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The Cowboys losing a potential high-upside prospect is just the lay of the Land

One of our favorite UDFA’s won’t be returning on the practice squad.

NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Jaguars at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every year it happens. The Dallas Cowboys make some tough roster cuts and we all wait nervously to see if our favorite prospects make it cleanly through waivers. Most do, but every once in a while, a team will scoop up that one guy we were hoping made it to the practice squad. This year, that player is edge rusher Isaiah Land.

An undrafted free agent from Florida A&M, Land dealt with injuries his final year in college, but had a remarkable season in 2021 when he finished with 19 sacks, 25.5 tackles for a loss, and three fumble recoveries. While there is a lot to be uncovered with him, he still flashed enough to draw interest from the Cowboys. Throughout the summer, the young edge rusher had impressed and it looked like the team had found another diamond in the rough.

Land was fantastic during the preseason. In three games, he finished with 10 total pressures, which was the second-most of any player on any NFL team this preseason. He also finished with seven hurries on 45 pass-rushing snaps. He only recorded one official sack but finished with a pass rush win rate of 20%. Not only that, he had opposing tackles so worried about his get-off that they were regularly jumping early. There were several instances when tackles would get called for a false start.

His explosive first step made things a problem out of the gate, but his length and bend allowed him to stay disruptive. Even though he’s still raw, he already possesses good pass-rushing skills to build from. At just 236 pounds, he needs to bulk up to be able to handle regular battles in the trenches, but he would’ve made a great development project for the Cowboys.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be as the Indianapolis Colts have signed him to their active roster.

Obviously, knowing what we know now, it’s easy to second-guess the Cowboys decision not to protect him. The Cowboys are stacked along the defensive line, keeping a total of 11 players. With such great talent along the edge, it would’ve been nearly impossible for Land to see any action this season. He would have been a pure stash-and-develop guy.

But maybe that wouldn’t have been such a bad idea. When you look at this Cowboys defense and some of the veteran edge rushers on the roster, there are a few who have expiring contracts coming soon. Both Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler will be free agents after this season and DeMarcus Lawrence the year after that. Having a young up-and-coming edge rusher on ice would actually fit nicely with that timeline.

Sadly, those plans are no more as the Land of opportunity will be far greater in Indy. And while it’s easy to feel down about “the one that got away,” that’s a normal reaction. It stings a little now, but in all likelihood, that FOMO feeling will subside. Todd Archer explains why.

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