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3 former undrafted players making a difference in Year 2 with Cowboys

Players proving you don't have to be drafted to make it in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We are just one week into the 2023 NFL season, but already it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys have a few former undrafted free agents from last year who are ready to step up and take on larger roles with the team. in just their second year with the organization.

KaVontae Turpin, Markquese Bell, and Juanyeh Thomas all made an immediate impact Sunday night against the New York Giants. More playing time could be coming their way as the season progresses.

There, of course, still remains a little bit of unknown as to how each one of these players will be utilized moving forward, but one thing is for sure, it’ll be hard to keep them off the field.

#9 WR KaVontae Turpin

KaVontae Turpin is a testament to never giving up on your dreams. After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft out of TCU, he had stops in the European Football League and eventually the USFL, where he was voted the league MVP in 2022. From there, the Dallas Cowboys signed him to a three-year contract paving the way to his first Pro Bowl season last year as a 27-year-old rookie.

Technically still an undrafted free agent addition, he's already made quite a name for himself as a return man in the league but was hoping to make more of an impact on the offensive side of the ball in Year 2 with the Cowboys. If the season opener was any indication, the new look offense under Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer will try to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways like they did against the Giants.

#14 S/LB Markquese Bell

The Dallas Cowboys signed Markquese Bell as an undrafted free agent out of Florida A&M after the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft. He ended up making the initial 53-man roster last year as a rookie, but played only 22 snaps (1.92%) on defense last year and 80 (16.77%) on special teams. Things are looking up for him in 2023 though, especially after the way he performed in Week 1 against the New York Giants.

DeMarvion Overshown’s season-ending knee injury caused Dan Quinn to call upon his second-year safety to play a different defensive role than the team had initially planned for him. Despite playing safety nearly the entire offseason, Markquese Bell was now tasked to play a hybrid S/LB role due to the lack of depth in the season opener against the Giants with very little practice time at the position. Believe it or not, but he looked like a natural.

#30 S Juanyeh Thomas

Juanyeh Thomas looks to be another undrafted gem the Dallas Cowboys signed last year after the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft. Unlike the others we previously mentioned, he didn't suit up for the Cowboys at all last season, instead spent the entire year on the practice squad. He's arguably made the biggest jump of the three though and has been one of the stars in both training camp and preseason alike.

Thomas' role moving forward with the Cowboys is a little more murky than the others as well. He was an injury fill-in for Donovan Wilson against the Giants in Week 1, so once Wilson returns to the starting lineup Thomas may be relegated to backup duty once again on defense despite playing really well. His special teams role will remain the same of course, where he looks like a difference maker after blocking a field goal last week.

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