3 dark horses to make Cowboys’ 53-man roster, including a rookie with a valuable trait - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Taking a look at some players who have a shot to surprise us all and crack the 53-man roster.
Coming off a redshirt season with 27 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, many believed Carter had the goods to make Dallas’ 53-man roster from the jump. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to fruition, and after spending the first three weeks of the season on the Cowboys practice squad, Carter was signed to the Indianapolis Colts 53-man roster in late September, seemingly bringing Carter’s Cowboys career to an end.
However, when the Colts waived Carter in November, the Cowboys were able to swoop in and sign the developmental defensive lineman to their 53-man roster, appearing in three games and finishing with one tackle. Despite finishing last year on the roster, Carter has seemingly been forgotten among 53-man roster projections.
At 6-foot-3 and 269 pounds, Carter is a bit of a tweener who could bounce between defensive end and defensive tackle. Carter seems like a strong fit for the “big end” role in Dan Quinn’s 3-4 scheme, where he would be tasked with aligning anywhere from a heavy five-technique (outside shade of offensive tackle) to a three-technique (outside shade of offensive guard) and everything in between. They often are tasked with two-gapping and have to be strong run defenders.
Will 2021 be Michael Gallup’s last season in Dallas?
Kyle Youmans: It's a pretty lame answer to a really good question, but I think this will be really clear after the 2021 season comes to a close. Will Gallup have the type of season he did in 2019 and earn his way to a big-money contract from the Cowboys or another team? Or will he be third in the pecking order for a second year in a row behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb? Either way, there is a big chance for Gallup on the table entering the final year of his rookie deal, especially when looking at other wide receiver deals signed this offseason.
On the long-term scale, Corey Davis signed a 3-year, $37.5 million contract with the Jets and Curtis Samuel signed for 3-years and $35.5 million in Washington. Each of which are around the deals that Gallup would earn should he have a big season with the return of Dak Prescott. Short-term wise, JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a one year prove it deal to stay with Pittsburgh after a rough 2020, something we could see for Gallup should he have similar production.
The third-year linemen will compete with Tyler Biadasz and Connor Williams for a starting spot.
In McGovern’s rookie year in 2019, reports had him potentially pushing Connor Williams for the starting job at left guard near the end of training camp. But then McGovern suffered a pectoral injury that cost him the entire preseason and eventually spent the entire year on injured reserve.
Last year, back from injury, Connor again saw his offseason work cut short by the pandemic. The usual late-spring and summer practices were held virtually and eventually the entire 2020 preseason was cancelled.
Now McGovern heads into his third season still having yet to play in even a single preseason game. That isn’t to say we’ve never seen him; Connor had eight starts in 2020 after Dallas’ offensive line was decimated by injuries. But you can clearly see where this 23-year-old prospect has had some major roadblocks trying to get his career going.
Offense is great, but the Dallas defense is the key to a potential return to the playoffs.
Dallas is going to score, that’s not the team’s problem. However, if they want to make it back to the playoffs and have a chance at the Lombardi trophy, their defense probably has to step up. Although the game is possibly changing to more offense and scoring, defense still does “win championships.” One example is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from a season ago.
The Buccaneers had a firepower offense but also had a solid defense that ranked sixth in yards allowed per game (327.1), first in rush yards allowed per game (80.6), and fourth in quarterback sacks (48). Yes, they had quarterback Tom Brady, but they held arguably the best offense in the league (Kansas City Chiefs) in the Super Bowl to just nine points.
Defense is just as important as offense, especially in the playoffs. As a result, the Cowboys likely have to play much better defense than they did in 2020. This unit ranked at the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category including rush yards allowed per game (158.8), points allowed per game (29.6), and opponent’s yards per game (386.4).
Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright Give the Cowboys a Bright Future at the Cornerback Position - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star
If the Cowboys want to have success on defense this season, they will need lots of production from their two rookie cornerbacks.
Despite not being a hot commodity in the draft, Wright has turned heads during OTAs and minicamp. So much so that Head Coach Mike McCarthy raved about his play earlier this month “He’s made some plays,” McCarthy said, via the team’s website. “There are some technique things, which we all are going through right now at pretty much every position. But yeah, I really like the way that he’s jumped in here. He’s been aggressive, competitive. Definitely what you’re looking for in your young guys.”
Wright has physical attributes you can’t teach. He may only weigh 185 pounds due to his thin frame, but he stands at 6’4 with a 78-inch wingspan. That height and length fit the prototype for what Quinn likes at the cornerback position. Also, with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash and wide receiver instincts from his high school days, Wright has a strong foundation to work with while he continues to translate his game to the NFL.
The third-rounder is now turning his attention to training camp which will be the true test to measure what he’s learned up to this point. The transition to the professional level has been a good one so far for Wright and he’s taken bits and pieces from more experienced players.
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