Will Michael Gallup be a Cowboy much longer?
Making Decisions Down The Depth Chart?
It’s been less than a full calendar year since the Cowboys drafted CeeDee Lamb and put together one of the best receiver corps in the league, but it’s already time to think about the future. It’s a testament to the ever-changing nature of the NFL that two seasons feels like an eternity.
To be clear, not everything is a mystery here. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have very concrete futures with the Cowboys.
Cooper signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension last spring, and while it’s possible for the team to get out from under that contract next year, it’s no guarantee that they want to. Despite missing Dak Prescott for much of the season, Cooper turned in one of the best years of his career in 2020, finishing with 1,114 yards and a career-best 92 catches.
Lamb just turned in one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history. He’s under contract through at least 2023, and it currently feels like a good bet the front office will eventually pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
What about the rest of the roster, though? The further down the list you look, the more uncertainty there is.
Michael Gallup is the most interesting of the bunch. The former third-round draft pick has blossomed into one of the Cowboys’ best success stories of the past few years. Gallup’s numbers dipped a bit after losing Prescott to injury, but he still put together an 843-yard, five-touchdown season.
Now, Gallup is headed for his all-important contract year. It’s a bit hard to believe, but 2021 will already be Gallup’s fourth season since being drafted 81st overall out of Colorado Stat – which means the Cowboys have some choices to make.
Dak Prescott is king.
With the Philadelphia Eagles trading quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, the 2016 quarterback draft class has crowned it’s winner. 15 were selected by respective cities but all have been on the move and are no longer with the team that drafted them. All except one. Though going through a contract negotiation, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys is the last man standing with his original team.
In 2016 both the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles moved mountains in order to trade up and get their guy. The Rams swapped with Tennessee for the rights to select Jared Goff and the Eagles dealt with the Cleveland Browns to acquire Carson Wentz. Prescott watched with patience as he saw the likes of Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg, Jacoby Brissett, Cody Kessler and Connor Cook all taken prior to being selected after the fourth round with Dallas’ compensatory pick.
One might be asking where these said quarterbacks are now. Well unfortunately for Lynch, Hackenberg, Kessler and Cook, they no longer have a home in the NFL.
For guys like Brissett, Goff and now Wentz, they all have new addresses. Brissett might even find a third home as he approaches free agency in 2021.
One also may ask about the seven QBs taken after Prescott. Two are no longer playing in the league, two of them are with their second team, two of them are with their fourth and one is with their fifth NFL team. Sorry Kevin Hogan.
It’s notable Prescott is still standing strong with his team. Yes, there is a tiring contract negotiation happening but based on everything the media has heard from the Jones family, something will get done. Prescott’s on the field work speaks for itself. In 69 career games, Prescott has posted a 42-27 record as a starter. He’s thrown for over 17,500 yards and has tossed 106 touchdowns to just 40 interceptions. Prescott also sports a unique running ability in which he’s tallied over 1,300 rushing yards and added 24 touchdowns to his resume. He’s a winner by all regards but an afterthought to QB-needy teams in the 2016 draft.
What could they be?
. Re-sign Andy Dalton
Last offseason the Cowboys decided to sign veteran quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year deal during the heat of contract negotiations with Prescott. The move was taken, by some, as a possible indication that Dallas might not be able to reach a deal with their starting quarterback.
That speculation was put to rest, at least temporarily, when Prescott signed a franchise-tag offer from the organization worth over $30 million. The move relegated the former Cincinnati Bengal to the role of the backup quarterback, at least that was the plan.
Then the teams’ starting signal-caller went down with a gruesome, season-ending ankle injury in the teams’ week five matchup against the New York Giants. The veteran backup was then quickly forced into action against the Giants where he managed to lead an improbable, fourth-quarter comeback to get Dallas its second win of the year.
The three-time Pro Bowl passer played admirably in his nine starts for the organization in a year that was plagued with significant injuries. Dalton finished the season with 14 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions and helped lead the struggling team to a 4-5 record in his starts.
The tenth-year passer played some of his best football towards the end of the year, albeit against less than stellar competition. Over the last four games of the season, Dalton led the team to a 3-1 record while tossing seven touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Film room: 3 prospects the Cowboys should avoid with the No. 10 pick in the 2021 NFL draft - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Avoid these guys at all costs.
