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3 Players Fans Should Watch In This Year’s Training Camp

First off, I want to wish everyone's mom a Happy Mother's Day. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have some of our favorite NFL players we love watching on Sundays. Also, to my mom, I love you.

Shifting gears, heading into this you likely saw a heavy dose of NFL Draft-related content. You know the usual “Why This Team Should Draft X-Player” or “Ranking the Top Draft Prospects” type stuff.

As we now sit about a week-and-a-half from the end of the Draft, we can now shift our attention toward (Organized Team Activities) and NFL .

While most of the chatter will likely be around the bigger names such as DEs Jr. and Sam “De” Williams, WRs and , and –I wanted to highlight three under-the-radar players that could make some noise.

Without further ado, check out my piece below.

1. Fresno State CB DaRon Bland

Entering this draft, you could argue that a wasn't a huge need on the Cowboys board. However, once the legal situation materialized, people were debating whether they needed to shift their whole draft board to go after a Corner.

As the rounds went by, it wasn't until the fifth round when Dallas used one of their five fifth-round picks to add depth to their DB Room and selected Fresno State Cornerback , who may not be a starter right away but is another young talented they have for the future.

Measuring in at six-foot, and with 35-inch arms, people were calling this a selection “A Guy” all the way. As I mentioned that he may not be a starter right away (given they have all three starting already penciled in), Bland will be a contributor likely on at first–but don't sleep on him moving up the sometime in 2023.

He has the physical traits to succeed, but most people believe he just needs to be developed. And, if you're telling me we can coach up a guy into a starter who has 4.4 speed and isn't afraid to lay the wood, sign me up.

For those who would like a more in-depth breakdown of Bland, check out The NFL Draft Bible‘s over him.

2. Boston College C Alec Lindstrom

Next, we have Boston College , who's the brother of Guard Chris Lindstrom. Entering this draft, the Center position was a need for the Boys and people pointed to the franchise to draft Iowa Center , who was ranked the top-rated Center in this year's class.

However, it wasn't until after the draft that they addressed the position, and boy they landed a good one. Rated as one of the top Cs in the class, many expected Lindstrom to go in around late Day 2/ Early Day 3, but the Cowboys lucked out at landing him as UDFA.

Despite being a little undersized for his position, Lindstrom tested well enough to get some NFL Draft Buzz around him, and he should be able to come in right away to challenge Matt Farinok for the backup Center spot.

Yes, I get that some fans will feel eerie about the word “undersized”, but Lindstrom brings enough IQ and technical skills to make up for his limited physical attributes. And before people think I'm advocating for him to start, I'm not.

Lindstrom should be a solid depth guy for the franchise, and given the huge amount of the has every year, why not take the risk on a guy who finished as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which awards the nation's top Center.

3. Harvard RB Aaron Shampklin

Lastly, we have Harvard , who the Cowboys signed as one of their 20 undrafted . Coming in at 5'9, 194 pounds, you may be thinking this guy is already too small to play in the league, but I wouldn't underestimate the guy too much.

A two-year starter at Harvard, Shampklin not only led his team in rushing and all-purpose yards, but he led the Ivy League in rushing with 93.6 YPG (Yards Per Game) and was 3rd in all-purpose yards (106.6 YPG).

Looking at a multitude of draft profiles over him, you find the common theme that this guy is going to be a pass-down type of back. And given that the Cowboys could lose both of their starting RBs next season–he may be needed quicker than we thought.

In a CBS article written by Josh Edwards, Chris Trapasso, and Ryan Wilson, the trio gave out NFL Draft 2022 superlatives to certain prospects who fit the bill for such an award. In their James Robinson Award (which is given to someone who's most likely going to be the next good undrafted running back), Trapasso chose Shampklin and said, “it's apparent he has a type of bounce with every handoff.”

Trapasso added Shampklin runs with great vision and can make defenders miss before taking off. (Sounds like that guy, right?)

While it may not excite people to think about the franchise trotting out a smaller RB as a starter, I'm just pointing out that Shampklin has the talent to move up the RB Depth Chart quickly.

Furthermore, I understand these may not be the sexiest names to look out for in the camp, but they all have a good chance to become household names. So yes be excited about Smith, Tolbert, Fowler Jr, Williams, and Washington, but don't forget about these guys. Because if you think those are the only guys who will be turning heads, you're in for a huge surprise.

Rocky Garza Jr
Rocky Garza Jr
Rolling with the Boyz since 96'. Chop up sports with me on Twitter @rockssjr.

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DDthinks

Appreciate this topic as much of what is out there now are somewhat rehashed takes. And kudos for finding video of Shampklin, there isn’t much out there. I agree that he should get a very long look. They already have a number of between the tackle options on and around the roster now. No doubt they will be able to keep one capable of game reps on the practice squad. But finding a more open field, juke-y, type is a welcome option to add.

