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A Big Picture View of Terrance Mitchell’s Move

I can’t think of any position group on any team that has received as much criticism and blame as the Dallas Cowboys secondary has over the past decade or so. Trust me, they’ve been easy to blame. The downfall of Terence Newman in 2011, the failed Alan Ball experiment in 2010, and even the (so far) disappointing career of Morris Claiborne are all examples which detractors will point to in order to prove the Cowboys secondary as inadequate. The thing is, the last couple of seasons, the Cowboys secondary hasn’t been bad whatsoever. Last year, they ranked fifth in pass yards against in both per game and overall categories.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Terrance Mi

I can't think of any position group on any team that has received as much criticism and blame as the Dallas Cowboys secondary has over the past decade or so.

Trust me, they've been easy to blame.

The downfall of Terence Newman in 2011, the failed Alan Ball experiment in 2010, and even the (so far) disappointing career of Morris Claiborne are all examples which detractors will point to in order to prove the Cowboys secondary as inadequate.

The thing is, the last couple of seasons, the Cowboys secondary hasn't been bad whatsoever.

Last year, they ranked fifth in pass yards against in both per game and overall categories. Though the interceptions weren't there, you could argue that the unit improved as a whole.

And the signs are pointing towards them being even better in 2016.

One cog in the 2016 defensive backfield machine will be Terrance Mitchell, whom the Cowboys are giving a chance to move from his original cornerback position to safety during OTA's.

Mitchell failed to make the Cowboys 53-man roster in 2014 after an overall lackluster preseason performance, but found himself back on the team later in 2015.

Though he saw very limited time last season, Mitchell recorded the first interception by a Cowboys cornerback in almost a full calendar year when he finally saw game action week 15 against the New York Jets.

Cowboys Terrance Mitchell intercepts Jets Ryan Fitzpatrick

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As Sean Martin profiled here on Inside The Star, Mitchell has displayed the athleticism and versatility to play all over the field. He also plays well in space, and has shown the ability to make open field tackles, something the Cowboys current safeties have had a problem with.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-secondary-dont-forget-about-these-two-corners/

Moving Mitchell to safety makes a ton of sense for the team.

JJ Wilcox has been average at best during his tenure at safety for the Cowboys, His contract is expiring soon, and Byron Jones has emerged as the next free safety.

Though the team drafted Central Michigan safety Kavon Frazier in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, there isn't a whole lot known about how Frazier will translate to the NFL. The team obviously likes Frazier, and wants to give him a shot, but you don't want to bet the future on a sixth round rookie just yet.

Barry Church is starting to age, and has performed inconsistently as a whole during his career in Dallas. For now, he is the strong safety, but this could very well change as soon as 2017.

All of this makes Terrance Mitchell's potential move even more important to the Cowboys future moves at the safety position.

If Terrance Mitchell can play safety consistently, chances for other cornerbacks may open up as well.

This could open the door for Purdue Boilermakers sixth round corner Anthony Brown, who I profiled for the film review series, and enjoyed watching play.

//insidethestar.com/draft-film-review-cowboys-cb-anthony-brown/

As I talked about in the film review, Brown has some redeeming NFL qualities, and I would like to see him make the 53-man roster.

The issue for Brown is the numbers game of an NFL roster, but if Mitchell moves to safety permanently, Brown will be able to find more reps at corner in practice and may have more chances to prove himself.

There is, of course, the possibility (or probability) of either Morris Claiborne or Brandon Carr not being on the 2017 roster, which would make Brown's position even more important.

Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com has been skeptical of the move, believing that in the end, Mitchell will return to corner. However there have been other reports of Mitchell looking good at safety when given the chance, so far.

We won't know the outcome of this move until training camp concludes this summer, but at the moment, Terrance Mitchell has a real chance to help this secondary as a safety and nickel corner immediately.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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5 Comments
  • http://RJOchoaShow.com RJ Ochoa

    I like this. I go so back and forth in terms of the depth at corner, but I feel confident enough to let Terrance slide over. Great write up, Kev!

    Sent from my iPad using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

    • http://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I guess we should have seen the move as a demotion! I still like our corner depth, though. Just have to hope they come through.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    And then, barely a day later, the Cowboys waive Mitchell. WTF? Gotta be something the team saw and kept very quiet. Can't remember, is Mitchell PS eligible still?

