We have officially entered the lull of the Dallas Cowboys offseason. Until training camp kicks off on July 25th in Oxnard, California, we have little new to discuss as it pertains to America’s Team. Hopefully this downtime remains just that. If there is any breaking news, odds are that it will be of the negative kind.
Since we have this downtime, we thought we’d try our hand at some bold predictions for the Cowboys prior to the start of training camp this year. While some of them are probably considered mild in nature as far as bold predictions go, others could verge on being on the edge of outlandish.
Trysten Hill finally proves his doubters wrong
Unfortunately, immaturity issues landed Trysten Hill in the doghouse with the Cowboys coaching staff as a rookie and a season-ending injury in his sophomore season that lingered into Year 3 further stunted his development. Now healthy, and with a full offseason to prepare, Dallas’ former 2019 second-round pick has no excuses not to play at a high level entering a contract year for him.
With his immaturity and health issues hopefully now behind him, No. 72 has a chance to finally prove his doubters wrong, and that’s exactly what we are predicting. That’s right, Hill is primed to have a breakout season in 2022. All of the traits (size, strength, agility) that made him a second-round pick should be on full display throughout training camp practices and in preseason games.
Tony Pollard shines in versatile RB/WR role
Tony Pollard may or may not be the next Deebo Samuel, but the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to finally use him in a similar type of running back/wide receiver role in 2022. Already in minicamp and OTA practices he’s been spotted split out as a WR in the slot more often, which hints to him being involved more offensively. But, how much and how often remains to be seen.
After putting up a total of 1,056 total yards as a runner and receiver last season, the expected increase in touches should make No. 20’s production skyrocket in 2022. Don’t be at all surprised to see him performing as one of the best playmakers the Cowboys have in training camp and preseason games. We all know what he’s capable of doing, so maybe predicting him shining in a versatile RB/WR role isn’t much of a bold prediction after all.
Sam Williams challenges for starting job at RDE
With Randy Gregory gone, taking his talents to the Denver Broncos via free agency, the right defensive end spot opposite DeMarcus Lawrence is up for grabs heading into 2022. Dorance Armstrong more than likely has the inside track to earn the starting job considering his experience and knowledge of the system, but we can’t rule out other players like Dante Fowler, Tarell Basham, Chauncey Golston, or Sam Williams.
Who emerges as the favorite at RDE is a position battle to watch in training camp. While previous experience favors some of the other DEs who are probably ahead of him on the depth chart, Sam Williams’ speed and athleticism is sure to catch the coaching staffs attention. It’s probably much more likely he will be utilized as a pass rush specialist as a rookie, but don’t rule him out pushing for the starting job coming out of training camp.
Tyler Smith proves to be an upgrade at LG
One of the biggest mysteries heading into training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is how this year’s first-round draft pick Tyler Smith will perform as Connor Williams replacement at left guard. After strictly playing left tackle in college at Tulsa, Smith is now being asked to kick inside to LG to hopefully help solidify the Cowboys offensive line in 2022. How he ends up playing as a rookie could have a huge impact on the team’s success or failure this season.
According to reports coming out of minicamp and OTAs, No. 73 has already impressed the coaching staff and his teammates with his play and demeanor. His strength and athleticism has been mentioned as reasons why he should have a successful rookie campaign, but until the pads come on, and practices start to get more physical, it remains to be seen if that’s true or not. When that does happen, we are predicting he proves to be an upgrade at LG.
Leighton Vander Esch looks like his former Pro Bowl self
In 2018, Leighton Vander Esch’s rookie season, he looked like the next superstar linebacker. He accumulated a franchise rookie-record 140 total tackles (102 solo), seven pass deflections, and two interceptions in 16 games with 11 starts. That production earned him his first, and so far, only Pro Bowl nomination. Since then, injuries and other issues have prevented him from producing those kind of numbers.
Despite nearly a four-year hiatus, things are shaping up nicely for LVE to return to his former Pro Bowl self in 2022 after signing a one-year deal to return to the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did his play continue to improve down the stretch last season under the guidance of Dan Quinn, but he’ll be leaned on heavily this season due to the current lack of depth at LB. Plus, playing next to a superstar like Micah Parsons should boost the level of his play as well.