Jourdan Lewis has been overlooked in the Cowboys secondary for almost his entire career.
Let’s not forget, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had already been hired in March when the Cowboys decided to re-sign Lewis to a three-year contract.
As Lewis recalled the free-agent process back in March, it sounds like Quinn and head coach Mike McCarthy have a plan for him.
“I hit the market, and after that year I just wasn’t too sure,” Lewis said. “And we didn’t have our DC come back, so it was up in the air. They hit me up and said ‘We’d love to have you back, we’ve got some things for you to do,’ and I was like ‘I’m for it.’”
So what’s the plan exactly?
“Just move me around and make plays, honestly,” Lewis said after an OTA practice. “They saw I had the ability to do so, and they wanted me to come back, and they felt like I had some unfinished business.”
Lewis signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract, a deal that will likely secure a significant role on the defense, most likely as the nickel corner.
“Yeah. I’m going to be in the box,” Lewis said. “I’m going to be able to make plays around the field and move around the field. It’s going to be cool. But at the same time, you’ve still got some unfinished business to do. It’s amazing to have the financial freedom to do what you want, but at the same time you still have to produce on the field.”
Plenty of speculation lately over where Leighton Vander Esch fits on the Cowboys in 2021.
Based on Jaylon Smith’s salary, decline in play, and the the trade rumors swirling about (if you believe them), this is probably Jaylon Smith’s last season in Dallas. That applies for LVE as well since the Cowboys have declined his option, preferring to make him a free agent sooner rather than later.
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly going to use both of their veteran linebackers, but the question is how much. Neither player performed well in 2019 or 2020, so there’s little reason to think they will in 2021. If Dallas drastically improves their line play in front of them, improvement is possible, but even that may not be enough to warrant a ton of snaps.
For as much as he struggles, Jaylon Smith has a bit of swiss army to his game. He’s played WILL and MIKE quite a bit and has the skill set to play SAM as well (somewhere I think he’s best suited). But LVE not so much.
With his length and athleticism, LVE projects best at MIKE. The Dallas Cowboys spoke of their desire to get him in the middle for quite a while too. The only problem is LVE needs to be kept clean to be of any use. He struggles getting off of blocks (even more than Jaylon) and he’s been absolutely abysmal in coverage. For as bad as Jaylon has been in coverage, LVE has been considerably worse.
3 Cowboys Rookies with the Biggest Shot to Have a Big Impact in 2021 - John Williams, Inside The Star
The rookie class will have an impact, but just who will be the players creating the impact is the question.
3. Josh Ball, Offensive Tackle
The circumstances regarding Josh Ball’s fall to the fourth round are certainly troubling. At the same time, he’s part of the Dallas Cowboys now. By all accounts, he’s a pretty good player that should vie for the Cowboys swing tackle spot during training camp.
Given Tyron Smith’s penchant for missing games (3 a year from 2016 to 2019, and 14 games in 2020), the Cowboys need someone with starter’s potential to minimize the drop-off if Tyron Smith is forced to miss time again in 2021.
Given that Smith has missed so many games, it’s a near certainty that a backup offensive tackle will have to play some in 2021, and that’s where Josh Ball has a chance to make an impact. If he can be better than Brandon Knight or Terence Steele were in 2020, then it could keep the Cowboys’ offense from suffering any major setback in the game plan or their performance.
The Cowboys are hoping they have solved their defensive tackle issues.
Dallas Cowboys: Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA
The Dallas Cowboys came into the offseason with a couple of major defensive needs. They were putrid against the run in 2020, ranking 31st in yards allowed, and they notched a mere 31 sacks on the season. Rookie third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa has the potential to address both issues.
A bit of a ‘tweener at 6’2” and 280 pounds, Odighizuwa isn’t going to be a gap-filling space-eater for Dallas. However, he has positional versatility and the athleticism and quickness off the snap to be a penetrator against both the run and the pass.
“As long as he is playing around 280 pounds, he will have trouble handling NFL double-teams, but he has the versatility to potentially play defensive end beyond shooting gaps from a 3-technique position,” Justis Mosqueda of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.
This past season, Odighizuwa amassed 30 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks.
The Cowboys linebacker is actually returning from injury.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith had left wrist surgery in January shortly after the season ended. Smith is participating in some of the organized team activities, but not all, as he works his way back.
“Rehab is going well on the wrist,” Smith said, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “It’s just taking everything day by day. Obviously, we’re a month or two out from camp, so the Cowboys want to be smart with all of their guys on just making sure that we’re not doing anything unnecessary until needed. I’m feeling great. I’m in the best shape of my life. The wrist is running its course. It’s all a matter of time.”
Smith popped up on the team’s injury report late last season because of the wrist, and he played the season finale with the injury well protected. Smith played all 16 games for the fourth consecutive season and started every game for the third season in a row.
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