    • http://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I haven't been able to find a definite answer to this yet. He was on the Bears PS until mid-October in 2014, and Dallas' PS for a couple weeks in December. Not sure if he's been active six games or not, though.

      • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

        According to his stats on NFL.com, he was active in 8 games in 2015, ruling him out for being added to the PS. http://prntscr.com/bfjvev

Player News

Report: Austin Heading to IR: Deonte Thompson is the Next Man Up

John Williams

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Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson Making Preseason Debut Vs. Cardinals

Tavon Austin's stint with the Dallas Cowboys has been up and down through six games. He's provided some big play ability on the outside, but hasn't really had the running room on jet sweeps that the Dallas Cowboys would have hoped for when they acquired Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now it's being reported by Brandon George from the Dallas Morning News that Austin may be headed to injured reserve for a groin tear suffered in the Dallas Cowboys week six win over the Jaguars.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said WR Tavon Austin will be getting a second opinion on his injured right groin in the next day or so. He didn't discount possibility of him being placed on injured reserve.

 

Whether Austin goes to injured reserve or not remains to be seen, but we do know that he'll miss week seven and likely won't be able to suit up for a while. Though Austin hasn't been relied upon much, he has been a threat that opposing defenses have had to account for in both the passing and running game. Tavon Austin leaves a bit of a hole.

Enter Deonte Thompson.

Deonte Thompson, who was signed by the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason, hasn't been the same type of rushing threat that Austin has been in his NFL career. Thompson's only carried the ball two times in his career for -5 yards. However, Thompson has some skills that could bode well should the Dallas Cowboys decide to use him in the jet sweep role that Austin is vacating.

He's been a return threat in his NFL career, averaging 24.8 yards per return. He's had returns of 47, 64, and 74 yards. He's also had some good moments running after the catch in his career, though he hasn't gotten many opportunities.

Thompson's a former track athlete and before the 2012 NFL Draft ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. He has the speed and a bit more size than Austin to make some things happen if given the opportunities.

The jet sweep has become an important staple in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even when they don't hand it off on the sweep, they use it in play action, to set up screens, and even to get the defense thinking about it on direct hand offs to Ezekiel Elliott. They aren't going to want to scrap that part of the playbook just because Austin will be sitting out. Deonte Thompson can be that guy. Much like Marquise Goodwin in San Francisco, Thompson has elite speed.

He's not just football fast. He's fast-fast.

When I was in high school, I played baseball. In the baseball program I was fast. The fastest on the team. That was my game. Infield singles. Stretching doubles to triples. Stealing bases. I was fast. I went out for track my senior season because I thought, "hey I'm fast, let's see what would happen if I ran the 100-meter-dash." I found out really quickly that there is a difference between baseball fast and track fast.

The same applies to football and track. Deonte Thompson is track fast. He's a guy that the Dallas Cowboys need to get the ball to on those jet sweeps to continue to threaten defenses sideline to sideline. When it's working, as we've seen with Lucky Whitehead in the past and Tavon Austin this year, it opens up a lot for the Dallas Cowboys offense.

It's likely that Cole Beasley gets those first jet sweep attempts, and as a trusted veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably should. But, if Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan want to continue to use the jet sweep to the offense's maximum benefit, they need to start showing it with Deonte Thompson. He has the speed to get to the corner and take it to the end zone from any where on the field.

Here's an example of what Thompson can do with the ball in his hands.

NFL on Twitter

109 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!!! Deonte Thompson returns the missed field goal and runs it all the way back for a @ChicagoBears TD! #CHIvsAZ https://t.co/k9IfkZMoIY

 

With Tavon Austin set to be out -- possibly for the season -- it's time to see what Deonte Thompson can do. The Dallas Cowboys need to get a win here to get above .500 for the first time this season and set themselves up to make a run at the divisional crown. Deonte Thompson's ability with the ball in his hands will give them a good opportunity to do just that.



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Michael Gallup Showing Signs of a Breakout

John Williams

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Cowboys Roster: Dallas Made Right Decisions on Unproven Skill Players

We're only six games into the career of Rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup who was selected 81st overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. It's been a slow start to his career, mostly because of usage. On Sunday, he took a step toward what many thought he could be for the Cowboys when he was drafted; Wide receiver one.

