Just do it already.
It shouldn’t take long for Anthony Barr to find a home, especially since his skillset meshes so well with the Dallas Cowboys’ needs this offseason.
Barr has made four Pro Bowls while racking up nearly 500 tackles, 31 passes defended, 17.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and five interceptions across eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, he’s missed 20 games over the past two seasons, suffering a torn pectoral in 2020 and dealing with knee issues this past season.
When healthy, the 6’5”, 257-pound playmaker can line up and make an impact at several positions. The Cowboys would have the option to deploy him as an extra pass-rusher on the edge or in a more traditional linebacker role.
That versatility could come in handy for a Dallas squad that may need flexibility. The team has a handful of injury-prone defenders on the roster and is already missing several talents in the linebacking corps.
Leighton Vander Esch has a long history of ailments, Jabril Cox is coming off a torn ACL that limited him to just seven games as a rookie, Devante Bond will be out for 2022 after suffering a knee injury at OTAs and Damone Clark could miss a significant chunk of his rookie campaign as he works his way back from a neck issue.
The Cowboys are counting on some players to up their game after year one.
Rob Phillips: In the “besides Micah Parsons” category, I’ll go with Osa Odighizuwa. He did a terrific job filling in for Neville Gallimore for the better part of 2021 and finished his rookie season with 12 pressures (good for fifth on the team) along with 34 tackles (four for loss) and two sacks. He’s got a nice balance of power, quickness and technique as an inside player. The Cowboys are excited about his potential, and his approach is a big reason why. He might emerge as one of the best Day 2 draft picks the team has had over the past several years.
Mickey Spagnola: Let’s go with last year’s fourth round pick Jabril Cox. The LSU linebacker didn’t get much of a chance in 2021, getting off to a slow start. And just when it seemed he was earning a chance for snaps Cox suffered a season-ending torn ACL. He should be ready to go early in training camp, and there is opportunity for him on special teams for sure, and as a nickel linebacker. With the Cowboys deciding not to re-sign Keanu Neal, his spot on the standard nickel defense is wide open, so look for the multi-talented Cox to take advantage of the opportunity in his second season.
Cowboys’ Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs named to best NFL team money can buy - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Cowboys have a couple of young studs on the roster.
If it seems that in recent years, the NFL has been injected with a strong infusion of young talent, that would be correct. It wasn’t too long ago there was a lot of concern from the media, and likely from the league office, about who would take over for the aging superstars of the league. Whether it be an actual shift to players being better sooner, or just improved marketing, the league has plenty of you players seemingly born for the spotlight and destined for greatness.
Among those are Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons and CB Trevon Diggs. Once maligned as a questionable use of high draft resources (yes, that was me) because he was an off-ball linebacker without much film showing pass coverage or pass rush, he has quickly ascended to All-Pro status. He was one of the best linebackers in the league in 2021, and one of the best pass rushers, finishing as a defensive player of the year finalist. Meanwhile Diggs started to show his worth towards the end of his rookie season in 2020 then took flight in 2021 with a team-record 11 interceptions. So when NFL.com’s Anthony Holzman-Escareno went about building the best roster under the 2022 salary cap, it was no surprise Parsons, Diggs and their rookie deals were part of the final result.
An UDFA that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention will try to break into the Cowboys roster.
How He Got Here: The Cowboys signed Bryant in May as a rookie free agent after the draft. Bryant (6-4, 254) had a productive college career in two spots: first a four-year stay at Auburn, where he was a captain and second-team All-SEC selection in 2020, then at Central Florida, where he transferred for his extra season of eligibility as a graduate senior. Bryant made first-team All-AAC with the Knights after posting six sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 2021. Clearly, it was a smooth transition to a new program with UCF head coach Gus Malzahn, who also made the move from Auburn.
What’s Next: Defensive line arguably has the most competition of any position on the Cowboys’ roster. At edge rusher specifically, the club will replace free agent departure Randy Gregory with a talented group of young and veteran players alongside veteran leader DeMarcus Lawrence: free agent signing Dante Fowler Jr., Dorance Armstrong, Tarell Basham, 2021 third-round draft pick Chauncey Golston and 2022 second-round pick Sam Williams. It looks like an uphill climb for Bryant, but he played well in the nation’s best conference and has a skill set that can translate to the NFL, even if it doesn’t lead to a roster spot right away.
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