You know, it's funny how just two regular-season games can change your entire perception of the depth chart for the Dallas Cowboys.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that two games into the 2016 season has completely shaken up the Cowboys depth chart, but I do think it has impacted how we should look at the wide receiver position.
I think that we can all agree that Dez Bryant sits atop the depth chart, with Terrance Williams filling in as the #2 WR playing opposite him. At least, that's what we all probably predicted heading into the season, but it looks like the Cowboys offense has a new #2 WR now.
It is the Cowboys diminutive WR Cole Beasley, who has scratched and clawed his way up the depth chart and established himself as the most reliable receiver through the first two games.
It's simply amazing the chemistry that Beasley has been able to develop with rookie quarterback Dak Prescott so early in the season. When Prescott needs to pick up a first down or get rid of the ball quickly, he usually looks in the direction of Beasley and has been successful more times than not.
The Beasley and Prescott connection has been working so well, that it is starting to have an impact in the fantasy world as well, especially in those points per reception (PPR) leagues.
"In the first two games of the season, Cole Beasley has been targeted 18 times, has 13 catches, a 72.2% catch rate, and 140 yards receiving. He is the outright leader in every category aside from targets, which he shares with Jason Witten."
"Cole Beasley and Dak Prescott have developed a rapport and Beasley has become a legit number two wide receiver on this team."
The facts certainly speak for themselves and Cole Beasley has definitely moved up the depth chart behind Dez Bryant as the teams number two wide receiver.
Beasley's 13 receptions for 140 receiving yards has him on pace for 104 catches and 1,120 yards for the 2016 season. That's Crazy!
By the way, if you need any fantasy football advice, I would definitely advise you to hit up John Williams on twitter @john9williams. He knows his stuff and he could possibly be the reason why you win your league this year.
Sorry to get a little off-topic there for second, but I thought John Williams deserves a shout out for all of the work he puts in each week giving fantasy football advice.
Getting back on topic though, debating who has established themselves as the number two wide receiver on the Cowboys offense should really fall into the category of a non-discussion.
Cole Beasley has vastly outperformed Terrance Williams the first two games of the 2016 season. In fact, if you need even more evidence, then I suggest you factor in Williams wasn't even targeted one single time in the Washington Redskins game.
To put things bluntly, Cole Beasley has not only establish himself as the #2 wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, but made all of the other WRs on the roster somewhat obsolete, with the exception Dez Bryant of course.
It's still early in the 2016 season, and Terrance Williams could absolutely reestablish himself as the Dallas Cowboys number two wide receiver. But, as things stand right now it's Beasley that has earned that honor.
Do you agree that Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys' real #2 WR?
Let me hear what you think in the comment section below.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
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