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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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pauul

    March 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Also, many folks CANNOT play both sides of the line – right or left dominant. Seems to me that he was much better at RG than either left side. And better at RT than RG. I couldnt find a good breakdown on PFF to back that up but he seems to drop his right foot better than his left. Which is good for RT

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      March 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Good points, Paul. He played better on the right side both at tackle and guard. Was asked to move around a ton in Carolina and Tennessee, would like to see how he does with a set position.

  2. Ethan Chazin

    March 26, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Like the off-season approach, get serviceable players with experience on cheap one year deals, build thru draft and re-sign your own. Still think with a halfwaydecent secondary we don’t lose to Aaron Rogers 2 of the last 3 years.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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