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Cowboys Film Review: UDFA Center Jake Brendel

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Film Review: Cowboys Center Jake Brendel 1

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the happenings of the NFL understands one thing; the Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in football.

Maybe a team such as the Oakland Raiders could challenge for their spot, but I doubt it. It's pretty clear to most how great this offensive line is in Dallas, with three All-Pro quality players and another one (La'el Collins) in the making.

However, as is the case with most teams, depth behind these five starters is a problem. I recently detailed the swing tackle problem which faces the Cowboys, but on the interior line it's not much better.

Sure, guard Ronald Leary has proven to be a legitimate starter in this league, but being as disgruntled as he is about his current role it's fair to ask if he is even willing to be just a backup. The odds are Leary wouldn't even be active for regular season games as it is, due to his lack of position versatility and inability to play center.

The importance of a reliable and smart backup interior offensive lineman cannot be understated, and the Cowboys might have found just this in undrafted free agent Jake Brendel.

A four year starter at UCLA, Brendel is the all time leader in starts for the school with 52. Being a four year starter on the offensive line is damn-near unheard of as it is, but starting a total of 52 games over those four years is simply incredible.

Aside from one game in 2014 where he was forced to miss with a knee injury, Brendel started every single UCLA football game from 2012-2015. Brendel was also named team captain in 2013, and remained captain until graduation. That's right, he was voted team captain as a sophomore, wow.

Brendel was also named first team Academic All-Conference, and second team All-Pac-12 during his junior and senior seasons.

Maybe I am overstating his reliability and leadership qualities, after all he is just an undrafted free agent. With all of these positive character qualities, you would expect teams to find any reasons they can to fit him into their draft board.

While this is true, most of Brendel's on-field troubles come from a lack of lower body, functional strength. His average lower body movements lead to a loss of balance, and his lack of functional strength stops him from re-establishing position with his feet and hands. When all of this comes together, you end up with either a missed block or a holding penalty. In other words, it can be a big problem.

Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game

Make or find animated gifs like Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game on gifs.com

Here we see why that lack of strength is an issue. He is immediately stood up after snapping the ball, and is unable to get any type of movement on the down-lineman. Then, he loses his balance a bit and gets beat across his face. You can never get beat across your face.

What Brendel lacks in brute strength and power he was able to make up in quickness and hand placement while at UCLA. He may not be able to push those big 1-tecnhqiues a few yards off the ball, but he is quick and smart enough to be in the right position to occupy and shield the defender from the running back.

Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game

Make or find animated gifs like Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game on gifs.com

Here is that quickness I am referring to. Brendel gets off the ball with a purpose, gets the right positioning on the defensive lineman, and does just enough to clear a path for a touchdown. No, it isn't a La'el Collins-esque pancake, but it is effective.

Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game

Make or find animated gifs like Jake Brendel - UCLA Football - C - 2015 BYU Game on gifs.com

These are the plays where his smarts come into play. He recognizes the blitzing linebacker and the stunting defensive lineman, remains patient, and makes the block.

He also served as an effective pulling center at times, showing me that he could transition to guard if needed.

The smarts, reliability, and toughness of a kid like Brendel are very appealing. Being named captain as a sophomore, we can assume he is a strong locker room presence, and the kind of player that Jason Garrett would adore.

With all that being said, I simply don't know if Brendel can match up physically with NFL defensive lineman. While he can develop more strength and improve his power and punch, it is impossible to say if it will be enough to keep him in the league for any serious amount of time.

Regardless, Brendel is still a player you should keep an eye out for during training camp and preseason games.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Jason Witten’s Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

Sean Martin

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Cowboys 2016 Draft Class: Who Will Be The Stand Out In 2017?
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

When Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten retired from the NFL last month, he left behind an unproven group of tight ends for the Cowboys to field as Witten moves on to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth. This is not a TE group short of potential, although that's nothing new for the laundry list of players that have failed at the position behind the Hall of Fame bound Witten.

Headlining this group of potential heirs to Witten has to be 2016 draft pick Rico Gathers. Not yet given the same opportunities that Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are receiving through the Cowboys ongoing mini camp, Gathers has been criticized for his commitment to his team.

