The countdown to the 2016 NFL Draft is officially on, as our Cowboys on the Clock series is well underway! If you're just getting started with this post, the concept of the series is that - based on the remaining number of days until the draft - we will take a look at the last player the Cowboys selected with that number's pick in the first round.
So, the last player Dallas selected with the 31st overall pick was Travis Frederick, which gave him the honor of kicking off this series right here. The series then transitioned to our alternate "Beyond the Clock" series, as the Cowboys have never selected with the 30th or 29th overall pick.
Dante will continue this series for each day before the draft that does not correlate with a first round selection for the Cowboys, but we won't have to worry about that for some time.
Larry Bethea brought this series back to the on the clock version, where it will stay this way for some time. He was followed by Byron Jones, and now today we take a look at the Cowboys most recent selection at #26 overall.
The Philadelphia Eagles were on the clock with the 26th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, until Jerry Jones called them up and decided to trade back into the round. Dallas gave up their original first round pick in a trade with the Browns, but saw an opening to make the selection of Anthony Spencer with this newly acquired 26th pick.
Spencer played his college football at Purdue, where he steadily improved in each season. From red shirt freshman to team MVP in his 2006 senior season, Spencer went on to have a very solid career with the Cowboys.
At the time of his selection, the Cowboys were very thin on pass rushers. Outside of the dominant DeMarcus Ware, the only other consistent threat was Greg Ellis. With Ellis recovering from surgery to start the 2007 season, Spencer received a chance to start across from Ware in the team's first four games.
He finished the season appearing in every game, although losing the starting spot to a healthy Ellis later on, and recorded 3 sacks along with 2 forced fumbles.
2009 would mark the next significant point in Spencer's Dallas career, as Ellis was released before the season. Spencer filled his shoes nicely, as he started every game for the next two years while recording 11 sacks in that time.
This concluded the years left on Spencer's rookie contract, but he would play three more seasons in the silver and blue. His extensions began with consecutive franchise tags in 2012 and 2013, before signing a one-year deal in 2014 - his final with the team.
2012 would turn out to be a breakout year for Spencer, as he hit double digit sacks for the first time and made his first Pro Bowl. Still, the team missed the playoffs for the fourth time in his six seasons with the team.
Dallas once again used the franchise tag on Spencer entering 2013, when new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin converted the defensive formation back to a 4-3. Now expected to play at defensive end, Spencer never really got a chance to show his ability at the position this year, as he had season-ending knee surgery following the team's week 2 loss in Kansas City.
Still, Spencer was able to stay with the team for his third playoff appearance in 2014, as he signed a new one year deal in the off season. His recovery from the knee surgery was a concern, but Spencer went on to play in 13 games. While the sack numbers were not there, Spencer will be remembered most from the 2014 season for his play at the end of the Wild Card Playoff round vs the Lions.
This forced fumble should have ended the game, but as you can see DeMarcus Lawrence proceeded to fumble the ball right back to the Lions afterwards. Lawrence made up for it moments later, as he recorded a sack of his own against Stafford that turned the ball over on downs and sent the Cowboys to the Divisional Playoffs.
The following week, the Cowboys pass rush failed to get anything going against Aaron Rodgers, as the team was bounced from the playoffs at Lambeau Field - ending Spencer's career with the Cowboys.
He finished his time in Dallas with 33 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. This past summer, he was named the greatest player to ever wear #93 for the Cowboys by our Staff Writer RJ Ochoa in his "Countdown to Kickoff" series.
The following players have also been selected with the 26th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys:
Bill Thomas, RB, 1974
Thomas never recorded a single carry for the Cowboys, after being their first round selection following a Super Bowl win in the 1972 Draft, due to nagging injuries that dated back to his college days at Boston College.
Howard Richards, G, 1987
Richards' time in Dallas was also plagued by injuries, as he went on to only start 16 games over his 6 seasons with the team. Although the team only missed the playoffs twice during his time as a Cowboy, Richards' never got the chance to play in a Super Bowl. He appeared in two games for the Seahawks in 1987 - his last season in the league.
Up next for "Cowboys on the Clock": 2008 first round pick Mike Jenkins
Want to share you thoughts on this series? Do so with a comment below, tweet to @ShoreSportsNJ, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org! I look forward to hearing from #CowboysNation!
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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