We are just getting to the mandatory minicamp for the Dallas Cowboys. For many, that is a bit sad, because it means we are about to face the long drought of developments before training camp starts. But we’re going glass half-full, because it means that so much is still possible. Every hope is still alive, so here is a Cowboys wish list.
Let the little guys thrive
Before the draft, All-Pro returner KaVontae Turpin was the smallest player on the roster. Now that distinction belongs to rookie Deuce Vaughn. Both should have significant roles in the offense this year. The real dream is to see Brian Schottenheimer and Mike McCarthy cook up a package with both on the field, as receivers. Small guys can get lost in all the bigger bodies and confound defenses.
Even if they don’t come up with something like that, which would have to be labeled the smol package, Dallas needs both of these players to contribute. Turpin should at least get some consideration for the WR4 job. The top three are set, but you have to have depth to make it through the grueling 17-game season. Turpin will make the roster as the punt returner, so the team should get all they can out of him in the offense as well.
Vaughn is the new change-of-pace back. There are perhaps legitimate questions about his talents translating to the NFL, but I think they will. And that could be very exciting. His elusiveness is not something that can be easily taught, and hopefully McCarthy can use that effectively.
Use the fullback
It’s a dying position in the NFL, but the Cowboys likely didn’t sign UDFA Hunter Luepke to fill the traditional fullback role. They are probably eyeing him as the short yardage specialist as well as a lead blocker, and his skill set seems to make it possible for him to play as a traditional running back as well. He has the best shot of any undrafted player to make the roster, and while he may be used sparingly, he could be very effective when he is deployed.
Well, let’s go
Forgive me, for I have punned. OT Matt Waletzko was injured in camp last year, and was only active for three games. The staff seems high on him to emerge as the new swing tackle this year, allowing Tyler Smith to stay at LG all season to maintain continuity. The real pipe dream is for him to become Tyron Smith’s replacement going forward. The staff has also been experimenting with him as LG in OTAs. We know they love them some position flexibility. It’s a lot to hope for, but hey, that’s what this whole article is about. The offensive line remains a complex puzzle for the Cowboys, and it would be excellent for one solution to already be on the roster.
Mazi Smith being drafted for a different reason
It took a bit to come around on Dallas’ first-round pick, because it has been so long since they invested anything in a big-body run stopper. That is badly needed, but the hope is they took him as much, or even more, to use him to push the pocket when the opponent is passing. With mobile quarterbacks proliferating in the NFL, that might seem a potentially problematic thing to do, since that seems to play to the strengths of some (cough) Jalen Hurts (cough) by letting them use their legs. But the Cowboys have a bunch of fast, agile pass rushers, led by Micah Parsons, that should allow them to neutralize that if the pocket is falling apart. While Smith certainly should make it very difficult to run the ball up the middle, him becoming a real headache when he is driving linemen into the quarterback’s lap is the wish.
Could we have another Jayron Kearse?
Dan Quinn has been very successful using Kearse in a hybrid safety/linebacker role. They may try to duplicate that with DeMarvion Overshown, their third-round pick this year. Kearse is 29, and this might be a selection with an eye to the future. Overshown’s skillset seems suitable for this kind of usage, and there is no one better able to exploit that than Quinn. It is a high expectation for the rookie, but this is the time of year when all futures are possible.
A surprise standout
Most years, someone winds up being a lot better than we expected. Last year, it was CB DaRon Bland that no one really saw coming. Forced onto the field due to injuries, he responded with a team leading five interceptions. While that kind of performance will be highly unlikely, the player that will surprise most of us, at least through training camp, is another corner, rookie Eric Scott. Dallas traded a future pick to take Scott with the first pick of the sixth round. They clearly saw something in him and wanted to get him before someone else could. I hope we are going to find out just what that is, and he is going to become a key depth piece for the secondary.
What kind of Cowboys’ wish list do you have at this time of the year? Let us know in the comments.