Looking to make the transition from the basketball court at Baylor to the football field, Gathers' journey began at Witten's soon-to-be home forever. Playing his first organized football game since middle school, Gathers and Witten were teammates in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio in 2017.

A game rarely leaving fans with a lasting memories, Gathers immediately flashed potential in the passing game, hauling in three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Gathers would go on to spend the season on IR after a concussion suffered in practice, recovering from it in time to return but never seeing the field.

This leaves Gathers' prospects of putting it all together in year three at a difficult crossroads. It will be hard to question Gathers' commitment moving forward, as the message from his former teammate Jason Witten still lives with him.

Jason Witten's Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

If Witten truly sees a "bright future" for Rico Gathers, who Head Coach Jason Garrett says needs work in the running game, there is no reason the Cowboys can't find a role for him this season. With an entirely unproven group of wide receivers, Gathers could be the reliable mismatch for Dak Prescott to target in the middle of the field.

Prescott was the ninth worst quarterback in the league last season in red zone completion percentage, surely something the 6'6" TE Gathers could help improve.

Gathers may be a long way off from becoming Prescott's version of Witten to Tony Romo, but there is still hope for the 2016 draft pick, according to now football analyst Jason Witten.

Tell us what you think about "Jason Witten’s Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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David Irving to be Present at Dallas Cowboys Minicamp

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving

David Irving has been a notable name throughout the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys, for both on the field and off the field headlines. First, his RFA tender had fans and analysts wondering just what the Cowboys would do with him. Many, myself included, thought placing anything lower than a first-round tender on the stud defensive tackle would mean he was collecting sacks for someone else in 2018.

Thankfully, the Dallas Cowboys' gamble paid off and they were able to save some money by only having the second-round tender applied to 2018.

Then came the accusation of domestic violence from his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, catching us off-guard just before OTAs began in May. Which was then retracted not long after the initial report.

After all of that had quieted down, most of the talk revolved around David Irving not being in shape for OTAs. Not having been around for much of the offseason work the last several weeks before OTAs would keep Irving from working out.

He's had a lot going on in his life lately away from the game of football, and understandably so. As a father to a young child, I can see how you'd get distracted from your job when family stuff comes into play that affects the well-being of your child.

On the football side of things, at least, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Today, it's being reported that David Irving will in fact be present for this week's mandatory minicamp.

Brandon George on Twitter

Also, the Cowboys expect DL David Irving to participate in the 3-day mandatory minicamp that begins today at The Star, a source said. The Cowboys could have both Irving and RG Zack Martin back on the practice field if Martin's contract extension gets finalized this morning.

You may be asking yourself, "what's the big deal? Irving isn't Aaron Donald."

Well, you're mostly right.

Perhaps next to Donald, David Irving was the most disruptive interior player in the NFL last season. David Irving had seven sacks in the eight games he played in.

Read that again. Seven sacks in eight games. That would be 14 sacks over the course of the season if that pace were to continue to play out.

Aaron Donald had 11 sacks in 2017.

Pro Football Focus rated David Irving as its third best pass rusher among interior defensive linemen.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Dominant interior defenders.

To go along with Irving's seven sacks in eight games -- every time I read that I'm floored -- he recorded six passes defended. That was good for second in the NFL at the defensive tackle position and was second on the Dallas Cowboys.

Again, in only eight games played.

Even if you were to pace out his tackle numbers over 16 games, they aren't very spectacular -- 26 solo and 18 assisted -- but he'd still finish in the top 30 among defensive tackles.

Only two other players in the NFL had seven or more sacks and six or more pass breakups; New Orleans Saints Defensive End Cameron Jordan and Cincinnati Bengals Defensive End Carlos Dunlap. Both of those guys played in all 16 games and, while I hate to keep bringing this up, Irving only played in eight.

He's an elite interior defender who has only gotten better since joining Rod Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys.

If he's able to get his personal life in order -- and that most assuredly comes first -- he's going to be a wrecking ball for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line.

Getting Zack Martin's contract extension completed was probably the most important task of the summer, but getting David Irving back into the practice fold is a close second.

With him and DeMarcus Lawrence coming off a tremendous 2017, the sky is the limit for those two in 2018.

With all the improvement that was made on the defensive side of the ball, I can't help but think of the sign that Greg Hardy paid for several years ago.

"Sacks Comin'."



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