clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 undrafted Cowboys players with the most to prove against the Raiders

There are plenty of players still fighting for a Cowboys roster spot, but these 3 UDFAs need a big performance versus the Raiders.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys square off against the Las Vegas Raiders this Saturday, it marks their final preseason game of the 2023 season. None of the Cowboys’ premier players are expected to take the field on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. That said, this game has plenty of significance as several players still have a lot riding on Saturday’s matchup. The reserve players for the Cowboys will see extended action as they compete for backup jobs. Also, several undrafted players hope to make a last-minute surge to make the roster. Here are three undrafted with plenty to prove against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Hunter Leupke

Despite being undrafted, Leupke has diverse skills but has yet to cement himself in one defined role this summer since joining the team. The Cowboys need a power back, and Leupke needs to showcase that he is dependable in that capacity. If not, the team needs to see if he can be a consistent lead blocker, much like he was at North Dakota State.

The Cowboys once appeared to have had a surplus at running back, but that may no longer be the case, and the numbers crunch at the position could help Leupke’s odds of making the roster. First, Ronald Jones will serve a two-game suspension to start the season. Plus, summer sensation Deuce Vaughn is making the team with how he has performed in training camp and preseason.

Where there’s a path to the roster for Leupke is the competition between Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis. There likely isn’t a scenario where both players are making the team, and Dowdle appears to have taken the lead in the spot to serve as Tony Pollard’s primary backup. Head coach Mike McCarthy has an affinity for west coast fullbacks, and Leupke is playing for a role that is demanding to be filled. Leupke has to be prepared to seize the opportunity against the Raiders.

Brandon Aubrey

Undrafted kicker and two-time USFL champion Brandon Aubrey has earned much confidence from within the Cowboys’ organization. Since the team released Tristan Vizcaino, Aubrey has handled all the kicking duties in practice and during the preseason. Against the Seahawks, Aubrey made both of his extra-point tries, and showed enough leg on his kickoffs with three touchbacks on the night.

With each passing week, he has made progress. Still, he must prove he can kick the ball accurately from a distance. He has yet to attempt a field goal try beyond 30 yards thus far, and how he handles longer field goal tries in games is still a mystery.

Aubrey has practically won the job as far as the team is concerned, but he’s still not in a position where he can’t lose it. He can ill-afford a shaky performance against the Raiders and needs to silence the critics who aren’t entirely sold on his trustworthiness. Aubrey needs to keep his play consistent to kick all doubts to the curb.

Isaiah Land

Saturday’s game against the Raiders is Land’s closing argument to make a case for the 53-man roster. Land, who had a reputation as a sack artist at Florida A&M and racked up 19 sacks in 2019, has demonstrated pass rush prowess this preseason. Land will surely get plenty of snaps rushing off the edge against Las Vegas, but he could contribute in another way.

The Cowboys recently suffered a devastating loss to their linebacker corps when DeMarvion Overshown sustained a torn ACL against the Seattle Seahawks. At 6’4”, 236 lbs., Land is already an in-between-sized player at linebacker and defensive end. Land could see some snaps at linebacker this week.

What ignites a difficult conversation when the Cowboys staff decides on final cuts is if Land can make a few impact plays at linebacker in addition to his pass rush capabilities. The team has established veteran edge rushers such as Dante Fowler Jr., but could Land flash enough upside that it makes a player like Fowler expendable? That is to be determined, but a terrific performance from Land could make that difficult conversation amongst the coaches a reality come final cuts.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys