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Has The 2017 Season Exposed The Cowboys “True Needs”?

Brian Martin

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Has Sean Lee Become A Liability For Cowboys?

The 2017 NFL season has certainly been full of ups and downs for the Dallas Cowboys. Injuries and suspensions have been at the forefront of the Cowboys problems this season, but despite that they still have a chance to make it into the postseason. It's strange isn't it?

Cowboys Nation has been taken on a roller coaster ride in 2017, and strangely enough the ride isn't quite over yet. There are still two regular-season games left on the schedule this year and a possible playofff berth. But despite everything that has already happened, the off-season evaluation process should be much easier.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys and the coaching staff should have a better understanding of their "true needs" because of everything that's happened throughout the 2017 season. They have had to deal with multiple suspensions and injuries, which has caused them to dive deeper into their depth chart than they probably would have liked. Fortunately though, this could end up being a blessing in disguise.

The roster depth on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball has been exposed this season in particular probably more than any in years past. The Dallas Cowboys have had to depend on their backups more than usual, which has really exposed their off-season needs. Let's dive into this a little deeper and try to determine some of the Cowboys off-season needs.

Offensive Needs

Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver

The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers have been a huge disappointment this season and I think it's time to insert some new blood. Opposing defenses have found ways to pretty much take Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley out of the game and unfortunately nobody else has really stepped up. This became an even bigger problem without Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if the Cowboys decided to draft a wide receiver early. Dez Bryant isn't getting any younger and it might be time to find his eventual replacement. Dak Prescott needs more help from his WRs in the passing game, and a young new weapon might help improve the team more than any other position.

Offensive Guard

Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is pretty much set in stone, but the left guard position is still up in the air. Jonathan Cooper finally won the starting job in 2017, but he is a free agent after the season. The Cowboys could choose to re-sign him once again, but finding a long-term solution would probably serve them better.

Zack Martin will without a doubt receive a contract extension after the season, which means the Cowboys already have a lot invested in their offensive line. This probably means they won't draft an OG early, but you never know how things will play out. But regardless, the LG position could stand to be upgraded.

Offensive Tackle

Tyron Smith and La'el Collins should be the starting tackles for the Dallas Cowboys for years to come, but both players have dealt with back problems in 2017. Smith has even had to miss a few games because of injuries, which exposed the Dallas Cowboys lack of depth at the position.

Not a single Cowboys fan wants to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell on the roster next season. Both players have been exposed as an extreme liability, which means this is definitely an area in need of upgrading in the off-season. Again, like OG, I doubt they draft a player early with so much already invested in the OL, but never say never.

Running Back

Honestly, having Ezekiel Elliott available for an entire season makes the running back position less of a concern, but one slip-up could put that availability in jeopardy. With Alfred Morris set to become a free agent after the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys could use another young RB capable of becoming Elliott's backup.

We can argue that Rod Smith might be able to handle that role, but we really haven't seen him be the primary back in 2017. There are still questions how he would be able to hold up, which means finding an upgrade might be more of an off-season need than we think.

Defensive Needs

Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Jaylon Smith

Linebacker

The linebacker position might just be the Dallas Cowboys biggest off-season need. Sean Lee has proven time and time again that he is incapable of staying healthy and Anthony Hitchens is set to become a free agent after the season. There are also still questions about whether or not Jaylon Smith is capable of becoming a starting caliber LB.

The Cowboys are without a doubt in need of depth at the position, but they need to start to prepare themselves for life without Sean Lee in the lineup. Unfortunately, we have all witnessed how production dips without him in the lineup and it's probably time to find his replacement.

Defensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys don't really value the defensive tackle position very much, but that kind of came back to haunt them this season. Right now, they are depending on players they have called up from the practice squad and the lack of talent there is really hurting them.

They could really use a big bodied/space eating 1-technique, someone who would command double teams and clog up the middle. They haven't really had that type of player in some time now, and it might be past time to address the position.

Defensive End

The Dallas Cowboys defensive end position is a huge question mark after the 2017 season. I don't think they will let DeMarcus Lawrence getaway, but I'm not sure they can afford to sign him to a long-term contract. He will likely receive the franchise tag, but the depth behind him is concerning as well.

Taco Charlton has continued to improve throughout the season, but he still relatively unknown. The Cowboys will have Charles Tapper and Randy Gregory returning next year, but they are still young unproven players, much like Charlton. Pass rushers are hard to come by, so drafting one early might be a top priority.

Safety

The Dallas Cowboys pretty much had a complete makeover in their secondary this season and for the most part it has paid off. But, they probably took a step back at the safety position. Byron Jones has seen his playing time recently decreased and he might be better as a CB from here on out. Jeff Heath on the other hand has continued to make plays, but is probably still best as a reserve player.

Finding a difference making safety is just about as hard to do as finding a dominant pass rusher. They are a rarity in the NFL and typically drafted early. That is what the Cowboys will likely have to do if they want to upgrade the safety position, but it has become a need based on the way their players have performed this season.

Which positions do you think have been exposed in 2017?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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4 Comments
  • Kevin Black

    It’s a shame about the weak side DE still being an issue. They could have addressed that in the last draft with T.J. Watt.

    Dallas already has a potential replacement for Bryant in Noah Brown. He’s raw, but he definitely has the ability. It will take about 1-2 more seasons, but he could definitely replace Bryant. Still, if an amazing player is on the board and he’s a WR, I’d still want Dallas to take him.

    What’s odd about the LB situation is our weak side that Lee plays. We don’t have a potential replacement on the roster for him and it’s time we start looking. Wilson was talked about as a weak side LB, but he’s been moved to the strong side and doesn’t appear to be in the coach’s confidence enough to try him on the weak side any more. If Hitchens signs elsewhere because another team offers him stupid money, a backup MLB will need to be addressed, but Jaylon Smith will be your starter next year most likely. One more thing in Hitchens camp is he can play some weak side linebacker, but he doesn’t have the speed you’d prefer at the position.

    I’m fairly sure that Cooper will stay in Dallas, but he could bolt if the money elsewhere is just too much to turn down. That would move that position to the top of the list for Dallas and based on where they are drafting, they could still get a top-flight guard around the middle to back-half of the first round. That would still leave the backup tackle position up for grabs. Green obviously regressed this year and I’m not sure Dallas has a ton of respect for Bell’s ability to be the long term answer. I could see a tackle being drafted in the top three rounds.

    Safety and running back would be much lower concerns. We will still have Jones, Heath, Woods and Frazier on the roster next year. We will also have Elliott and Smith on the roster and I would not be surprised if Morris is resigned. So unless a player drops to them in the draft, I don’t expect to see either of these positions being looked at before the fifth round.

  • Hector Espindola

    Sure yes! And not having a backup for Lee is scary.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Conservatively speaking, I believe we could have 9 or 10 picks – 4 compensatory( 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th) plus 5 or 6 regular picks. I know we gave up our 5th round for Xavier Wood, but I’m not sure if we lost our 7th round for Benwikere. I’m curious how you see the priority by round. Last week I was sure we should go after a Roquan Smith(ILB/Georgia) to strengthen our Linebacker core, even after we resign Hitch. Then after the Raider game with Tyron going down, I had visions of Chaz Green covering for him again (OMG!) I gave serious thought to Connor Williams( OT/ Texas) in the 1st, As hard as this is for me to say, I think it is OT may be the priority in the first.The O line is what makes this whole thing go. Now go LB in the 2nd or 3rd. RB in the 2nd or 3rd. DT &WR with the 4th round picks.The two 5th round picks used on OG and S. We may use the 6th to move up. I think CB is covered if we move Byron out of Safety to CB, plus we still have White on the practice squad. I don’t think we need to go after a DE either. We have Tapper and Gregory on the back burners, so to speak. Let’s see if either fits before using a pick on another DE. How do you see it breaking down/

  • John Williams

    I’m honestly not sure how big a need WR is. It’s important that they be more consistent, but they aren’t going to be able to invest heavily there unless they release Beasley, and he just might be a cap casualty.

Star Blog

Does James Hanna’s Retirement Make TE a Draft Priority?

Brian Martin

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Does James Hanna's Retirement Make TE a Draft Priority?

The Dallas Cowboys depth at the tight end position took a little bit of a hit this past Friday when James Hanna announced to the world that he planned on retiring. The Cowboys will now move him to the reserve/retired list, thus creating questions as to who will be Jason Witten's primary backup in 2018?

Before James Hanna's retirement announcement, it was rumored he could end up getting cut to get some salary-cap relief. The Cowboys fortunately didn't have to make that decision, but Hanna's retirement has the same impact on the salary-cap as it would have if it would've been released.

The downside of all of this is that the Dallas Cowboys now have to find out who will now become their backup tight end this season. This is definitely an important decision because Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was, and his age could make him start becoming susceptible to injuries, although he has been an Iron Man the majority of his career.

I don't know about you, but there's really not anybody currently on the Cowboys roster who inspires a lot of confidence. Geoff Swaim will likely step into James Hanna's vacated role behind Jason Witten, but the depth behind him creates more questions than answers.

The Dallas Cowboys are supposedly pretty high on Blake Jarwin, but he will be entering his second year and hasn't really received a lot of playing time as of yet. Then, there is Rico Gathers, a fan favorite, who flashed his ability in preseason last year.

Rico Gathers, Rams

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

Gathers mere size and athletic ability makes him a mismatch against anybody who tries to cover him, but I just don't know how committed he is to his football career. He seems much more focused on trying to become a rapper than he does improving his craft. Hopefully, that's not the case and he can take the next step in his development.

The Dallas Cowboys current situation at the tight end position is a little depressing. In fact, I really think it's holding the Cowboys offense back and it's past time to do some upgrading.

Fortunately, there is an event happening this week that could improve the entire tight end position… the 2018 NFL Draft. If the Dallas Cowboys weren't planning on drafting a tight end before James Hanna's retirement, they should seriously consider it now.

Jason Witten isn't going to play forever and if he was to get injured, the Cowboys offense would seriously be in trouble. We all know he's not the player he once was, but he is still the best and most dependable option currently on the roster.

Unfortunately, we witnessed firsthand just how bad things can get when a starter goes down and the depth behind them isn't capable of stepping in and handling the job. That is why the Dallas Cowboys should have a better contingency plan in place if something were to happen to Witten.

The good news is that this year's TE draft class is pretty deep and the Dallas Cowboys should be able to take one to not only replace James Hanna, but hopefully become Witten's successor as well.

Should the Dallas Cowboys draft a tight end?


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Dallas Cowboys “All or Nothing” Series to Shed New Light on HC Jason Garrett

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys "All or Nothing" Series to Shed New Light on HC Jason Garrett

You likely already know by now that the 2017 Dallas Cowboys season -- by all accounts, a forgettable one for fans, coaches, and big-name players -- will be documented forever thanks to NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series.

Effectively, All or Nothing is a new spin on the popular Hard Knocks series with one major difference. This Amazon Prime exclusive doesn't just follow a team through training camp, as NFL Films gets inside team meetings and games throughout the entire season.

The 2017 Cowboys yielded just nine wins, creating more than enough drama for television along the way. This was yet another season where Head Coach Jason Garrett's job was put on the line, although early reviews of All or Nothing (available to the public April 27th) paint Garrett as the lead antagonist.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jason Garrett drops at least 10 f-bombs in the first show. Before the Broncos game in Week 2: "You want to quiet the game down? Hand the f---in' ball to 21 and knock their ass off the ball.

Watching the Titanic and expecting a different outcome is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment, as will be reliving a frustrating season in Dallas. By the end though, Cowboys fans will have a much better understanding of where the 2018 team stands - particularly in the eyes of a Head Coach they looked to fire once again this offseason.

Jason Garrett has long been described as a "players coach", one that his Cowboys teams want to fight for. Whether or not the Cowboys have gone too far in constantly churning their roster in Garrett's image for little end result will likely be determined this season.

This is a Head Coach that has been in place for the departure of DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo (serving as a pivotal decision maker for the Cowboys choosing Dak Prescott as their full-time starter in 2016), and most recently Dez Bryant.

An added bonus to All or Nothing will likely be that it captures Dez Bryant's final moments with the Cowboys.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Garrett to Zeke at practice after Broncos loss: "I want that f---in guy at Ohio St. who was running down on that kickoff. Remember after you played your 2nd play in the NFL against the Seahawks, you came over to me and you said, 'Give me the f---in ball!'

The Cowboys did not just lose Ezekiel Elliott in 2017 (serving his six game suspension), and All or Nothing will remind every one of just how much talent came off the field for Garrett's team last season. Coming out at the same time as the Dallas hosted 2018 Draft, Cowboys fans can build their excitement for a 2018 triumph back to the playoffs.

Anything short of this likely costs Jason Garrett his job, although everything he means to the Dallas Cowboys will be put in better-than-ever perspective by All or Nothing.

David Helman on Twitter

I don't wanna spoil the "All or Nothing" TV show more than what you've already seen or heard. But if you watch it, you're going to get a great look at: 1. Jason Garrett's actual persona 2. The dynamics of Dez's relationship within the team 3.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys “All or Nothing” Series to Shed New Light on HC Jason Garrett" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Cowboys en Español: Definiendo la Urgencia por un WR este NFL Draft

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Pre-Playoff 7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft
Andrew Dieb / USA TODAY Sports

El líder en recepciones de anotación en la historia de la franquicia más emblemática en la historia de los Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, ha visto su tiempo portando la estrella solitaria llegar a su fin. Un fin, por cierto, que dejó a algunos cuantos aficionados, administrativos y jugadores en un estado de descontento.

