The Dallas Cowboys have a long history of finding UDFA players who go from obscurity to starring in the league. Sometimes it takes a while for these players to make their way to the starting roster, and sometimes they just become contributors on special teams or role players. But when UDFA’s can make the roster and produce, it is an added bonus.
Given the Cowboys pretty stable roster, and their eleven draft picks in the 2021 draft, UDFA’s making the roster this year will be very hard. The best a few of these guys might hope for is to make the practice squad. But which one of the current crop stands the best chance?
That question was recently asked of three writers over at the Mothership and two of them picked the same guy. Part of the reason is athletic traits, and part of the reason is the postion he plays. The Cowboys really need help at safety where they have employed a patchwork approach to the position. One player that could maybe work his way into the rotation eventually is UDFA Tyler Coyle.
Mickey Spagnola: But if one of these rookies caught my eye, it was safety Tyler Coyle of Purdue, 6-0, 209. Nice size for a safety, and sure appears to have good range. He first stood out in the rookie minicamp, always seemingly around the ball. Then, as the vets showed up for OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, the safety field began to get crowded, especially since the Cowboys decided to move sixth-round pick Israel Mukuamu from corner to safety. A graduate transfer from UConn to Purdue, Coyle unfortunately played a shortened Big 10 season. But his 4.36 Pro Day 40 sure caught the Cowboys’ eyes, and his best chance to make the 53-man roster will be with special teams skills.
Kyle Youmans: That’s why I’m looking at Tyler Coyle (Purdue) to turn some heads as an ultra-athletic safety that could really improve the play speed on a defense that has lacked such a thing lately. A former track star and four-year collegiate starter, Coyle could add depth to a thin safety position while also playing a significant role on special teams.
Unless you’re a quarterback, the route to making the team and getting on the field for UDFA’s is usually through special teams. Given Coyle’s high-level athletic traits, that could be a viable option. As a safety, Coyle has work to do in coverage on the back end and other aspects of secondary play. But as noted by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com prior to the draft, teams will always take a chance on athleticism.
A team might fall in love with the combination of size, speed and explosiveness, but it simply doesn’t manifest itself enough on tape to buy all the way in. His issues digesting combo routes and his leggy transitions are serious concerns when tasked with man coverage duties. Coyle has the speed and athletic ability to range and make plays on the football both downhill and over the top, but he only did that in one season. He appears to be a better tester than impact talent, but traits often earn players a longer look at the next level.
If a player has the athleticism, there is always the hope that he can be “coached up” into a productive player. The Cowboys are thin at safety and that opens up the possibility of someone like Coyle getting a shot as a depth player who can contribute on special teams from the position. Don't forget about Coyle as you’re watching preseason and following the 2021 training camp.