The Dallas Cowboys have welcomed their rookies to training camp which began July 19th, inside The Star in Frisco, Texas. This means we’re not far off from opening ceremonies of training camp 2017 which starts on July 24th.
With the preseason nigh upon us, that means we can begin the “process” of predicting how the 2017 NFL Season is going to turn out.
With that, here are five bold predictions for the Dallas Cowboys 2017 training camp.
1. Noah Brown is the WR Darling of Training Camp
Whether it was Andy Jones in 2016 or Devin Street in 2014 and 2015, the story is the same every year.
Some unknown wide receiver makes a lot of plays against second and third team players (who aren’t going to be on the roster) and Twitter and Cowboys sites go ablaze predicting their future stardom.
You can read Sean Martin’s post-draft scouting report on Noah Brown.
This year it’s going to be Noah Brown. While Brown arguably has an outside shot to make the 53 man roster out of training camp, it’s likely as the 6th wide receiver and will be more of a result of his blocking ability than his receiving ability. Cause let’s be honest. Who on the depth chart is Brown going to displace?
Not Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, or Ryan Switzer. He might have a shot to knock Brice Butler off the roster, but it’s likely that Dallas brought Butler back for quarterback Dak Prescott. Don’t forget how important continuity is.
Brown has ability and can make plays. Just check the highlights from Ohio State’s game against Oklahoma last year — sad face. He was unreal. There was a reason, though, that he was drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has some things to work on.
Going against 2nd and 3rd team players are going to give Cowboys fans a lot of excitement.
2. Kellen Moore Silences His Critics
You may have noticed a trend here at Inside The Star. We don’t like the Cowboys prospects if any meaningful games need to be played by Kellen Moore.
I really don’t think a successful preseason will cement #KelMo’s status as the career backup to Dak Prescott, but it will definitely silence people like me.
See what I wrote about Kellen Moore when I asked Who’s Already Locked Up a Spot on the 53 Man Roster?
I don’t think he’s good enough to play in the NFL.
I’ve said as much several times.
That said, he will probably play well enough in the preseason against backups to maintain his hold on the depth chart. He’ll get a chance to throw to Ryan Switzer, Brice Butler, and Noah Brown and behind a decent offensive line too.
If he is ever going to show that he belongs in the NFL, now is the time to do it. The Dallas Cowboys need to solidify their backup quarterback position and with Kellen’s age, he can likely be that guy for the next decade.
3. Rico Gathers is Ready to Roll
Since the Cowboys made Rico Gathers their 6th round pick in 2016, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the former Baylor basketball standout.
With the size of a defensive end and the hands and athleticism to play tight end, Cowboys Nation has been eager and excited to see what the big man has to offer.
With depth at tight end a question mark, now is as good a time as any to realize that potential that has everyone dreaming of Rico in the red zone.
Blocking will be the biggest key to Gathers making the roster and having an impact during games. Now with a full offseason in the Dallas Cowboys program, and having spent much of last year working with Tony Romo on the scout team, Gathers should be ready to make an impact.
He isn’t going to supplant Jason Witten on the depth chart. That just isn’t going to happen, but he could provide the stability that has been lacking with injuries to James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.
Get ready, because this preseason will be the one we all look back on and say, “that’s when Rico became Rico.”
4. Jaylon Smith Starts Season on the PUP List
As excited as we all are about the prospects of former All-American linebacker Jaylon Smith making an impact on the defense, the reality is he’s a valuable resource that the team shouldn’t rush onto the field.
Brian Martin talked about the progress that Smith has made this offseason and the new brace that he’s wearing.
Like Marcus Mosher–from Locked on Cowboys and Bleacher Report–tweeted the other day, there’s no reason to rush him to the field if he isn’t 100%. Let him continue to improve and get healthier before bringing him back.
Getting Jaylon at 100% come playoff time will be a huge lift to the defense.
5. Alfred Morris is a Cut-Down Day Casualty
As excited as we all were about Alfred Morris’ signing last offseason, it’s been met with an equal amount of disappointment. Outside of the first game or two when Ezekiel Elliott seemed to be trying to find his NFL legs, Morris was pretty underwhelming in his first season in Dallas.
Every statistical category was a career low for Morris; carries, yards, touchdowns, and receptions were all disappointing. The category that is the most troubling, however, is his yards per carry. 3.1 represented a career low for the now six-year pro.
Behind what is considered, at the very least, a top-five offensive line in the NFL that featured the league leader in rushing yards, Morris should have been better.
If no suspension befalls Ezekiel Elliott, I could see the Cowboys going in a different direction with their third running back. Someone like Rod Smith offers more athleticism and versatility, while also playing special teams.
As much as we all wanted Morris to be the guy that ran for over 1,000 yards his rookie season, he just hasn’t been that guy. To me the writing’s on the wall.