There can really be only one answer to idea of the most dangerous new addition to the Cowboys for 2021.
Dallas Cowboys: LB Micah Parsons
Speaking of players who address weaknesses, let’s examine the Dallas Cowboys’ selection of linebacker Micah Parsons. Dallas took the Penn State product with the 12th overall pick in the draft, and he should immediately improve the team’s 31st-ranked run defense.
Parsons opted out of the 2020 season—as many of this year’s top prospects did—but he was phenomenal in 2019 with 109 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks and five passes defended.
The Cowboys defense was gashed on the ground last season, which made it difficult to match points without quarterback Dak Prescott. Parsons is a fast, physical and instinctual run-stuffer who can help turn a major weakness into a strength.
Parsons isn’t only a chase-and-tackle linebacker, though. He has enough coverage and pass-rushing ability to be a true three-down linebacker right out of the gate.
There is always one or two UDFAs who turn heads in camp.
When I did my latest 53-man roster projection shortly after the draft, I didn’t have Ralston or any other UDFA making the team. The numbers just aren’t looking good for them as the draft aftermath has already seen Dallas part ways with a trusted veteran in DT Antwaun Woods and experienced, versatile depth option in G/C Adam Redmond.
But unlike the defensive or offensive lines, or pretty much any other spots on the Cowboys’ roster, there are no immediately superior prospects at fullback. After Jamize Olawale’s release in March, Dallas only had Sewo Olonilua left on the roster as an official FB prospect.
Olonilua, like Ralston now, was an undrafted free agent in 2020. After Olawale chose to opt-out of the season under the COVID-19 policy, Sewo managed to be active for just a couple games and only saw a handful of snaps on special teams. He spent most of the year on the practice squad as Dallas elected to go with no fullback for most of the season.
Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suggested as a trade target for another team - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Could LVE be LV-out?
The Cowboys may be reluctant to move LVE because of the newness of Parsons to the NFL game, and the lack of serious depth after the retirement of Sean Lee and the departure of Joe Thomas. Vander Esch is someone who can play across the linebacker positions and is certainly not the worst option as a starter. There are plenty of good reasons to hold on to him for 2021.
The counter argument is that if you are going to let him go after the 2021 season, get something for him now. Again, it’s not certain that the Cowboys won’t try to re-sign him to a deal after the season, but they have certainly restocked the linebacker room with young talent.
As with most of these matters, it all comes down to compensation. What could the Cowboys get for Vander Esch?
Which Cowboys wide receiver should you target in fantasy football in 2021? - Tommy Garnett, Pro Football Network
Get your fantasy rosters in order now.
2020 was a tale of two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys receivers in fantasy
In the first few weeks, ask any manager how they felt about their chances if they rostered a Cowboys wide receiver in fantasy. Then ask them again around Week 8 when they relied on Ben DiNucci rather than Dak Prescott. It’s safe to say their expectations had slightly changed by this point in the year.
No team was hotter than the Cowboys to start the season, and their playmakers on the perimeter benefited from this more than anyone. Thanks to Prescott playing at an MVP level and a porous defense that caused each game to be a shootout, the Cowboys turned to Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup to score the points.
With Prescott under center, the Cowboys’ triumvirate were must-starts through Week 5. Cooper led the trio as the WR8 in PPR. Averaging 17.8 points per game, Cooper caught 39 of his 55 targets for 424 yards and a touchdown. If we just went to Week 4 and removed the game where Prescott played only a half, Cooper was the WR1 in fantasy at 21.3 ppg.
Lamb was a not-so-distant second and arguably more impressive — it was the first five games of his career. He was the WR11 (17.1 ppg) on 29 receptions (49 targets) for 433 yards and 2 touchdowns. While behind Cooper in points, he led him in fantasy points per target at 2.14 to Cooper’s 1.62.
The Top Five Interior Linebackers the Dallas Cowboys Will Play in 2021 - Jordan Schultz, Inside the Star
There will be more than five stalwarts. Here are the top ones:
No. 5 – Kenneth Murray, Los Angeles Chargers – Week 2 @LA
When the Chargers selected Kenneth Murray with the 23rd overall pick 2020 everyone knew that he was set to take over as the starter at middle linebacker right away. He didn’t disappoint either, as he put together one of the strongest rookie campaigns at the position with 107 tackles, five tackles for loss, and three passes defended. He struggled in coverage at times like a lot of rookie LBs do, but he showed enough to give the Chargers full faith in him improving that skill as bulbs on his solid rookie season.
No. 4 – Blake Martinez, New York Giants – Week 5 and 15
Blake Marinez has been one of the most consistent tacklers in the league over the past four seasons, as he has recorded at least 144 tackles in all four. In his first season with the Giants last year, he was as productive as ever, finishing with 151 tackles, nine for a loss, three sacks, six QB hits, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, and an interception. Blake Martinez was highly active in his two games against the Cowboys in 2020, totaling 18 tackles, one sack, and a fumble recovery.
The Cowboys best defensive player will need to lift the defense.
While Quinn has handpicked rookies and some free agent veterans to help run his scheme in Dallas, the Cowboys have plenty of existing talent that was already on the roster waiting to be tapped. And the unquestioned leader of this group is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Entering his eighth season in Dallas, the player lovingly known as “Tank” is once again expected to be a disruptive force for the Cowboys to rely on. That’s despite posting mediocre sack numbers again last season recording just 6.5 sacks, but still leading the team in that category.
In April of 2019, Lawrence inked a five-year contract extension worth $105 million with $65 million in guarantees. That after posting 25.0 total tackles over the previous two seasons. In the two years since that sack total has dropped to a disappointing 11.5. And that’s despite being paid as the fourth highest-paid edge rusher in average yearly salary according to overthecap.com.
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