Por más que me gustaría entrar a detalle de si el veterano receptor merecía ser recortado o no, si el equipo tomó la decisión correcta o no, el NFL Draft está a menos de una semana de distancia. Así que, en vez de hablar de lo que pudo haber sido, hablemos de lo que puede ser. 

Los Cowboys, a pesar de ser conocidos como una potencia ofensiva en las últimas temporadas, necesitan a un wide receiver. Sí, Dallas consiguió al agente libre de Jacksonville Allen Hurns, pero siendo honestos, no parece ser suficiente talento para un equipo que quiere construirle una ofensiva amigable a su quarterback, Dak Prescott.

Si el roster sólo tiene a Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown y Deonte Thompson; se necesita un WR. Incluso con Bryant en el equipo, se necesitaba un receptor. Lo cual lleva a la gran pregunta: ¿el despido de Dez significa que a los Cowboys les urge aún más un receptor? ¿Significa que definitivamente buscarán mejorar la posición con su selección de primera ronda?

Algo queda claro, la administración sabía lo que sucedería. Dez Bryant no estaba en los planes para el 2018 y claramente sus planes para abordar el NFL Draft no se verán cambiados por la partida del apasionado #88.

Estas estrategias se plantean por meses y más meses. Los Cowboys se han fijado mucho en la posición de receptor, desde que fue el NFL Combine hasta las visitas privadas que toman lugar a lo largo de Abril.

Es un hecho que tienen en la mira a los receptores. Claramente, quieren añadir más talento a la ofensiva para Dak Prescott.

En una clase de prospectos que cuenta con bastantes receptores, otra pregunta naturalmente, es ¿lo harán en primera ronda o más tarde? Me sorprendería demasiado si el equipo espera hasta la tercera ronda. Sin duda, es algo que tienen que atender con una de sus dos primeros picks.

 1

En el primero, la selección #19 global, podrían encontrar a uno de los tres mejores receptores del año. Calvin Ridley, de Alabama; Courtland Sutton, de SMU; DJ Moore, de Maryland. Si buscarán el "remplazo" de Dez Bryant en uno de estos tres jugadores, definitivamente será uno de estos tres prospectos.

Todos tienen lo suyo. Sutton es un receptor estilo "X" (como Dez Bryant) mientras Ridley, por ejemplo, es claramente un receptor "Z" (como Terrance Williams). DJ Moore brinda un poco de versatilidad entre ambos roles, y podría ser un jugador de impacto en cualquiera que se le juegue, aunque probablemente brillaría más si se le permitiera jugar como un "Z."

Afortunadamente para Dallas, el recién firmado Allen Hurns también es capaz de tomar cualquiera de los dos roles. Esto le da flexibilidad a los Cowboys de tomar al que más les guste, o en su defecto, a quien esté disponible.

En mi segundo Mock Draft del año, simulé a Courtland Sutton, producto de SMU a los Cowboys con el pick #19. Los coaches de la Estrella Solitaria han mostrado bastante interés por el producto local y no me sorprendería nada verlos aterrizar un receptor como él la próxima semana.

Ahora bien, si Dallas decide esperar hasta la segunda ronda para conseguir a un par de manos confiables, encontrarán talento. Definitivamente. James Washington, DJ Chark, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, entre otros podrían estar ahí en la selección #50 (segunda ronda).

Cowboys Draft: Should Cowboys Consider WR James Washington?

Oklahoma State WR James Washington (Rob Ferguson / USA TODAY Sports)

Si el equipo quiere tomar talento para otra posición en la primera, lo podrán hacer sabiendo que encontrarán un WR talentoso al día siguiente.

Afortunadamente, esta ofensiva se basa en Ezekiel Elliott y el juego terrestre detrás de la línea ofensiva. Los receptores son importantes, por supuesto, pero no es necesario tener algo tan dominante como lo fue Dez Bryant en el 2013 y el 2014, por ejemplo.

Por ahora, sólo falta esperar como abordan los Cowboys esta necesidad la próxima semana cuando el NFL Draft del 2018 tome lugar en el mismo lugar en el que este equipo juega sus partidos e intenta pelear, el AT&T Stadium.

Con un poco de suerte, estrenaran el campo este 2018 obteniendo su primer victoria del año la próxima semana.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Definiendo la Urgencia por un WR este NFL Draft" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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