The Cowboys have gained praise for their drafting success the last decade, and much of it is due to their ability to get solid contributions from Day 2 draft picks. Which one of their Day 2 rookies could become the next success story for Dallas?
Nick Eatman: I’m going to say Osa Odighizuwa for this one. They all will probably have some kind of role, but it’s hard to predict the corners with Joseph and Wright. But Osa will probably get himself in the rotation enough to make the biggest difference. The more I think about this one, I could be convinced on Chauncey Golston because he actually might play more in pass-rushing situations and could get some sacks. But I’ll stick with Odighizuwa because I think he will get the chance to get plenty of reps as he rotates with the likes of Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill and maybe even the free-agent additions of Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins.
Rob Phillips: We didn’t see much of Kelvin Joseph in OTAs and minicamp because a quarantine period prevented him from practicing. But I still think Joseph will play the most of the four Day 2 draft picks, and he’s probably got the best chance to be a walk-in starter, too. It won’t be easy to overtake Anthony Brown or Jourdan Lewis for playing time, and fellow rookie Nahshon Wright had an impressive stretch of practices in the offseason. But I think Joseph’s talent will take over once he settles in for a month of training camp and preseason. He might not start right away, but he’ll play. The Cowboys drafted him in the second round for a reason.
David Helman: Mark me down as a believer in Osa Odighizua. The Cowboys liked him enough to make him the first of three third-round picks, and they clearly plan for him to get after the passer. It also helps that the defensive tackle depth chart is wide open. There should be plenty of snaps to go around at that position – and if Odighizua plays well enough, it’s not insane to think he could grab a starting job.
Cowboys CB Joseph prepared for rookie season, ‘I’m going to be ready’ - Cameron Burnett, Cowboys Wire
When the Cowboys drafted Kelvin Joseph in the second round, the immediate hope was that he’d join Trevon Diggs as the next second round cornerback to become a solid starter right away. But after missing much of the offseason program thus far, Joseph has some work to make up, a challenge he’s ready to accept.
In Dallas, Joseph also faces one of the best receiver corps in practices with the trio of Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. For Joseph, this is a huge opportunity to be able to sharpen iron with iron during practice before taking the field in 2021.
“I feel like I’m about to go practice against some of the best receivers in the NFL. So I’m going to be ready. And they’re going to make sure I’m ready.”
If Joseph impresses at training camp in Oxnard, he could propel himself into a starting role for the Cowboys in 2021, and Joseph spoke on the challenges he could face in 2021, ready to take them head-on.
“I’m excited and I’m ready to face the challenge. I feel like I put in all this work all my life, just to get to this point and I’m here surrounded by good coaches. And they’re going to get me ready to take this task at hand and get me ready to be successful with it.”
3 trades that make sense for the Cowboys, including a Super Bowl MVP to back up Dak Prescott - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Training camp is only a month away for the Cowboys, which means they’re running out of time to really churn this roster before getting into the preseason portion of the year. If Dallas wants to still add some competition, there are a few trade scenarios they could explore to do just that.
I’ve mentioned it countless times throughout this offseason, but Dallas’ backup QB situation makes me nervous. While the Cowboys season would be lost if Dak Prescott missed a big chunk of the season again, Dallas is still devoid of a backup QB who can keep the ship afloat even for just a game or two if Prescott gets knicked up.
Therefore, I think it would be wise if the Cowboys gave the Chicago Bears a call about Nick Foles. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Foles would provide a significant upgrade over Dallas’ current crop of backup QB in terms of both ability and experience, making him the perfect candidate who can keep Dallas’ offense afloat for a game or two if Prescott is forced to miss time.
In addition, Foles’ presence would enable Dallas to better evaluate its reserve weapons on the offense during training camp and in-season practice. Reports out of OTAs and minicamp were that Gilbert, Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush struggled mightily with accuracy, which makes it difficult for the reserve weapons to shine and make a name for themselves.
