Player number two seems like a longshot to be cut.
2. Anthony Brown, Cornerback
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys took a huge risk when they let Byron Jones walk in free agency. Jones, who had a breakout season in 2018, and then played well in 2019 even if he wasn’t at the same level of the prior year, signed a massive deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Now, it’s easy to say Dallas paid the wrong player since they elected to give Jaylon Smith a big contract instead of Jones, but they do deserve some credit for letting Jones walk. To put it simply, Byron Jones was a major bust for Miami in 2020 as pointed out by Lucas Mascherin of The Landry Hat.
“Last season with the Dolphins, Jones did not play that well. He only made six plays on the ball, gave up 17.6 yards per completion and a 60.3 percent completion percentage.”
Having said all that, Dallas still didn’t do enough to replace Jones and they still shouldn’t have paid Jaylon Smith. All of these things can be true — even if some want to argue it differently.
Looking ahead to 2021, the Cowboys’ secondary is still a major question mark but they have brought in a lot of young talent. Trevon Diggs is entering his second season and could be the No. 1 corner. There’s also Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright, two rookies Dan Quinn really likes.
Dallas also re-signed Jourdan Lewis, all of which makes it hard for Anthony Brown to make the team this season. Brown, who is the highest-paid corner on the team according to OverTheCap.com, has had his share of great moments but has also been injury-prone.
Everson Griffen never quite worked out in Dallas.
Griffen tweeted some harsh criticism of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on his way out the door, stating “Kirk Cousins is ass” and “ask (coach Mike) Zimmer if he wanted Kirk”. Those are not kind words directed towards the face of the team, and it’s tough to see him making amends this shortly after his departure.
Minnesota Vikings: Everson Griffen wants to return
Griffen had six sacks in 14 games last season. It’s not.a significant number, but given the relatively low price tag is would cost to bring him back to Minnesota, it’s worth exploring.
Allen, who originally reported Griffen’s desire to head back to the Vikings, claims it’s not as farfetched as we might think.
“He has people in his corner with the Minnesota Vikings, I feel comfortable in saying that,” Allen said. “And I would not rule out Everson Griffen joining the Vikings before the season, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”
From a pure football standpoint, signing Griffen makes sense for the Vikings defensive line. At the very worst, he’d be a solid rotational player. And Minnesota knows how to best employ his services.
Griffen owes Cousins — and others — a few apologies before any of that can happen, however.
As a pass-coverage specialist, Cox should definitely see reps in 2021.
How He Got Here: Cox had a rather unique collegiate career, starting at a lower-level before taking his game to one of the best programs in the country. But after three seasons of rather dominating the FCS level at North Dakoka State, earning All-American honors twice and helping his team win three national championships – all played in Frisco, Texas – Cox decided to transfer his senior season to LSU. With just one season in the SEC, Cox saw better competition, but the results were still the same. He finished third on the defense in tackles and established himself as one of the defensive standouts on a team that lost loads of talent from the 2019 national championship squad.
What’s Next: Cox has the build and speed of a strong safety but with tackling ability and instincts of a linebacker. When you look at the roster, Keanu Neal stands out as a player reminiscent of Cox and one that the young rookie can learn from this year. How the Cowboys incorporate Neal, a converted safety with the Falcons, into this defense as a linebacker, is probably something they can do for Cox, although it might be down the road. This year, Cox can certainly establish himself as a core special teams player and perhaps someone that can find himself playing in certain defensive packages. Don’t forget, Leighton Vander Esch is in a contract year and Jaylon Smith’s future with the Cowboys is not clear as well. So the Cowboys might look for extended opportunities to get Cox on the field this year to help them make some tough decisions next offseason.
DeMarcus Lawrence fails to make a Top-16 ranking for edge rushers in the NFL - Dave Halprin, BloggingTheBoys
Just more motivation for D-Law to use on the field.
They kicked it off today by ranking edge rushers. That designation allows them to include traditional 4-3 ends and 3-4 outside linebackers. They surveyed 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to come up with their rankings.
As the title to this article gives away, DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t make the list. One caveat to note is this list seems heavily slanted toward pass rushers, and having racked up sacks certainly seems to count for a lot.
That brings up the crux of the argument surrounding Lawrence. He does everything well and is as good an all-around 4-3 end as you will come across, except over the last two years he has come up short in the sacks department. Tank has 11.5 sacks over the last two seasons, that follows two years of double-digit sack totals.
Some of this depends on how much emphasis you put on sacks. Pro Football Focus gave Lawrence the eighth best pass-rush grade last year despite his low sack total. There have also been stats about Lawrence’s win-rate and ability to handle double-teams that speak to his worth as a defensive end, and as a pass rusher. PFF also ranked him as the seventh-best edge defender in 2020.
But in the ESPN survey, it certainly appears that the lack of sacks is hurting his reputation. And that’s not to be dismissed so easily. We have said that sacks are not the only way to measure an edge defender’s worth. On the other hand, sacks do represent something that’s a little more than just pressures or run-stopping ability. Few things ruin an offensive drive faster than a sack. There’s the loss of yardage, but many times they can lead to a fumble. They also work on a quarterback’s mind as he gets happy feet and starts rushing throws. Sacks do mean a lot and not getting them is a shortcoming for Tank.
There are always players under-the-gun at camp.
Bradlee Anae, DE
There is a serious question to be answered when it comes to second-year defensive end Bradlee Anae this summer. Is there even room for the former Utah pass rusher on the final roster?
This offseason, the Cowboys hired Dan Quinn to be their new defensive coordinator. Soon after Quinn went about the business of adding several players onto the roster to fit his scheme. And that includes several defenders who play Anae’s position.
Remember, Anae barely saw the field as a rookie last season. The 2020 fifth-round selection played just six defensive snaps in his first year. Anae also played 120 special team snaps.
Entering his second season in Dallas, the 22-year old Anae faces even more competition in newcomers like Tarell Basham, Brent Urban, Carlos Watkins, and rookie Chauncey Golston. And that’s in addition to veterans like Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Ron’Dell Carter, and Dorance Armstrong who Anae wasn’t able to pass on the depth chart last year.
Make no mistake, Anae is fighting for his spot on the roster this summer. Hitting the ground running later this month when training camp kicks off and steadily impressing Quinn seems to be a requirement for him at this point.
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