It was just a little over a year ago the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to be targeting running back Donnel Pumphrey with their fourth-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Eagles pulled a fast one and traded up to snatch Pumphrey away one pick ahead of when the Cowboys were slotted to pick 133rd overall.
The Dallas Cowboys had to settle for their fallback option, Ryan Switzer, who unfortunately only lasted one season before being traded to the Oakland Raiders. Switzer's career is now over in Dallas, but the Cowboys could have a second chance at acquiring their original target, Donnel Pumphrey.
As things stand right now, Pumphrey is still technically a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. There is really no indication the Eagles have given up on him yet, but he currently finds himself buried pretty deep on their depth chart. It's not unreasonable to believe he only lasts one year in Philadelphia, much like Ryan Switzer with the Cowboys.
Pumphrey is really going to have to impress in order to stick with the Eagles, and I just find it hard to believe he's able to do that with the current depth they have at the position. At best, he is probably fourth right now on the depth chart behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and recently re-signed Darren Sproles.
Unfortunately for Pumphrey, he could fall even further. The Eagles also still have Wendell Smallwood, signed free-agent Matt Jones (formerly of the Washington Redskins), and added former Notre Dame RB Josh Adams as an undrafted free agent. It definitely looks as if the second-year RB is on the outside looking in.
That could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys if they are still interested in Donnel Pumphrey. If he is indeed released, they could claim him off of waivers. They aren't very high on the waiver wire, but not many teams are looking for a "specialty" back.
The Dallas Cowboys have been trying to find another Lance Dunbar type RB for a while now and Pumphrey would fit that role to a T. He is on the small side at just 5'9" and 176 pounds, but he is more than capable of being a dual threat/complementary running back in the Cowboys offense.
Of course, the Dallas Cowboys may have already filled that role when they acquired Tavon Austin via trade with the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft. This could squash any interest they may have had in Donnel Pumphrey, but I wouldn't be so sure.
Tavon Austin is basically on a one-year rental unless the Cowboys decide to offer him a contract extension. That could possibly keep Pumphrey in play because he would not only be younger, but cheaper in the end.
I know I'm probably grasping a little bit here, but I could see the Dallas Cowboys seriously considering trying to acquire Donnel Pumphrey if the Philadelphia Eagles are moving on from the young RB. They could end up with the player they originally targeted in the fourth-round in 2017.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys would have any interest in Donnel Pumphrey?
Is Jeff Heath Set for Cowboys Captaincy in 2018?
For a young team in the NFL such as the Dallas Cowboys, captaincy is an important deal. Even more with Jason Witten, arguably the most important leader during his time in Dallas, recently retiring. Two of the 2017 Cowboys' captains are gone, leaving two vacancies up for grabs next season.
Who will take Jason Witten and Orlando Scandrick's spots?
There are a few names to keep in mind, specially along the offensive line. However, there's a name Cowboys Nation shouldn't underestimate and who could very well be wearing a "C" on his jersey once the season starts.
Five-year veteran Safety Jeff Heath is a likely starter for the Cowboys' defense in 2018. Although it seems like a position of need for the team, the front office decided not to draft any more safeties neither did they signed one of the veteran ones available in free agency. Clearly, they trust the players they have in the defensive backs room. Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier will all fight for starting roles.
It's fair to say Jeff Heath is a decent starter. It's also fair to say he isn't great. However, after playing in 84% of the defensive snaps last year and doing a decent job at it, I'm betting on Heath not only being the team's starting safety come September, but being a team captain in the meantime.
Usually, captains in NFL teams are above-average players. Guys like Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Dak Prescott in the case of the Dallas Cowboys. Heath still has a lot to prove, but Cowboys Nation shouldn't be surprised if he is a captain in 2018.
Clearly, there's something about #38 that makes him an important guy for the team. As fans who can't see what's going on beyond the playing field and inside the locker room, we might never know specifically what makes him special, but he seems to be among the Cowboys' leaders.
Let's look at some interesting facts.
During Jason Witten's emotional retirement press conference, the tight end mentions a bunch of young players' names in the room. Among guys like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin, Tyrone Crawford and more, Witten mentions Jeff Heath and tells them: "Now it's your turn to lead."
