The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of questions to answer as they move through their 2020 training camp. One of them is at wide receiver; just who will be serving as the backups behind Dallas' talented trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb?
Today I'm going to present the list of contenders for those last spots on the depth chart. I have them ranked in the order where I would assume they currently fall in the minds of the Cowboys' coaches and front office. However, that could certainly change over the next few weeks.
Remember, this is just for those 2-4 depth spots. We all know who the top three are and it's not remotely up for debate.
Cowboys WR Depth Power Rankings
- Cedrick Wilson
- Devin Smith
- Noah Brown & Ventell Bryant (tie)
- Jon'Vea Johnson
- Tevin Jones
- Aaron Parker & Kendrick Rogers (tie)
Some of the logic here should be obvious. Parker and Rogers, while they offer some intrigue, are still undrafted rookies that have to work their way up from the bottom. They'll find it even more challenging than usual with all of the missed practice time this summer due to COVID-19.
Tevin Jones is a 27-year-old prospect who was added to Dallas' practice squad late December. He's been in the league four years already so his upside is limited, but the Cowboys liked him enough to let him compete in 2020.
Jon'Vea Johnson could've been the top name on this list if he'd carried over his 2019 hype from camp into the preseason and beyond. But that opportunity was blown by dropped passes in the exhibition games, leading to Johnson spending the year on the practice squad. Still, if he can find his groove again, Jon'Vea could contend for a roster spot.
Before he gets that chance, though, Johnson will need to get off the reserve/COVID-19 list and rejoin the team in training camp. He better hope that happens sooner than later if he doesn't want to fall behind.
Right now the four guys who seem most competitive for roster spots are Cedrick Wilson, Devin Smith, Noah Brown, and Ventell Bryant. Two of them, Brown and Bryant, are very similar players and are likely competing with each other for a role.
Both Noah and Ventell are bigger receivers with blocking and special teams skills. Dallas probably doesn't sign Bryant last September if Brown hadn't been on the PUP list. Now both will be in camp and hoping to outshine the other.
The other big competition will be between Wilson and Smith for the fourth spot on the WR depth chart. Smith had it to start 2019 but disappeared after the first few weeks. Wilson got called up from the practice squad and was seeing work as the punt returner by the end of the season, plus making some solid plays in a limited offensive role.
I think Cedrick has the edge right now because of special teams value; the current front-runner to be the primary punt returner in 2020. That will almost guarantee him active status every week if it holds true.
Devin Smith is in a far more precarious position. If he doesn't clearly beat out Wilson and all others for the WR4 spot, Smith offers no special teams value and probably doesn't make the team at all. Dallas would likely go with Cedrick and then either Brown or Bryant, perhaps only keeping five total receivers at that point.
Remember, this is just a projection of the landscape heading into training camp. Nobody here stands that tall above his competition; anyone from the undrafted rookies on up has a chance to make the team.
This is one of the more interesting positions to track as we go through the Cowboys' 2020 camp. While the top of the depth chart is locked in place, at least 2-3 positions below are up for grabs and the practice squad beyond that. There's an intriguing mix of returning players and fresh faces all vying for these jobs.
We'll check back in soon to see how players' stocks have gone up or down as the first reports come back from practices.