The Dallas Cowboys will open training camp in Oxnard, CA, in a few weeks. Since their season ended in San Francisco last January, the Cowboys have done an excellent job of retaining talent from last season while plugging holes on the roster. After a solid group of selections during the NFL Draft, including defensive tackle Mazi Smith and DeMarvion Overshown, the team bolstered an already dominant defense.
The team also picked up excellent value following the draft with a solid crop of undrafted free agents on the offensive side of the football. Over the years, the Cowboys have had an excellent track record in finding undrafted offensive talent following the draft. Notable examples would include wide receiver Miles Austin, offensive lineman Ron Leary, and former franchise quarterback Tony Romo. The trend of unearthing gems continues this season with three undrafted free agents who will make the team this summer.
Hunter Leupke finding a place on the roster shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Leupke’s versatility and ability means he finds a way on the roster. As a prospect, Leupke has drawn comparisons to 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk in how he can run the football, be a lead blocker, and catch passes out of the backfield. Over his collegiate career at North Dakota State, Leupe totaled over 1,000 yards rushing and nearly 500 yards receiving for the Bison.
Where Leupke fits into the roster is the absence of a power running back. Leupke has demonstrated he can be a strong downhill runner in short yardage, and currently, the Cowboys need someone of that ilk on the team. Additionally, head coach Mike McCarthy has taken over play-calling duties and has always had an affinity for utilizing the fullback in his offense. The Cowboys new offense, labeled the “Texas Coast,” is sure to use the short passing game to backs out of the backfield. Leupke’s diverse talents have a place on the team.
A few years ago, the team mined a hidden treasure after picking up Terence Steele as an undrafted signing in 2020. Look for Earl Bostick to find a similar path to the NFL. Bostick comes to Dallas boasting excellent athleticism for his size as an offensive tackle. Bostick is a converted tight end with nimble feet and good balance. The former Big 12 All-American plays himself on the roster finding a spot behind Matt Waletzko, who is playing both right tackle and left guard.
If Dallas plans to have Waletzko serve such a significant purpose as a swing tackle and left guard, it means two things:
- Waletzko’s aptitude for playing in multiple spots potentially saves the team a roster spot.
- Considering the health of Tyron Smith, the team has an urgent need to secure not one, but two, swing tackles. Bostick heads to camp competing directly with Josh Ball, who struggled mightily last season.
- The Cowboys gave Bostick a guaranteed bonus of $200,000 to ensure he has a place on the team.
David Durden is a Division II prospect out of West Florida with an intriguing background. Once in the Boston Red Sox farm system, Durden returned to the gridiron and had a productive final campaign for the Argonauts. After recording over 1,100 and 13 touchdowns in 2022, Durden turned heads among a few draft analysts and was made the focus of the Athletic’s Prospect X. The well-traveled Durden will be sure to make a few plays at training camp and in the preseason.
At 6’2” and 220 lbs., Durden has a terrific size and speed ratio, having run a 4.4 forty-yard dash in the lead-up to the draft. Durden enters training camp with a reputation as a tireless worker and has ball skills that are sure to grab the coaching staff’s attention. Durden also carries value as a special teams contributor. He averaged 17.7 yards per punt return last season and returned one for a score. Durden will contend primarily with Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, and fellow undrafted receivers Jalen Moreno-Cropper and Jose Barbon to make the team. Durden has an uphill battle, but it is not unsurmountable.