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
Listed at 6-6, 260 pounds with a 15 1/2-sack season under his belt, Miami’s Gregory Rousseau checks the size and production boxes you look for in a top-10 prospect.
However, he lacks the refined skill set a defender needs to warrant the Cowboys’ 10th overall selection.
Despite finishing near the top of the leaderboard in sacks in 2019 (15.5), Rousseau tied for 29th in total pressures, which are more predictive of future production than just sacks.
For all of that sack production in 2019 (he opted out of 2020), much of it isn’t very projectable to a traditional edge defender role in the NFL. Rousseau found most of his success as a pass rusher against slower-footed guards in the ACC while struggling to produce off the edge against offensive tackles.
Rousseau, like Parsons, also lacks experience at his position, having primarily played safety in high school (although he lined up all over the defense). Because of this, Rousseau is behind some of the other edge defenders in this class in terms of hand technique and footwork against the run and pass. He lacks a plan as a pass rusher, is underdeveloped when it comes to counter moves and exposes his chest to blockers way too often. This could lead to struggles in the NFL if he’s left to rush off the edge on the majority of his snaps.
Rousseau isn’t a bad prospect, there’s just too much risk associated with his evaluation to warrant top-10 consideration. He’s one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this draft. Some will say the sack production despite his inexperience gives them confidence he’ll become a Pro Bowl-caliber player once he refines his skill set, but that kind of confidence in notable skill improvements can often get evaluators in trouble.
Cowboys 2021 NFL mock draft tracker: Why one NFL team could blow up the Cowboys plans - Dave Halprin, Blogging the Boys
What are the experts saying?
We continue our weekly dive into mock drafts projecting the #10 pick for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 NFL draft. So far in this offseason, there has been a consensus emerging around one position - cornerback - and one player - Caleb Farley - for the Cowboys in these mock drafts.
That makes sense. Cornerback is a huge need for the Cowboys heading into 2021. It’s a premier position that is worthy of a Top 10 pick. And Farley is rated as the top corner in the draft on many draft boards. No-brainer, right?
Well, there could be one little problem. The Denver Broncos. It turn out that the Broncos are in need of cornerbacks, and they pick at #9. One spot ahead of Dallas. In more and more mocks, we’re seeing Farley going to the Broncos, leaving the Cowboys to make a choice.
In four of our mocks below, with Farley gone, the Cowboys’ choice is Patrick Surtain. You can find mocks where the Cowboys choose Surtain over Farley, but in general Surtain is the fallback corner for the Cowboys if they are projected to take him. Farley nudges him out in the rankings and the mocks in most cases.
Pick 10 Dallas Cowboys
Patrick Surtain · CB
School: Alabama | Year: Junior
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys looked at an offensive or defensive lineman with this pick, but Surtain would be a welcome addition to the Dallas secondary.
Round 1 - Pick 10
ALABAMA • JR • 6’2” / 203 LBS
Dallas adds the shutdown cornerback that the team has lacked since allowing Byron Jones to walk in free agency.
Can Dan Quinn resurrect Jaylon Smith’s career?
The Good: Judging on stats, Smith has been among the most productive linebackers in the entire league the last three seasons. His career-high 160 tackles in 2020 ranked third among all NFL players. He tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries (2) and added 1.5 sacks and 6 quarterback pressures as a situational blitzer, rushing from the WILL linebacker spot or the line of scrimmage. Smith also has been remarkably durable since returning from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered before the 2016 NFL Draft. After rehabbing with the Cowboys’ athletic training staff that year, he has played in all 64 games from 2017-20, including 1,081 out of 1,105 defensive snaps last season.
The Bad: The Cowboys struggled on so many levels defensively last season, and Smith – the quarterback of the defense, handling most of the calls – obviously had a role in that. Opponents challenged the defense’s communication and gap integrity with pre-snap motion and misdirection, and it was a problem for stretches throughout the season, particularly in run defense, where the Cowboys gave up the second-most yards in franchise history. A good run defense takes all 11 players, and too often the opposing offensive line reached the second level too quickly, making life difficult for the linebackers. But for Smith and the defense to make a jump forward in 2021, they’ll have to be assignment-sound on a consistent basis. Smith’s eight penalties also tied for most on the team last season.
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