The numbers, one reception on two targets for 27 yards, may not indicate a breakout is coming, but if you look at the two targets he saw and the quality of the corner he faced, they're more impressive.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Look at this catch by #Cowboys rookie WR Michael Gallup https://t.co/lD1xJ2WemD

On the Dallas Cowboys first drive of the day, Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott looked Michael Gallup's way down the left sideline and hit him on a nice back shoulder fade that looked an awful lot like a Dez Bryant-like contested catch. It was a key play on 3rd-and-9 to get the Dallas Cowboys into Jacksonville territory on a drive that led to a Brett Maher field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Later in the game with the Cowboys driving to score a touchdown, Gallup made a tremendous catch when he got perfect depth behind All-Pro Corner Back A.J. Bouye and in front of the safety help. It looked to be an impressive touchdown catch just inside the end zone, but was overturned on replay. On review, Gallup wasn't able to get his second foot down after he made contact with the defender. Though the touchdown didn't stand, it was an impressive effort for Michael Gallup.

Jordan Schultz on Twitter

Michael Gallup with a near circus catch to ALMOST haul in his first NFL TD. Ruled incomplete. #cowboys #jags @CSUFootball https://t.co/SePSc3n1Yp

Michael Gallup led the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group in snaps (81% of the offensive snaps) on Sunday, and according to Mike Clay from ESPN, he led the Dallas Cowboys in routes run as well. Both of Gallup's targets came against Bouye, showing an ability to beat one of the best corners in the NFL.

Mike Clay on Twitter

Michael Gallup paced the Cowboys in pass routes (25) for the first time in his career on Sunday.

As Michael Gallup sees more opportunities to play, his opportunities to make plays are going to continue to grow. With news coming down that Tavon Austin is unlikely to play for several weeks because of a groin injury, more snaps are opening up at the wide receiver position. Tavon played 18 snaps before getting injured on Sunday, so there will be increased opportunities for Gallup moving forward.

Gallup's only seen about 3 targets a game, but with the increased snaps he saw in week six and the potential for even more with Austin coming, the opportunities should grow. As he continues to come down with impressive catches like he did on Sunday (even if only one of them counted), it's going to increase Dak Prescott's and the coaching staff's level of trust in the rookie.

It's safe to say that more big time catches are coming for Michael Gallup and a breakout is coming sooner than later.



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Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

John Williams

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Oakland Raiders' Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

Aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys haven't received much production from their wide receiver group outside of the occasional big play from fellow wide outs Michael Gallup or Tavon Austin. Well, the Oakland Raiders apparently are willing to listen to offers for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and, according to Michael Rapaport, are asking for a first round draft pick in return.

Allan Bell on Twitter

Raiders want a first round pick for Amari Cooper, per @RapSheet.

 

The Dallas Cowboys could use someone with Cooper's ability, even if he has been a drop machine through his first four seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL, 2015 and 2016, Cooper averaged 77 receptions on 131 targets, for 1,111.5 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cooper averaged 11 drops a season, including 18 in his rookie season.

Any time you start a discussion about whether you should trade for someone, the question always begins with "what are you paying?" What would you be willing to pay for Amari Cooper? After back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, he only went for 680 yards in 14 games (48.6 yards per game). Though the yardage wasn't great last year, he did catch seven touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders.

So far in 2018, Cooper is averaging 46.7 yards per game on 3.67 receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown.

I wouldn't send a top 60 pick for Amari Cooper. He's a good player, but is he better than what Michael Gallup could be? Because if you trade for Cooper he's going to likely eat into Gallup's snap count and we need to find out if Michal Gallup is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could rely on in the future. But, if the Cowboys coaching staff brought Cooper in to replace Allen Hurns, then I'd be very happy to talk about acquiring the former first round draft choice.

A starting wide receiver group of Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup would be a very difficult group to cover and Quarterback Dak Prescott showed on Sunday that he has what it takes to get the ball down field to his receivers.

The Cowboys probably wouldn't make this trade, unless Jerry Jones got involved, because they value their draft picks too much, but if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a third round pick I'd do it in a heart beat. For a second round pick, I'd have to get a fifth or sixth back from Oakland in that deal. Cooper's a good player, but hasn't shown to be one of the best at his position.

There are a couple other players from Oakland that I'm more interested in trading for.

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What do you think? Would you trade for Amari Cooper, and if so, what would you be willing to give?

 



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