One of the darlings of training camp, both this year and in 2017, is Wide Receiver Lance Lenoir. Both with offensive plays and his return ability, Lenoir has made cases for a roster spot. What are his chances of making the Dallas Cowboys' squad in 2018?
Lenoir faces a loaded WR depth chart this season. Even with Dez Bryant and Brice Butler leaving, Dallas added veterans Allen Hurns and Deonte It's why Thompson in free agency and then drafted Michael Gallup the third round. They also brought in Tavon Austin, who may be listed at running back but will play plenty of WR and should be the team's primary return man.
So right out of the gates, that doesn't sound good. That's six guys, plus Austin at RB, that are projected to make the team. It's why I did not include Lenoir on my latest 53-man roster projection last week.
However, there is still a lot of camp and a whole preseason to go. Lance has plenty of opportunity to turn heads and work his way up the depth chart.
Some feel he is already doing that, such as Patrik Walker of CBS Sports. In an article posted yesterday, he looked at comments from new Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal about Lenoir's progress and showed example of Lenoir beating some of the team's best cornerbacks in practice.
Even though I didn't include Lance on my last 53, I can see several ways he can work his way on. The most obvious route is through injuries, but there are alternatives.
One way is if Dallas decides to release Terrance Williams. That won't be easy; Terrance has system experience and is a great run blocker for a receiver. He also still has a lot of dead money on his contract.
But the Cowboys can afford to eat that money now, and Williams' spot on the depth chart is in question with the arrivals of Hurns and Gallup. Dallas may elect to cut Terrance rather than having him as WR4, wanting to make room for younger prospects such as Lenoir and Noah Brown.
Deonte Thompson also isn't guaranteed a spot. He was signed to a minimal one-year deal and is 29 years old. The Cowboys could easily elect to keep Lenoir over him.
With the passing game shifting strategies to a more spread look, and adjusting to the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, so much is still up in the air. There is great opportunity for young guys to come in and break through the usual walls, and Lance Lenoir is a prime candidate to do just that. The pecking order is hardly solidified these days.
The fact Lenoir also has return ability is another big plus. Even though Tavon Austin will likely be the main guy, Lenoir could offer a more exciting backup than Cole Beasley.
The potential is clear for Lance Lenoir to make the team. I don't see it yet, but he's easily one of the two or three guys I had the hardest time cutting last time around. If he keeps showing up in camp, I may not be able to leave him off the next projection.