Right now the focus of the NFL is on the combine going on in Indianapolis. As it does so well, the league has turned what started as a way to get standardized measurements and for teams to meet and watch draft prospects into a media event. The Dallas Cowboys have a lot to look for with a large number of players from last season entering free agency.
But free agency is still a couple of weeks away and the draft almost two months. We won’t know what the team has to work with from the outside for a while. What we do know is who the team has on the roster now. We already have a good idea of who are locks to make the 53-man squad for the regular season, but some currently in the building will be fighting just to stick, or in a couple of cases, to play a much bigger role. Here are some that could be very interesting to watch the next few months.
WR/KR KaVontae Turpin
He is the most secure of this list for his return skills. But he is already conducting a bit of a social media campaign to be used more in the wide receiver role rather than just as a return man.
The team did not use that aspect of his game much during his rookie season. He would see perhaps a handful of plays on offense, and when he was used, it was primarily for jet sweeps. That negated his effectiveness since defenses seemed to watch for that when he was on the field. He is not seen as a great receiving option because of his size. DallasCowboys.com has him listed at 5-9 and 153 pounds, and some say those may be a bit generous. The team has a pretty well established bias toward taller receivers.
What Turpin does bring to the table is speed and vision. With the Cowboys once again needing to find more weapons for Dak Prescott outside of CeeDee Lamb and a hopefully more healthy Michael Gallup, he should be given a shot to work as a deep threat to take the top off the coverage and possibly as a player who can get kind of lost by the coverage in the underneath areas. This year may provide more of an opportunity for that with the changes to the offensive staff. It will depend on how Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer run the offense, but we don’t know how they view Turpin’s potential. However, if Dallas does not make a significant WR signing in free agency and can’t find a good prospect out of a somewhat subpar draft class, they may have to be more open-minded about the possibilities.
WR Semi Fehoko
At 6-3 and 220, Fehoko is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Turpin. What is interesting about him is that he is entering his third year in the league, and that is often the year it comes together for wide receivers. It doesn’t hurt his case at all to have been working with Prescott for two years. The competition for WR3/4/5 could be wide open. Fehoko is a former fifth-round pick, and historically the team has been very reluctant to give up on players like that.
WR Dontario Drummond
He is a real dark horse, but flashed some during offseason and training camp work last year. At six foot, he’s not as tall as Fehoko, but is listed at the same weight, which might make him a candidate for slot work. That size could make him more durable there.
We discussed this list on the latest episode of Ryled Up on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
RB Malik Davis
He is very likely to make the roster after serving as the RB3 all season due to Rico Dowdle’s injury. What is going to be interesting is where he winds up on the depth chart this year. With Ezekiel Elliott now a feasible release in a year where the team really needs to find cap space and Tony Pollard possibly requiring a tag to keep him, it is not inconceivable that Davis is contending for RB1 if the team should move on from both the top two backs from last season. He could also take over Elliott’s role if they keep Pollard but want someone to share the load. Frankly, it is hard to make a logical argument to keep Elliott due to cap considerations and his limited contributions last season. But the ownership doesn’t always rely on logic, so Davis could be relegated to RB3 again. Also, some are expecting the Cowboys to spend some early round draft capital on the position, which is an approach that is not wise. That is the biggest threat to Davis’ role on the team. We may find out just how much control McCarthy has over his roster this year.
C/G Matt Farniok
Connor McGovern is a free agent. Should the team decide to not re-sign him, left guard is a big hole. While they may elect to pursue someone in the draft, unless they spend a first- or second-round pick on a guard prospect (or possibly a tackle they can convert) they may have to look to Farniok to take the role, at least to start the season. In any case, he is valuable depth at a position where they have little at the moment. He also is a backup at center.
C Alec Lindstrom
Speaking of depth, the team needs a quality backup for Tyler Biadasz should Farniok wind up as their left guard Relying on Farniok to be the backup center means they would have to shuffle the line if Biadasz misses any time. That is not a great plan, and even if they find a different solution for guard, they need more depth than just Farniok for the interior. Backup center looks to be Lindstrom’s best bet to stay with the team.
OT Isaac Alarcon
Alarcon came to the team through the International Player Pathway Program in 2020. The product of Mexico has been on the practice squad for three years and was signed to a futures contract again this year. While he has not broken through, the team just keeps him around. He’s a big man at 6-7, 320, and physically seems most suited at tackle, although reports are that the team has also worked him at guard.
It appears that the team sees something intriguing in him. And at this point they face a need for an answer at swing tackle. Tyron Smith may become that, but he represents a big cap savings if he is released or retires. Both are real possibilities given his injury history. There is also the question of whether Terence Steele will be ready to start the season coming off his torn ACL. We hope he will be good to go, but nothing is assured. If he isn’t, then Smith may be the starter at right tackle to start the season. Jason Peters is another option, but he is a free agent and may not be willing to subject himself to another year of punishment given his own injury problems last year.
The team may be taking a real look at Alarcon for swing tackle given all the uncertainties. It would be nice to see him get a real helping of cake. He has become a fan favorite and it would be fun to see him make the team.