Once the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL make roster cuts to get under the league mandated 53-man limit by Tuesday afternoon, we can officially close the book on the 2023 NFL offseason. But before we set our sights on the season opener against the New York Giants, we thought it would be fun to take a look back and hand out a few awards to certain players.
Since the Cowboys chose not to play many of their starters in preseason, the majority of these offseason awards will go to those who actually suited up and played so far. That means many of these awards will be handed out to players who will likely take on backup roles this year, both drafted and undrafted alike.
Offensive MVP (preseason)
Rico Dowdle went from being an unlikely candidate to make it through roster cuts to locking down the backup running back job behind Tony Pollard this offseason. Finally healthy, No. 23 showed exactly why the Cowboys have remained patient with him throughout the multitude of injuries he sustained the past few years. His explosiveness and hard-nosed running style was on full display every time he touched the ball, helping him to leapfrog the competition to be the unquestioned RB2 this season.
Defensive MVP (preseason)
Juanyeh Thomas, and undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech last year, has shined throughout the offseason in both training camp and preseason. Whether it's been making plays in coverage or in the box on the line of scrimmage, the second-year safety has been actively making plays all over the field. Sadly though, even that may not be enough for him to be considered a lock to make the 53-man roster. Despite his impressive play, the depth at safety this year may work against him when final decisions are made.
Best offseason addition
Brandin Cooks narrowly edges out Stephon Gilmore here as the Cowboys best roster addition this offseason. While Gilmore no doubt improves Dallas' secondary opposite Trevon Diggs, what Cooks is capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball should have everyone excited. Six of his nine seasons in the NFL he's gone for 1, 000 yards receiving with four different teams and is capable of doing the same this season in Dallas. He's a Tyreek Hill type of weapon who should make the offense even more dangerous in 2023.
Most improved player
Jalen Tolbert's rookie season had many people believing he was already a draft bust, but through hard work and determination he's gone from bubble guy this offseason to bona fide WR4 behind CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Gallup this year. He's been a favorite target for both Cooper Rush and Will Grier throughout preseason and has been arguably the most consistent threat in the passing game as well.
Jaws dropped around Cowboys Nation upon hearing that Dallas facilitated a trade to bring the San Francisco 49ers No. 3 overall pick in 2021 to Dallas to complete their QB room. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Cooper Rush would once again be the QB2 behind Dak Prescott in 2023, with maybe Will Grier hanging on as a reserve option. No one really saw them trading for Trey Lance, unless it was predicted in a jokingly manner.
DeMarvion Overshown's injury unfortunately will go down as the Dallas Cowboys most disappointing thing to happen to them this offseason. The rookie LB out of the University of Texas was well on his way to being a significant contributor this year before his season-ending knee injury. He was tailor-made to play in Dan Quinn’s defense and was emerging as a much-needed depth piece behind Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark. Sadly, 2023 will end up being a redshirt season for him.
Best draft pick
No offense to DeMarvion Overshown or Deuce Vaughn, but Asim Richards - Dallas' fifth-round pick (169th overall) this year - has been the Cowboys best draft pick throughout the offseason. His consistency down after down and position flex to play both left guard and tackle should not only earn him a roster spot this year, but also earn him the opportunity to be the game day swing OL this season. His play has been one of the few bright spots from Dallas’ backup offensive lineman this offseason.
Best undrafted free agent
Despite a few flash plays from some of the undrafted WRs or Hunter Luepke exploding on the scene in the preseason finale against the Raiders (13 touches, 97 total yards, 1 TD), Isaiah Land has been the most consistent/disruptive UFDA for the Cowboys this offseason. He's continually harassed opposing QBs and offensive lineman throughout the preseason, consistently applying pressure and causing multiple penalty flags for false starts. But even with his impressive play, he still may not be a roster lock when final cuts are made.