I really have a tough time seeing Lindstrom making the 53 unless there is an unexpected trade or cut of Biadiasz. Jerry has a number of quotes throughout the years, including right after the draft, that they do not like having center only guys. My strong suspicion is they abide by a one is enough stance.

And Bland is another Legion of Boom DB project. Like with all of the ones that have entered the mix since the Kris Richard days and forward, I really hope they can EVENTUALLY resurrect their Seahawks hidden gem magic. The DB group will be very interesting to see what happens as I also think it’s way too early to pull the plug on Mukuamu which some sites seem want to do,

DDthinks

I’ll add one, Dontario Drummond. There are other intriguing UDFAs too, but much like Shampklin, he might project to a role that is missing (or will be missing i.e. Pollard in the case of Shampklin). They lost their gadget option when Ced Wilson left. Drummond doesn’t have a strong 40 time and his ability to carry defenders seemed to wane versus pro-quality defenders in some clips I’ve seen, but he could be a WR/RB option in a Deebo-lite type role.

Cowboys fan

Despite what one comment already said, I like Alec Lindstrom…. Everybody liked Tyler Linderbaum in the 1st round, but Lindstrom is pretty much the same size as Linderbaum is, and he has a higher pass blocking grade than Linderbaum did too, so I think Tyler Biadasz better watch out…. If Alec Lindstrom can put some weight on, I think he will be a lot better than Biadasz, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lindstrom makes it as a backup right away!! If not, then they better pay him to stay, cause letting him go will be a big mistake!! Everybody complains about needing better center play…. Well here it is!! Out of all the players we signed as UDFA, this one is probably my favorite….

DDthinks

BTW, to clarify, I also very much like Lindstrom and hope they do everything they can to get him on the practice squad.

lonewolfz28

Shampklin may be small, but he’s not exactly fast either. He is shifty with a good, low center of balance. I still like Rico Dowdle’s and JaQuan Hardy’s chances better.

Comparing Lindstrom and Linderbaum on paper, Lindstrom is 1″ taller (6’3″ vs 6’2″) with the exact same weight, but with 1-3/8″ longer arms (32-5/8″ vs 31-1/4″). Lindstrom’s hands are 3/4″ smaller.

Linderbaum didn’t work out at the Combine, so comparing his Pro Day to Lindstroms’s Combine numbers leaves a bit to desired in the apples to apples category, but here goes:
…..Linderbaum/Lindstrom
40yrd: 4.98 / 5.18
Bench: 24 / 25
Vert: 32.5 / 29
Broad: 110.5 / 111
3-cone: 7.4 / 7.5
Shuttle: 4.38 / 4.66
On paper, Linderbaum is definitely more athletic, but Lindstrom has better physical traits for an OL. Honestly, I’m surprised and very happy to get Lindstrom as an UDFA.

I liked Farniok better as a C than at OG, but with Lindstrom in the fold, he may end up on the fringe. It may be a camp battle between him and McGovern for backup OG, in which case, I like Farniok better based on his versatility and cleaner play in his limited chances.

As for Bland, I’m still on the fence. I’d love for him to prove out, since having quality depth at CB would be an awesome change from what we’ve had lately.

Roger Dickson

I love the udfa class but Markesse Bell, Story Jackson, and Drummond will make the roster. Bell and Jackson, bring size and attitude. To me that was theme of Dallas draft class. These players will be on special teams. But the safetys group better watch out Bell a throw back football player. Just my opinion.

VAM

No disrespect, but NFL starter and Shampklin just don’t match up, IMO. If the Cowboys thought they could “lose both their starting RBs next year” (as could happen), they should have drafted (as some commenters here, including myself, noted) one in the middle round range, as there were several good prospects to be had. Perhaps they will grab one early in next year’s draft. Can’t fathom that an UDFA RB from Harvard could step all the way up to starting for the DC. But if he can, BRAVO!

GhostProtocol

I’d caution all to not dismiss James Empey as a legit contender to the C2 spot over Lindstrom. A 4-yr starter on a run-based team, with already fully developed NFL-body. Was responsible for making all the protection calls since his freshman season. My 2022 dark horse.

Lawrence C. Baker

Once upon a time the Cowboys had an undersized Center named Mark Stepnoski. He was so called undersized, but played his heart out for Dallas. A quick technician and super smart. You better believe Alec Lindstrom can make this team and send Biadasz packing if he don’t improve in a hurry. Big time pick up for Dallas Cowboys in free agency. Get it done kid and don’t be intimidated!!!

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