Since I believe the biggest need this off-season for the Cowboys is at safety, I'm going to offer my breakdown of the players we currently have on the roster.
Roy Williams -
I know, obvious first pick, but Williams is coming off his seventh year in the league and deserves first mention. After all, he has been a safety on the Cowboys roster longer than any other safety here.
Sad to say though, that after Woodson retired, Williams has done little else to warrant first mention, anywhere.
He missed most of 2008 after breaking his forearm not once, but twice, and landed on IR. Many will still agree now, as we did then, that him being injured actually solved the problem of how to limit his liability on the field in coverage.
I think he still has talent, but he doesn't seem to keep his head in a game and loses focus, which leads to mistakes in all aspects of his game. If Campo, having a full season and two off-seasons to get Williams thinking like a football player again, then I say he stays. But he'd have to really wow the coaches and Jerry Jones in order to justify his salary for the year.
If he takes a pay cut, I say he stays here, but only if he takes a pay cut. I don't see him giving up enough money for the Cowboys to keep him. Personally, I'd like to see him take a shot at middle linebacker, especially if Thomas and/or Burnett leave. If his biggest weakness is coverage, then put him in a position with less coverage duties. Might work, worth a shot at least.
But overall, I don't see Roy Williams having a big future on the Dallas defense.
Keith Davis -
What can you say about this guy? He's got heart, and he's about as tough as they come; fighting through a third degree sprain in his knee to at least try to play the season finale. He did get hurt in that game, but it took more than a down or series to bring him out.
Coming back from the Dolphins in 2008, he was immediately named a team captain, a role he had assumed before. His drive exceeds his ability in many ways, but it all seems to level out on the playing field. As a safety he isn't the best we could get, he might not even be the best we have, but on special teams he is a monster and should be retained.
The Cowboys will get Davis resigned, and he should be willing now after seeing how loyal this team is to him.
Ken Hamlin -
In 2007, everyone was ready to dub this guy the next great safety for the Cowboys, and if not for his lacking leadership skills and a couple of missed plays, he might have been. Instead, Jerry gave him the big contract he wanted anyway, and since we haven't seen the same level of play from him.
He's good at getting to the ball, and he isn't easily fooled, of course it's hard to say that after the miss he had in the Baltimore game, but the guy is a good safety when he is playing his best. I don't think age or ability is slowing him down.
He needs to get himself back on track for the 2009 season, to refocus himself on his goals, and the teams goals. If he can get ready to play, I see him making a big impact next year. And if not, there are guys waiting in line behind him for a chance.
Having watched it happen to Williams over two seasons now, he knows that the coaches will make him a two down player if he doesn't improve, and fast.
Tra Battle -
Not a lot of info out there on this guy. He's been signed to practice squads and active rosters a lot, but none of it really stuck.
Thanks to an injury riddled season on defense, we got to see him play and from what I saw, he's got good enough skills to keep him around. I was particularly impressed when he was signed during the week, then on the opening kickoff he makes a very solid tackle on the returner. It caught my eye right away that #35 didn't waste time doing his job.
He looked at times like he could use a little more training, which is why it's good he's in Dallas with Phillips. The system is similar to what he's dealt with at all in his young career, and a full off-season with the team should do him good.
With the issues of depth and performance at safety on this team, I look to see #35 back in blue and silver come training camp.
Pat Watkins -
There isn't much to say about Pat, except that someone needs to show him how to protect himself better. These nagging injuries, while minor, have cost him valuable playing time recently. No doubt a missed opportunity considering the need at safety this year.
He will be back in 2009. He has displayed great upside when healthy, it's just a matter of keeping him healthy for a whole season.
Courtney Brown -
He has also had some injury problems, but nothing too major. He's displayed good quickness when he has played, which has been limited.
Maybe it's because he was a cornerback in college and drafted as such, but the transition to safety hasn't been a smooth one for him. He's a seventh round pick and has offered seventh round production thus far.
Cowboys will likely keep him due to depth concerns at the position, but look mostly to continue grooming him.
And that's it. We head into free agency and the draft with big concerns for the safety positions on this team, concerns that will have to be addresses, especially if Roy Williams is released as many expect.
Anyone have anything to add?
Is 2019 Wide Receiver Group Best Dak Prescott Has Worked With?
Dak Prescott will be leading the Dallas Cowboys offense for the fourth consecutive year in what has been a very unlikely career. In three seasons, he's led the Cowboys to two NFC East titles and one playoff win. He's done so with quality offenses, starting by a strong offensive line and an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott. During his career in Dallas he's had some solid receivers, but he hasn't played with a group as strong as the one he'll have in the upcoming 2019 season.
This year's starters will be headlined by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Although there's many other intriguing players to watch at the position, those three are the presumed starting three.
Despite the big debate among fans and analysts, Prescott has been able to win games for this football team. Perhaps his worst came at the beginning of last season, when the team's plan of not having a WR1 backfired terribly.
In the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, Dak averaged only 202 yards per game. In that span he threw for less than 200 yards in four games. Once the team traded for Cooper, that average rose all the way up to 274 yards per game. He threw for less than 200 yards in only one occasion since then.
Michael Gallup is poised for a breakout season after a rookie season in which he improved every week. The Cowboys' 2018 third-round pick didn't get as much playing time at the beginning of the season as he fought for snaps with Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin among others. In the postseason, Gallup caught six passes for 119 yards. He still has a long way to go, but the talent is clearly there.
