Position flex is good, and the Cowboys have it. How to use it is the question.
With the plethora of linebackers now – Jaylon, Leighton, Parsons, free agent Neal and Jabril Cox – what do you think about the idea of transitioning Cox to safety? – ROY BANNER / AMARILLO, TX
David: Just as a general philosophy, I’m not a big fan of fixing problems that don’t exist. We saw only last year how much injuries can affect a season, so depth is good. On top of that, we don’t know what the long-term future holds for Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith or Keanu Neal, so changing Cox’s position when you might need him next year seems like an overreaction. Finally, I’m not sure you’re giving a rookie the best chance to succeed by asking him to play an entirely new position the minute he walks in the door. I agree with you that safety is still a problem spot on this defense, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to fix it.
The Cowboys should be interested in this recently released safety - Terrance Watson, Blogging the Boys
Free agents are still out there.
The Dallas Cowboys once again failed to address their glaring issue at the safety position, instead they opted to draft cornerbacks in the later rounds in an effort to see if they can play the position. That my seem like a good idea inside the organization, but from the outside looking in, the Cowboys still need to find experienced depth at safety. With the draft over and teams re-evaluating their rosters there are bound to be players that end up being cut because of salary cap issues or the team just wanted to get younger at the position.
Such is the case with former Miami Dolphins safety Bobby McCain who was releases on Wednesday after the team drafted Jevon Holland in the second round. That made McCain, who’s in the final two years of his four-year contract, an easy option to cut. This could be a nice piece for the Cowboys to add to the roster behind potential starter Damontae Kazee who followed defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to Dallas this offseason. It would also give the Cowboys a former starting free safety on the roster who can come in and play immediately if Kazee isn’t ready to go when the season begins or has a set back at any point.
McCain who was drafted as a cornerback made the transition to safety in 2019 and continued to play the position last season where he racked up 51 tackles, three interceptions, and eight passes defended over those two years. Not earth-shattering numbers, but they are numbers that show he’s able to get his hand on the football. That’s something that the Cowboys right now aren’t sure they have behind Kazee, at least until they start training camp and can see these guys in action. And while McCain doesn’t meet the height and arm length requirements that the Cowboys seem to be interested in, neither does Kazee. In fact, looking at them side by side they are almost identical with Kazee at 5’10 and 30 7/8 inches in arm length while McCain is 5’9 1⁄2 with an arm length of 30 1⁄2 inches, so that argument shouldn’t apply to this player.
The Cowboys want options at backup QB.
A 2016 sixth-round draft pick, Driskel broke into the NFL with the 49ers. As a rookie, he bounced from San Francisco to Cincinnati, where he’d spend the following three seasons behind then-starting and ex-Cowboys QB Andy Dalton. Driskel appeared in nine games for the Bengals, starting five — all in 2018.
Driskel was signed by the Detroit Lions in 2019 and would make three winless starts that season, throwing for 685 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions on 59.0% passing. A hamstring injury eventually ended his Lions tenure.
Driskel, 28, went on to ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Broncos in March 2020, receiving $2.5 million fully guaranteed with a $1.5 million signing bonus. He logged 115 offensive snaps in Denver; three appearances and one start, a blowout loss to the Buccaneers. He finished the year having completed 35 of 64 balls (54.7%) for 432 yards, three TDs, and two INTs. The Broncos released Driskel on Monday.
The Florida native played collegiately for the Gators from 2011-14 prior to transferring to Louisiana Tech. His prototypical build (6-4, 234) and dual-threat ability — he notched 14 rushing touchdowns as a collegian — were foundational qualities that drew pre-draft comparisons to former Packers QB Brett Hundley.
The Cowboys roster battles will be fun to watch.
5. Quinton Bohanna No Matter What
As you look at the 53-man roster, it’s hard to figure how they’re going to be able to keep Quinton Bohanna on the roster with the depth they have along the defensive line. They’ve got a lot of depth on the interior as well.
Between Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban, and Neville Gallimore, they’ve got three guys that can help at 1-technique defensive tackle. The struggle I have with leaving Bohanna off of the 53-man roster is leaving that size and strength on the sidelines when you know the struggles that the Cowboys have had controlling to trenches. Bohanna doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but that’s not why the Cowboys drafted him.