Coming from Jason Witten, that says a lot. For 15 years, he's probably been the hardest-working player on the team.
Former Cowboy DeMarco Murray recently posted a photo on Instagram bidding farewell to Witten, as many former, current and rookie Cowboys did. However, one thing in particular stuck out from Murray's message, which you can read here.
"Being pushed by you everyday alongside Jeff Heath, Sean Lee and Tony Romo was something no one ever saw, and something I'll never forget." DeMarco Murray.
Heath being named as a player who "pushed" Murray alongside Witten, Lee and Romo definitely comes as a surprise. He might not be a top safety in the league, but realizing that he makes a big impact as a leader is pretty interesting.
In Amazon Prime's "All or Nothing" season finale, a meeting with the Cowboys Leadership Council is shown. In the meeting, Jason Garrett addresses 13 players, including the captains. Jeff Heath is in the room.
While some players may earn the title of "leader" based on on-field production, that probably isn't the case for Heath.
With the Cowboys needing to fill a couple of captain spots for the 2018 season, they might look to make Jeff Heath one of the guys. Hopefully we see his career-best year in a year that desperately needs a safety to step up.
How would you feel if Jeff Heath is a captain next season?
Should Cowboys Pursue Recently Released LB Mychal Kendricks?
After failing to find a trade partner for Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to release the six-year veteran instead. Should the Dallas Cowboys come calling?
Eagles releasing veteran LB Mychal Kendricks, per source. Kendricks spent six years with Eagles; he's not expected to be unemployed long.
As Adam Schefter states, Mychal Kendricks isn't expected to be unemployed very long. It's very rare that someone as talented and consistent as Kendricks hits the open market this late in the offseason, but someone is going to scoop him up pretty quickly.
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use someone of Kendricks pedigree to add to their mix of linebackers in 2018. There are a lot of questions surrounding the position and Kendricks' addition would without a doubt fortify the position moving forward.
Right now, there is only one linebacker whose role is 100% set in stone, Sean Lee. He will once again start on the weak side (WILL), but we all know it probably won't be for an entire season. His struggles to remain healthy are a concern, especially now Anthony Hitchens has moved on.
There are also questions surrounding where Jaylon Smith and the Cowboys rookie first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch will play. Many believe Smith will move to the strong side (SAM) and Vander Esch will start in the middle (MIKE). But, there are still concerns about Smith's health and if Vander Esch is ready to start right away.
That is where Mychal Kendricks would definitely help. I believe he can play all three LB positions in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. And, his starting experience would allow the coaching staff to take the cautious approach with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
I believe the Dallas Cowboys should absolutely be interested in a player of Kendricks caliber, but in the end it's going to come down to money, as it always does. Unfortunately, Kendricks' asking price is probably going to be too steep for the Cowboys.
Dallas has been more frugal with the way they spend their money these past few years. This likely means Cowboys fans shouldn't get their hopes up that Mychal Kendricks will be wearing silver and blue anytime soon. But, it doesn't hurt to pick up the phone to see what it would take to make him a Dallas Cowboy.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys pursue LB Mychal Kendricks?
Dallas Cowboys Position Groups to Watch During OTAs
With the Dallas Cowboys set to begin their Off-season Training Activities (OTAs), there are still some questions to answer about a team trying to improve on a 9-7 record from 2017. There has been a lot of noise this offseason from The Star related to the Cowboys transaction wire, but during the draft is where you saw your favorite team make the most dramatic improvement.
As we get ready for OTAs, let's look at the most intriguing position groups to watch during the preseason for the Dallas Cowboys.
With the addition of Kris Richard and immediate move of Byron Jones to cornerback, this defensive backfield is the group of players I'm most excited to see this season. Richard brings an energy that is contagious. If you watched the draft via DallasCowboys.com's The Draft Show, you got to see the excitement Kris Richard brings to the room.
Everyone from Rod Marinelli to Byron Jones has raved about Richard as a coach and person, but the thing that's exciting to me is the style that Richard is bringing from his days in Seattle.