Given that Chicago already has Justin Fields and Andy Dalton in tow, there’s reason to believe Chicago would be interested in getting something in return for Foles, who might not even make the 53-man roster at this point. In addition, the fact that it’s post-June 1 makes any potential trade involving Foles much more palatable given the salary cap ramifications (Chicago saves almost $3 million more against the cap by waiting until post-June 1 to trade him).
Randy Gregory is again one of the pivotal defensive pieces for the Cowboys. Will this year be different? - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
It seems that every offseason contains some subplot featuring optimism for Randy Gregory to finally fit all the pieces together, and this offseason is no exception. But after a very promising 2020 campaign, this time might be different for the talented edge rusher.
Below are the “Top 5” splash play leaders for Dallas and in the far column, note the total snaps played. If you want to see why Gregory is where the Cowboys have wisely put their chips rather than another season of Smith, there you go. Smith had a nice start, but fizzled as you would think someone might after five years away from pro football. He averaged a splash play every 28.3 snaps. But Gregory was able make a play of significance every 12.5 snaps in his far more limited action (since he did not play in a game until Week 7 and played only more than 35 snaps three times). Lawrence averaged a splash once every 20.3 snaps and is probably a really good target number when snaps increase.
But, as I indicated in December when writing about Gregory, the 2020 developments of his play and maturity and probably most importantly, the NFL progressing along the lines of its substance policies, he has arrived.
As it stands, he is looking like an absolute monster. He had 15 splash plays over his last six games, which is basically Lawrence production playing opposite Lawrence. He had been every bit the player Quinn or Smith have been in the advantageous situations that Lawrence presents them because teams are constantly helping against Tank.
The Cowboys’ 2020 draft haul was widely praised at the time, and it’s held up throughout the first year especially with CeeDee Lamb emerging as one of the best young receivers. What could the 2020 class offer in their sophomore campaigns?
There should be a heated competition at the defensive tackle position this summer with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, a former defensive line coach, fueling the battle in the trenches. Neville Gallimore failed to establish himself as a dominant interior force as a rookie despite having few challengers after the departure of Trysten Hill in Week Five due to a season-ending injury.
Now, Gallimore faces more competition than ever at the position following the drafting of Osa Odighizuwa in the third round of April’s draft and the free-agent acquisition of a highly-touted run defender in veteran Brent Urban. Gallimore should show some development this summer following a proper offseason training program but will likely see fewer opportunities to shine in year two.
2021 Stat Projection: 30 total tackles, 2.0 sacks
Nick Ralston is an easy pet cat to root for: he’s a Texas boy who’s played four different positions in college and drew Daryl Johnson’s attention for his insane workout video on Twitter. But making the roster as an undrafted rookie fullback presents a big challenge.
How He Got Here: Ralston makes his way to the Cowboys from Argyle, Texas, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth, though he spent his college career with the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. One of the more prolific high school football running backs to come from the metroplex in the last decade, Ralston led Argyle to a 2013 UIL State Championship and tallied over 6,300 yards with 100 touchdowns in his prep career.
He initially elected to continue his career at Arizona State and stayed with the program for four years as part of a loaded depth chart. During his final year with the Sun Devils, head coach Herm Edwards flipped Ralston to linebacker where he earned starting reps by the end of spring practice but rarely played in the regular season. He then transferred to Louisiana where he played one season as a tight end and linebacker over 14 games in 2019.
What’s Next: Making the roster for Ralston would mean he had the best offseason and training camp of the blocking tight end/fullback hybrids. His main priority is being a bulldozer for guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard while also contributing on special teams or other short yardage scenarios. Listed at 6’0 and 237 pounds, he is built to take hits and maybe play a bit of a role in the receiving game, but very rarely. His main competition for making the roster is his fellow UDFA from 2020, Sewo Olonilua, who bumped back and forth between the active roster and the practice squad last year. If Ralston would like to ultimately take Olonilua’s role, he’ll have to do multiple things well. The last time the Cowboys carried a true fullback on the roster was 2019 with seven-year veteran Jamize Olawale before he opted out of the 2020 season and was released this past March.
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