It’s tough to be under-the-radar when you are a part of Americas Team, but here are three players who might fit the bill.
2. Tony Pollard is a capable backup to Ezekiel Elliott
The struggles of Ezekiel Elliott, either through indications of his own decline or chalked up to a banged-up offensive line, took center stage last year. But focusing on that means missing what Pollard did when he got opportunities.
After averaging 5.3 yards per carry as a rookie in 2019, Pollard got 101 carries last year as Elliott dealt with hamstring and calf injuries. In the game Elliott missed entirely, Week 15 against the San Francisco 49ers, Pollard posted 132 total yards on 18 touches (six receptions) with two rushing scores. In games he had at least nine opportunities (carries plus targets) in last year, he had at least 40 total yards five times with touchdowns in two other game he didn’t reach that threshold.
Tilting toward fantasy production, Pollard posted at least six points in full PPR eight times in 2020. In Week 14 he was RB20 in full PPR and in Week 15 when Elliott was out and his managers surely turned to him on the waiver wire or already had him as the handcuff, Pollard finished as RB1 in full PPR (and RB2 in standard scoring).
Elliott will be the Cowboys’ workhorse back, and he’s in line for a rebound season. But Pollard is a legit talent, and he should get more consistent opportunities this year.
DiNucci looking to build off his rookie year learning experiences to come back as a better version as himself in year two.
FRISCO, Texas – The 2020 Cowboys season was anything but normal, especially for then-rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci.
Last year’s seventh-round draft pick played a total of 94 snaps in three games after Dak Prescott’s ankle injury that October, including a “surreal” first career start in a 23-9 road loss to the Eagles on Nov. 1.
There are positives DiNucci takes from those moments. But make no mistake, he has enjoyed his first normal NFL offseason, featuring actual in-person workouts and practices this spring, with his first career preseason action to follow this August.
It’s a more realistic chance to prove himself at football’s most challenging position.
Tyron & Jaylon Smith’s Contracts Named Best & Worst for 2021 Cowboys - Jessie Haynie, Inside The Star
Jaylon Smith’s contract has been scrutinized over the past few years, but is it the worst deal on the team?
As you can imagine, the conversation around Jaylon Smith’s contract is very much the opposite. This Smith is the 7th-highest paid linebacker in all of football at over $12.75 million per season and was one of the lowest-graded starters in the NFL in 2020.
The Cowboys had little choice but to keep Jaylon around this season. His base salary for 2021 became fully guaranteed on March 21st, too early in the free agent process and well before the draft to know whether or not he could be replaced.
Thankfully, if Jaylon’s performance doesn’t improve this year then Dallas can get out from under the contract in 2022 with relative ease. There will be just $6.8 million in dead money left, giving the Cowboys about $5 million cap savings if Smith is released.
There’s no question that Jaylon and many other Dallas defenders were misused and poorly coached under one-year blunder Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator. The switch to Dan Quinn could help Smith to get back to doing what he’s good at and hopefully performing close to his compensation.
Jaylon Smith can be worth that $12 million-per-year again if he gets back to his 2018 form. But if not, at least it won’t be a long-term problem.
Everybody is excited to see just what Ceedee Lamb has instore for the league in year two.
After falling later than expected in the 2020 NFL Draft, CeeDee Lamb had himself a very good rookie season for America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. In his rookie season, Lamb had 74 catches for 935 yards while also having five receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown as well.
Coming out of Oklahoma, Lamb was considered to be one of the most polished products in his position group. In college, Lamb was a number one target on the outside for the most part, but expanding his game in Dallas could potentially turn him into a star at the next level.
Last season for the Dallas Cowboys, we saw Lamb appear a lot in the slot on most possessions. To emphasize that, Lamb had the second-most snaps in the slot out of anyone in the league last season. Lamb proved in college he could win one-on-ones on the outside and provided he can be a mismatch machine in the middle of the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
This Cowboys linebacker will need to make an immediate impact for their defensive unit to be successful in 2021.
After a very disappointing 2020 season, owner Jerry Jones desperately needed to upgrade the defense. More specifically, he needed to add players to defend the run. He did that by signing a hybrid linebacker in Keanu Neal to a one-year contract.
At 25-years old, he has already seen a lot of praise and criticism. That’s because he is an impact player on the field that has not been able to stay on the field.
The Atlanta Falcons under head coach Dan Quinn, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, drafted him with the 17th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. In five seasons with the team, he made the Pro Bowl once.
While he only played in 49 of 80 possible regular-season games, 28 of his missed games were from 2018 and 2019. The other three seasons saw the safety rack up 100+ tackles. That sounds similar to longtime Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.
It will be tough for this UDFA tight end to make the roster, but maybe the practice squad is his destination.
How He Got Here: Despite not hearing his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft, Artayvious Lynn did not have to wait very long before his call came following the 255th pick. The Bossier City, Louisiana native was one of a bevy of potential pass catchers that were signed as undrafted free agents along with receivers Brennan Eagles, T.J. Vasher, and Brandon Smith. A four-year letter winner at TCU, Lynn settled into a role as a steady blocking tight end with a flash of ability as a receiving target as an upperclassman.In 2020, Lynn posted his most efficient receiving season of his collegiate career with seven receptions for 88 yards. including a 48-yard touchdown reception in his season opener against Iowa State.
What’s Next: Lynn has an uphill battle ahead of him due to an overly crowded tight end room from 2020. Dalton Schultz emerged as a steady option in both the passing game and as a blocker in the absence of Blake Jarwin. Additionally, fellow undrafted free agent Sean McKeon was active for 14games last season and received significant snaps as a blocking tight end. A role similar to the one Lynn is aiming to grab. Standing about two inches shorter than McKeon, Lynn has similar armlength with over a 78-inch wingspan and a massive catch radius that has yet to be seen from his teammate.
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