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5 Cowboys Backups Who Could Earn Starting Role in 2018

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Backups Who Could Earn Starting Role in 2018

As things stand right now, the Dallas Cowboys don't have very many starting positions up for grabs. That means almost all 22 starting positions on both offense and defense are spoken for already, which is a good thing by the way, unless you're a backup wanting to earn more playing time.

Being a backup is never really a good feeling, especially as a professional athlete. Up until reaching the NFL, most of these players rarely came off the field at their given position and have had to kind of learn to swallow their pride a little. But, that doesn't make them any less important to the overall team's success.

Case in point, look what happened to the Dallas Cowboys last season when Tyron Smith had to miss some time due to his reoccurring back injuries. The Cowboys didn't have an adequate backup left tackle to step in, which ended up having a negative ripple effect to the entire offense. That is why some of the best teams in the league end up being the ones with good depth throughout the roster.

Today I want to share with you some the Dallas Cowboys backup players who I believe could earn a starting role in 2018. Remember, there aren't very many starting positions up for grabs. Luckily for the players mentioned below, all of them happen to play a position with no clear-cut starter right now.

Ryan Switzer

Ryan Switzer

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer

If we learned one thing from Ryan Switzer's rookie season, it is he is explosive in the open field when he has the ball in his hands. Unfortunately, we didn't really get to see what kind of wide receiver he can be with the Dallas Cowboys, but that could change in 2018.

Cole Beasley's status with the Cowboys is still up in the air right now. The Cowboys can save quite a bit of money by releasing or trading him, even though there's no indication they are planning to do either. But, if they do move on from Beasley, I believe Ryan Switzer could step in and adequately replace his production.

Taco Charlton

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A lot of Cowboys Nation wasn't too thrilled that the Dallas Cowboys decided to use their 2017 first-round draft pick on Taco Charlton, but like it or not, we're stuck with him now. Charlton didn't have the most impressive rookie season, but he started to show signs of improvement towards the end of the season.

The right defensive end position is up for grabs, and if Charlton can pick up where he left off, he has a real chance of earning the starting role in 2018. He already has the size and athleticism to play the position and with a full year in the Cowboys strength and conditioning program, he should be much more prepared to hold up for a full 16 game season.

Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys S Xavier Woods

With Byron Jones moving to cornerback full-time, the Dallas Cowboys suddenly find themselves pretty thin at the safety position. In fact, we could see entirely new starters on the backend of the Cowboys defense in 2018, and one of those players could be Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods played a variety of different roles in the Cowboys secondary as a rookie. He might just have been the most impressive player in the Cowboys entire draft class last year. I for one am really excited to see what Xavier Woods can do if he takes over at free safety. I actually think he is a poor man's Earl Thomas.

Kavon Frazier

Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier

After being mostly a special-teams contributor to start his career in the NFL, Kavon Frazier finally received his chance to show what he can provide to the Dallas Cowboys defense towards the end of 2017. It was a small sample size, but Frazier showed enough on film that he could compete for more playing time, if not a starting role in 2018.

Frazier could be the hard-hitting/enforcer type safety the Cowboys had in Barry Church before he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, with Kris Richard now in charge of the Cowboy secondary (Seattle Seahawks former defensive coordinator), Frazier could be the Cowboys version of Kam Chancellor. It will be interesting to see how the safety position plays out leading up to the start of the season.

Rico Gathers

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

To be completely honest, there is no way Rico Gathers overtakes Jason Witten to become the Dallas Cowboys starting tight end. Witten isn't quite the same player he once was, but he is a reliable target in the passing game and has the trust of the coaching staff. But, it's time for him to step aside a little bit, which is where Gathers comes in.

Gathers is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defensive backs due to his immense size and athletic ability. He has shown flashes of his playmaking ability, something the Cowboys offense could desperately use from the TE position. He of course will have to convince the coaching staff he is ready for a larger offensive role in order to steal some playing time from Jason Witten.

Which Dallas Cowboys backups do you think earn a starting role in 2018?



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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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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