Bringing an aggressive and in-your-face style to the coverage unit, Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis are going to be unleashed on NFL wide receivers. Those three bring some fight and edge to their game that will leave Cowboys Nation thoroughly satisfied.
No longer will we be screaming at our televisions because the corners are playing 10 yards off the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 5.
The players on the team have heard the message from Rod Marinelli about creating turnovers. Now they have a passing game coordinator asking them to be aggressive even before the football is snapped. Not allowing wide receivers much room will allow the corners to make more plays on the football.
I believe this is the year we see the Dallas Cowboys take a step forward in the interception department. The DB group may not have the skins on the wall that the "Legion of Boom" does, but they have the potential to be that good.
This group brings a lot of intrigue with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch.
For two years we've been following along as Jaylon Smith has been recovering from the devastating knee injury he suffered in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. After an up and down 2017, where he still required the use of a brace for foot drop, Jaylon has been working out this offseason without the brace. Word is he's continuing to progress in the health of his knee and the feeling in his foot.
All good things for the most optimistic NFL player ever.
Getting another year of Sean Lee should have Cowboys fans optimistic as well, though we're never sure what we're gonna get from the former All-Pro. The only thing that has ever held Sean Lee back is his ability to stay on the field. Hopefully this year The General gets a little bit of injury good luck on his side.
The Dallas Cowboys were 2-1 before losing back to back games in which the offense scored 30 points against the Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers. Had they split those two games, the team is probably 6-2 at the midway point. Even with a similar record in the second half, that puts them at 10-6 on the season and probably in the playoffs.
Sean Lee is a huge difference maker on this defense and they've potentially found some insurance if Lee isn't able to play 16 games in 2018 with their first round pick, Leighton Vander Esch.
Vander Esch out of Boise State University, may not be the most physical player in this year's rookie class, but if you watch some of his work in college, the thing that's evident is the kid has a knack for coverage.
You never know what a rookie is going to bring to the table until you see them with the pads on and in real games, but LVE certainly has the ability to be a difference maker. Coverage is as much about instincts and athletic ability as it is about technique and preparation, and Vander Esch has the instincts and athletic ability covered.
I'd bet that he and Jaylon rotate snaps at MLB with LVE being the second linebacker on passing downs next to Lee. We may see them line up in more 3-3-5 formations during passing situations. This is where they go with three defensive lineman, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. A formation like this allows them to mix up who the fourth rusher is and where they are coming from.
Lee, Smith, and Vander Esch all have proven rushing ability that could make for some fun packages deployed by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Now with better depth at each level of the defense, the personnel combinations are endless. However they deploy this trio is going to create problems for opposing defenses.
Coke Beasley, Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns are the only wide receivers with skins on the wall on the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver depth chart. Aside from Hurns' 1,000-yard season in 2016 and Beasley's Cowboys-leading 2016, the skins are pretty thin.
Now, considering Terrance Williams' recent run in with the law, his status with the team could be in jeopardy depending on what the NFL decides to do. They could suspend him under the personal conduct policy which would allow Dallas some cap relief if they were to release him.
If he isn't suspended, he'll be with the team as it will cost the Dallas Cowboys money to cut him. Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie took a detailed look at Terrance Williams' contract status with the team.
With Michael Gallup's selection at pick 81 in this year's draft, the Dallas Cowboys have begun overhauling their wide receiver group. Gallup has a chance to assert himself early and carve out a role as soon as week one, especially if Williams is suspended and/or released.
They don't have Jason Witten or Dez Bryant to lean on -- it's arguable if they could lean on them last year -- and will be deploying players who have a knack for getting open.
Seeing how the coaching staff deploys the wide receivers during OTAs will give us a hint at what the week one starting lineup looks like.
This doesn't even begin to touch on the addition of Sanjay Lal, whose philosophy is for guys to get open if they want the ball. Imagine every wide receiver on the roster being able to get open with Cole Beasley's type of efficiency...
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There are still some questions to be answered, like tight end, the defensive tackle deployment, or -- for pure entertainment purposes -- the offensive line with second-round pick Connor Williams inserted in the lineup. There are several intriguing position groups to watch during the preseason, but these are the positions I'm most interested in following during OTAs and training camp.
What will you be watching for?
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