make It: With no preseason games expected, it’ll be an uphill climb for any rookie linebacker on the roster once the Cowboys trim down to an NFL-required 80 players for training camp practice beginning in mid-August, per the reported agreement between the NFL and NFLPA. At least Gifford got some experience last season. The Cowboys have one of the deeper linebacker groups in the NFC when at full strength, but it’s a taxing position. The projected top four linebackers on the depth chart (Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee and Joe Thomas) have all missed multiple games with injuries in their careers. The team needs players like Gifford to be able to step up and provide quality depth. In addition to the sprained ankle that cost him time early in the regular season, Gifford ended the year on IR with a broken arm.
How He Can Help: Special teams, just like any player pushing for a roster spot. Gifford tied for the Cowboys’ fifth-most special teams tackles last year (6) despite playing only 58 snaps in six games. New special teams coordinator John Fassel will be looking to find more consistency on all units, and Gifford was productive in limited work last year.
Top 2020 training camp battles for Cowboys: Jourdan Lewis enters another pressure-packed fight, and more - Patrik Walker, CBSSports.com
There are plenty of battles to watch in this unique training camp.
D-Line: Antwaun Woods vs. Neville Gallimore
Neville Gallimore DAL • DT • 75
The curious case of Woods still looms as training camp readies to fire up, but it’s clear he’s none too pleased with his situation in Dallas. Woods came on strong after signing a two-year deal with the Cowboys in 2018. Once looked upon as a camp body, his fiery demeanor and unwillingness to back down won the hearts of Marinelli and Garrett, and he went on to become one of the more productive nose tackles in the league that season. Things were noticeably different in Year 2, however, as the veteran battled injury that cost him games and ultimately cost him his starting spot on the roster in 2020.
That seat now belongs to the newly-acquired Dontari Poe, an All-Pro with a better resume who has the eye of McCarthy, Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Poe is immediately being viewed as an upgrade at 1-tech, and things didn’t get much better for Woods when the team selected Gallimore in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The latter has the potential to be a destructive force in rotation with Poe, leaving some to wonder where Woods fits in all of this — assuming he fits at all.
It’s Cowboys or bust for Woods in 2020, considering he’s an exclusive rights free agent. That means the team holds his rights and if he chooses to not sign, he won’t be allowed into the NFL this coming season. The expectation, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CBS Sports, was that Woods would sign his ERFA tender and suit up in camp.
Cowboys WR Jon’Vea Johnson Placed on Reserve/COVID-19 List Before Camp - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star
The latest testing program uncovers a Cowboys player with the virus.
Johnson was one of Dallas’ most hyped-up players going into the 2019 preseason but didn’t live up to the expectations. If he can regain confidence in his catching ability to add to his crisp route running, Jon’Vea could threaten the bottom of the WR depth cart this season.
It won’t be easy; Dallas still has several prospects like Devin Smith, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and Ventell Bryant who all have regular-season experience. They also have some intriguing new rookies in Kendrick Rogers and Aaron Parker.
For his sake, hopefully Jon’Vea Johnson won’t be out long and he’ll get his chance to compete as the Cowboys put together their 2020 roster over the next several weeks.
On the question if the Seahawks overpaid for Jamal Adams.
Did the Seahawks overpay for Jamal Adams? I know part of your answer will be “not if they win the Super Bowl.” Were the Cowboys in trade talks with the Jets, too? If so, what did they offer?— WALTER DEBELL / TROY, NY
Rob: I’ll answer this in general terms: the Cowboys really value their high draft picks. The Amari Cooper deal two years ago has worked out, obviously, but at the time, trading a first-round pick was something the front office really had to weigh. They’ve dealt multiple first-round picks for veteran starters in the past and it hasn’t worked out. I just don’t see that as being part of their general philosophy. Factor in the uncertainty about the salary cap next year, and teams might need to hit on their draft picks more than ever because there simply might not be much cap space to sign players through free agency.
David: We know the Cowboys tried to make this happen in October, but I don’t think they were part of the conversation this time around. And even if they were, I imagine they’d have hung up the phone quickly once they heard what the Jets were seeking. You’re right that no one will care what the Seahawks paid if Jamal Adams helps them win a Super Bowl. At the same time, two first-round picks, a third-round pick and a solid starter is a huge price to pay. With how well the Cowboys have drafted these past six years, there’s no way I’d pull the trigger on that deal.
More love for the Cowboys roster.
Rank 7 Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys could be even higher on the list, but they have a good amount of starters who need to be more consistent. The unit that has been exceptional for the last half-decade is the offensive line, which has paved the way for Dallas’ offensive trio (QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Amari Cooper). This offense has real potential to be the league’s best under new head coach Mike McCarthy, especially if players like Michael Gallup, rookie CeeDee Lamb and TE Blake Jarwin can make a leap in 2020. The Dallas D is littered with talent on all three levels — it’s just a matter of whether they can play together and stay on the field (looking at you, Sean Lee and Leighton Vander Esch).
We are building a 53-man roster across the BTB podcast network. Up first is the offensive line.
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