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Byron Bell Brings Position Versatility, Massive Size To Cowboys OL (Film Review)

Kevin Brady

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Byron Bell Brings Position Versatility, Massive Size To Cowboys OL (Film Review) 1

While the Cowboys have had the luxury of stability and health across their offensive line over the past few seasons, the departure of Ronald Leary and retirement of Doug Free add a few question marks to the Dallas depth up-front.

To help secure their tackle depth, the Cowboys signed former Panthers and Titans offensive lineman Byron Bell for the 2017 season.

Though he missed the 2016 season after suffering an ankle injury during OTA's, Bell started 72 games over his first five seasons in the NFL, most coming with the Carolina Panthers. Bell was last seen starting all 16 games for the Titans in 2015, playing both left and right tackle, as well as guard.

So far in his career, Byron Bell has been the recipient of much criticism. When forced to play left tackle in 2014, Bell was ranked as the second-to-worst left tackle in football by Pro Football Focus. To be fair, Bell was never expected to play left tackle, and didn't really fit the position at all. When asked to play right tackle or guard, Bell performed much better.

The 6'5" 340 pound tackle showed the versatility to play both inside and out for the Titans in 2015, but to be quite honest, he wasn't too spectacular at either position. With his big, imposing frame, you would hope that he would possess strong hands, and be able to drive defenders off the ball while being a mauler in the run game.

However, Bell displayed both pad level and contact balance issues which hindered his ability to pass and run block.

byron bell - Streamable

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At left guard here, Bell gets beat with a bull rush right from the snap. He must stay stronger with his post foot, and sink his hips to counter the bull. At 340 pounds, Bell must be able to anchor better and stop his momentum from falling backwards.

This issues with pad level, stiff hips, and dying feet were consistent throughout the games I studied on Bell.

byron bell 2 - Streamable

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This time on a draw play, Bell's technique is almost all bad. He does a good job of shielding the defensive tackle and giving the running back a two-way go, but his stiffness and pad level are alarming.

Bell is nearly standing straight up here, and does not run his feet whatsoever. He absolutely must improve on plays like these if he is to have any impact for the Cowboys.

As you might expect for a man of Byron Bell's size, he is not the most fluid athlete. On film he struggled a few times with defensive linemen crossing his face. I also have to question how well he can block in space and get to the second level, something that could be an issue in a zone blocking scheme.

byron bell 4 - Streamable

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I know that by now, you're probably wondering why the Cowboys would sign a guy that I've had almost nothing nice to say about.

So let me get into some of these positives.

The very fact that Bell can play at both guard and tackle is important. We always talk about how the Cowboys love defensive linemen who can move around the line and rotate throughout the positions. Well, that is important for backup offensive linemen as well.

While he struggled with bull rushes and needs to do a better job sinking his hips and delivering a punch, Bell showed the ability to kick set versus just about any alignment from the tackle position. He needs to play better through contact, but he has shown that he can get back to the point of intersection and be in position.

Bell also worked well with double teams, getting movement on the down lineman and clouding the linebacker's field of vision. This ability will be important as the Cowboys use deuce blocks often.

When the announcement was made that Byron Bell was coming to Dallas, many immediately speculated that he could compete for the starting right tackle job. At this moment, however, I don't believe he is a better option that former third rounder Chaz Green.

In the limited time that we were able to see Green, he showed that he can be a solid contributor along the offensive line as soon as next season.

To me, Byron Bell provides good depth behind both Green and Emmett Cleary, and could compete for the swing tackle position. His versatility, size, and athleticism for his size are all positives, and while his game is a bit raw, he can fill in if needed due to injury. I actually like him more inside, and he could be competing with Jonathan Cooper for a backup guard spot.

Overall, I like the signing of Byron Bell. He isn't going to be an All-Pro tackle, but he doesn't need to be either. For a swing tackle on a one year deal, Byron Bell is well worth the risk for the Dallas Cowboys.



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 have been with ITS since 2016.

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Tony Pollard, Supporting Cast or a Co-lead with Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin

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How Much can RB Tony Pollard eat Into Zeke's 2019 Workload?

Since the Dallas Cowboys drafted Running Back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft he's been the star of the show. Any of their other offensive weapons have been nothing more than supporting cast the past three years, but rookie RB/WR Tony Pollard could prove to be more than just supporting cast and become more of a co-lead in Zeke's show.

Suggesting Tony Pollard has a chance to be more than just supporting cast with Ezekiel Elliott is a lot to put on a rookies shoulders, but that's the kind of hype he's receiving already. He hasn't even put on the pads yet with the Dallas Cowboys, but he's already receiving Alvin Kamara type comparisons due to the versatility he's expected to bring with him to the NFL.

Living up to those Alvin Kamara comparisons might be even more difficult than becoming anything more than just an extra behind Zeke anytime soon, but it's doable. After all, Kamara immediately stepped in as a rookie and became a costar with Mark Ingram in New Orleans. It's certainly feasible to think Pollard can do the same.

Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

There's of course only one problem with this way of thinking. Mark Ingram is no Ezekiel Elliott. And, no RB on the depth chart behind Zeke the last three years has been good enough to cut into #21's heavy workload. Is the hype surrounding Tony Pollard justified? Is he talented enough to cut into Zeke's playing time?

Those are some really big questions we don't have an answer to as of yet. Training camp could help determine the type of role Tony Pollard will have with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and beyond, but even that can be thrown out the window once games start to matter in the regular season.

Personally, I think Tony Pollard will be part of a supporting cast behind Ezekiel Elliott this year. I just don't think he's ready to step in and costar with Zeke just yet. I think he will be more of a comedic relief that will be used from time to time to keep things interesting. That's not necessarily a bad thing though considering his versatility to contribute in the running or passing game.

In time though, Pollard could prove worthy of an increase in playing time and become more of a co-lead with No. 21. It may very well be in his rookie season, but he's really going to have to prove himself and that will need to start this week when the Dallas Cowboys kick off their training camp in Oxnard, California.

What do you think? Is Tony Pollard supporting cast or a co-lead with Zeke?



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Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable

Matthew Lenix

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Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Formidable

Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.

The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.

Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).

Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.

Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.

The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.



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CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season

Kevin Brady

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Seldom-Used CB Jourdan Lewis Could Play Big Role Against Saints

For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.

In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.

After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.

Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.

 "As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."

Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.

Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.

"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."

The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.

Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.



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