Haynie does hedge with the possibility that Bohanna could bump a guy like Carlos Watkins off the roster with a strong training camp but states he’ll have to prove it.
If I were the Dallas Cowboys and was constructing the roster, I would do whatever it took to have the rookie from Kentucky on my gameday roster. This team has struggled too much against offensive lines that are quick to the second level like the Rams, Browns, and Vikings. Bohanna would slow the offensive line’s ability to climb to their second-level blocks, which allows this group of linebackers to do what they do best and that’s run and hit.
Film room: 3 undrafted free agents with the best chance to make the Cowboys’ roster - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
A couple of UDFAs always break through.
Tyler Coyle, S, Purdue
Tyler Coyle actually had some hype as a potential NFL player after his junior season at Connecticut, when he broke up 10 passes and secured a career-high 23 stops. However, he struggled to show that same kind of ability after transferring to Purdue in 2020, securing zero PBUs and just five stops in four games.
It seemed as though Coyle was miscast in Purdue’s defense, as he spent a lot of time near the line of scrimmage and had to fight through blocks to make plays in the running game. Moreover, playing closer to the line of scrimmage displayed glaring weaknesses in his ability to process the action, as he was often to slow to relate to receivers and was often fooled by rudimentary deception such as play-action.
Nonetheless, Coyle did much better when he was allowed to play on the perimeter or in space, using his explosiveness to drive downhill and make plays in the alley — some of the same traits he displayed in his more impressive seasons at Connecticut.
This is why, despite the fact you may see Coyle labeled a linebacker by some outlets, it’s obvious to me his best spot would be at safety.
Having said that, Coyle isn’t going to make the team because of his ability to play safety — he’s going to have to prove himself on special teams, where effort and athleticism oftentimes decide success.
Jabril Cox for DROTY.
Writing at ESPN, Mike Brenner of Pro Football Focus is rating Cox as the No. 1 steal in this draft.
“The fact that the Cowboys even drafted Cox should tell you how high they were on his services,’’ he writes. “The Cowboys took the LSU linebacker in the fourth round despite a relative logjam at off-the-ball linebacker, with Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, newly signed free agent Keanu Neal, and first-round pick Micah Parsons in the fold.’’
Of course, Cowboys fans are aware that Vander Esch and Smith could be in their final seasons in Dallas, and that Neal signed just a one-year deal here. So it is possible to think of Parsons and Cox as the future core of this group.
For now? All of those guys are ahead of Cox. So figure him as a special-teams helper to start - he runs a 4.5 40 - and as a chess piece to be used by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as this thing progresses.
Eventually, Cox can be a “coverage linebacker,’’ as PFF points out.
“Cox was the 45th-ranked player on PFF’s draft board and has earned coverage grades over 80.0 in each of the past three seasons between North Dakota State and LSU,’’ PFF writes. “He saw only 41 targets this past season, but Cox still picked off three passes and broke up four more. He may not play right away, but don’t be surprised when he locks down a starting role in Dallas.”
When Will McClay speaks, we should listen.
The process behind that is a fascinating conversation, and Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel Will McClay was able to shed some light on it on Friday morning. McClay sat down to discuss the Cowboys’ conversations on draft night, as well as some of their plans for this large draft class.
Here are some of the highlights:
There’s an intriguing amount of versatility that comes with Micah Parsons as the 12th overall pick in the draft. McClay touched on Parsons’ history as a defensive end and how his ability to pressure the quarterback played into his draft evaluation.
Over the course of making 11 different picks, the Cowboys were presented with a multitude of different options. Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones acknowledged last week that the front office considered as many as six different players over the course of Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft, and wound up selecting four of them in the middle rounds. McClay expounded on those conversations and detailed how the Cowboys wound up at the decisions they made.
As one of the primary figures in the Cowboys’ draft process, McClay undoubtedly likes all 11 of the selections the team made this year. That said, he did open up about the traits and abilities that drew him specifically toward two of the Cowboys’ Day 3 draft picks, Stanford receiver Simi Fehoko and Kentucky defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna.
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