Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys' leading receiver after three games. He has the most targets, catches, and yards. The one thing he hasn't done is find the endzone, but you can say that about every Dallas receiver except for Dez Bryant.
Here is a quick look at the Cowboys' key receiving stats so far in 2016:
It's not hard to see why Beasley has emerged as Dak Prescott's favorite target. They have an 80% completion percentage together, compared to roughly 50% between Dak and Dez.
Not only does Beasley get open but his slippery running leads to extra yards after the catch. Other than a dropped pass in Week One that would've likely resulted in a touchdown, Cole Beasley has provided little to complain about so far this year.
The question now is if Beasley's team-leading production is anomalous or the beginning of lasting change. Is he emerging as the team's number-one receiver?
It feels like a time of change with this Cowboys offense. Dak Prescott is making people wonder if Tony Romo will ever get his job back. Ezekiel Elliott has taken over the running back position and will likely hold it for many years to come. Although still an effective player, Jason Witten won't be around much longer.
If Cole Beasley's production sticks then it will put him in a rare class of highly-effective, undersized, white receivers. Two of the best-known examples have come from the New England Patriots; Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.
It won't be the first similarity between the 2016 Cowboys and New England.
The comparison between Prescott and Tom Brady has already been drawn by multiple sources. Stephen Jones commented on the Prescott-Romo situation's similarity to Brady-Drew Bledsoe. Conditioning coach Mike Woicik, who also worked for the Patriots during Brady's tenure, said that Prescott and Brady had similar off-field habits.
From 2007-2012, Wes Welker led the Patriots in catches. Those first three years were with Randy Moss on the roster and playing at a high level. Still, Welker was Brady's favorite target.
In 2013, Welker left as a free agent and Julian Edelman took over as Brady's number-one guy. He led them team in catches for two years. Last season he missed seven games but still had the most catches-per-game of any Patriots receiver, including Rob Gronkowski.
For a while it seems like the game was leaving these smaller receivers behind. Calvin Johnson was an extreme example but bigger guys like Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Julio Jones felt like the new blueprint for NFL receivers. The success of guys like Welker and Edelman seemed just a funny outlier, unique to the Patriots system.
Things have shifted in recent years. Antonio Brown, at just 5'10", is the best WR in the game. Odell Beckham Jr. is only 5'11" and perhaps the biggest star at his position. Edelman remains the top guy in New England, no matter how unstoppable The Gronk may be.
Obviously, Cole Beasley would be a far more extreme example of this new trend. He is only 5'8" and about as small as an effective football player can be.
For now, though, he is proving that skill is far bigger than size.
With Dez Bryant likely missing time after a small fracture in his knee, or at least being limited on the field, we will see if Beasley can remain effective without Dez's presence. Will defenses now be able to take Beasley away from Dak Prescott?
If they can't, then it will be hard to deny that Cole Beasley has emerged as more than just an option in this Cowboys offense. We may have to start talking about him in much more respectful terms.
The other test will come if and when Tony Romo returns to the starting lineup. Will Tony look for Beasley the same way that Prescott has, or will he still defer to Jason Witten and Bryant?
Tony's been on the sideline watching as Beasley has been so productive. The ways that Beasley gets open fit well with Romo's playing style. I don't think the chemistry will be very different than what Beasley has now with Prescott.
Though currently on pace to do so, I doubt Beasley hits 100 catches this year. There will be a few quiet weeks that hold him back. Still, the 80-90 range for cacthes seems likely. With Bryant now hurt and Witten declining, Cole Beasley is likely to lead the team this year.
If so, he will join that Wes Welker, Julian Edelman company of receivers who defy the odds in more ways than one.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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