As for Randall Cobb, many fans have doubts. He's coming in to replace Cole Beasley, who was such an effective slot wide receiver. Cobb's style will likely be different, and although he might not be as good at shaking defenders off as ol' #11, he'll be more of a downfield threat than Beasley.
Comparing this starting group to the ones from prior years, it really seems like the best Dak Prescott has worked with. During his first couple of years in the league, Dak played with a Dez Bryant that (like it or not) wasn't anywhere close to his peak. 2016-2017 Dez wasn't on last year's Amari Cooper's level. Williams had his moments, but wasn't consistent and was well-known as a body-catcher.
This year's group has its question marks, that's for sure. Randall Cobb hasn't played a full season since 2015 due to injuries and Michael Gallup doesn't have a ton of experience and is yet to breakout. Even still, it seems like Prescott will have a great group of pass-catchers to help him lead the Cowboys to another NFC East title. It'll be an interesting fourth year for the young Cowboys quarterback. It's definitely good to see he'll have help.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be bringing back the same key trip of players at offensive tackle from last year. But with talk that 2019 could be La'el Collins' last season in Dallas, will we see signs that the Cowboys are preparing for future changes in how they handle the position in this year's training camp?
With Tyron Smith as an All-Pro fixture at left tackle, and Cameron Fleming re-signed this offseason to be the swing tackle, the intrigue swirls around Collins and his impending free agency in 2020. If the Cowboys have no intention of paying La'el what he can command on the open market, what might they do now to lay the groundwork for Collins' exit?
Here's a quick look at the projected OT depth chart for 2019 camp:
- Tyron Smith, La'el Collins
- Cam Fleming, Jake Campos
- Mitch Hyatt, Derrick Puni, Brandon Knight
As was just said, the returning top three are locked in to those spots. Campos is a carryover from last year's practice squad, so that experience gives him a potential edge over the three undrafted rookies.
Back to the top, though, and this situation with La'el Collins. If Dallas had Collins locked up for years to come, they would likely only keep the two starters and Fleming as a backup. A fourth OT is unlikely to be active on game days, and they have Guard Connor Williams' college experience as a tackle in case of an emergency.
If the Cowboys are truly thinking that La'el won't be back in 2020, perhaps they use a roster spot now to hang on to a player who they value for depth next year.
This is where undrafted rookie Mitch Hyatt becomes an intriguing figure in this 2019 camp. He comes from a championship college program at Clemson and was projected as a late-round pick this year. Dallas made him a priority free agent signing after the draft.
Of course, Campos, Knight, or Puni have the potential to make some noise as well. But Hyatt would seem to have the most upside of the group, and Dallas might be willing to consider him as a 2020 swing tackle option if he can hit the ground running in camp this year.
Cam Fleming is also going to need to have a strong camp to help the Cowboys' in their strategy. Letting Collins go would be predicated on their comfort level with Fleming as the right tackle next year. If he struggles now, then doesn't get much playing time in the regular season, that would likely shake their confidence.
The final result of all this talk could be that La'el Collins and Dallas actually do figure out a way to continue their relationship. But when the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round of this last draft it felt like a future-pointed move, with Collins' projected departure the likely impetus for the investment.
What we may wind up seeing is McGovern taking over at left guard and allowing Connor Williams to replace Collins at tackle. But that's a discussion better saved for next offseason.
You can read more about La'el Collins impending free agency in this recent article by our own Kevin Brady. A few weeks back, I also discussed the idea that Dallas should trade Collins now rather than lose him as a free agent next year.
For now, the offensive tackles in 2019 should have continuity and stability. But if we really pay attention in this training camp and preseason, we may see signs of what the Cowboys are planning to do at the position in the coming years.
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Randall Cobb Will Be a Different Slot WR for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys signing Randall Cobb might just be the most underrated move of their offseason. For less than five million dollars, they got an experienced wide receiver who is only 28 years old. The former Green Bay Packer has had a solid career wearing green and yellow and now gets the chance to play with the Cowboys' colors. But what can we expect from the veteran wideout?
There are some players who are absolute locks to make the 53-man roster and Cobb is one of them. That much is clear. On the depth chart, he probably sits behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, who will likely be the number one and number two receivers, respectively.
With Cole Beasley departing to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, Cobb is expected to take his place as the offense's starting slot receiver. Cowboys Nation knows very well just how good Beasley was at playing in the slot. His ability to shake defenders off was really impressive and his hands were reliable. However, we might see something different from Cobb.
Yes, it all points toward him playing the same position, but don't expect him to be a Beasley 2.0. This is of course, not a bad thing. Something fans consistently complained about Scott Linehan's offense were the short routes receivers had to run. In Cobb's short time with the Cowboys, we're seeing deeper routes even out of the slot position.
Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com wrote: "the ball to Cobb even playing out of the slot is further down the field. We hadn’t seen that from Cole Beasley and visually it looks different."
This should be exciting for Cowboys fans, specially considering all the positive reviews on new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. What we see from Randall Cobb in 2019 could be very different from what we had seen from Beasley in prior years.
It's also worth mentioning that word is Cobb has quickly developed an important chemistry with his new quarterback, Dak Prescott. Beasley was very important in Prescott's rookie season, when he averaged 52.1 yards per game and accounted for five touchdowns.
While Beasley was an important receiver for Cowboys, he wasn't really known as a team leader. Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper wrote about Cobb's leadership skills will carry on to the team whether he's doing it intentionally or not. It's always good to have such presences out there on the training field to spark the team.
Randall Cobb won't be this team's #1 guy or anything like that, but he will surely contribute every week. When we look back to this offseason, I believe this signing will look like a great move by the Cowboys' front office.
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