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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #49 John Stephens Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 49.

WR John Stephens Jr.
Born: 23rd September 1999 (23) - Logansport, Louisiana
College: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Draft: 2023, UDFA, Dallas Cowboys

2022 Stats: (College)
Total Snaps- 264
Targets- 29
Receptions- 14
Receiving Yards- 284
Yards Per Reception- 20.3
Touchdowns- 3
Drops- 3
First Downs- 14

John Stephens Jr. was a three-star recruit when he signed with TCU. He played in eight games off the bench during his freshman year and caught two passes for 58 yards. In 2019, Stephens got more snaps while playing in 12 games for the Horned Frogs. He caught 11 passes for 157 yards but failed to score a touchdown. At the end of the season Stephens transferred to Louisiana hoping to get more chances to start. He never started for the Ragin’ Cajuns but he did get more opportunities, and in the two seasons playing for Louisiana he took snaps in 20 games. He made 27 receptions for 451 yards and scored seven touchdowns in that time.

Cowboys Outlook:
Stephens is truly at the back of the pack on an already stacked wide receiver corps. If you watch his tape you’ll immediately notice him due to his size. One reason he was so limited is he plays more like a tight end than he does a wide receiver. He’s very explosive and has very good top end speed on the field when he gets there. Due to his speed and size it makes him an excellent target downfield on deep passes or in the redzone.

Why he’s likely to struggle to make the roster will be his route running, it’s as raw as you will ever see. He’s very deliberate and obvious in his motion making defenders able to get into position and make a play on the ball too easily. The added issue will be dropped passes, there are way too many on tape and some aren’t difficult catches.

As a blocker he needs to improve technique and hand usage. As he gets closer to the line of scrimmage his blocking becomes less effective. Stephens has a chance to make the practice squad, it’s not an issue of athletic ability. His problem is making receptions with consistency and route proficiency. If he does make the practice squad expect him to be a reserve for special team duties when required.

The Big Question:
Does John Stephens Jr. make the practice squad? Answer in the comments.

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