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Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Before Terrance Williams signed a new four-year contract this year, it seemed like wide receiver was a top need for the Cowboys. Fortunately, he surprised us all by staying in Dallas. Brice Butler had already signed a one year deal with the team, and the Cowboys drafted rookies Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown in the NFL Draft. So it is fair to say, things are looking good for this position in Dallas.

But, what will the WR group look like when all the roster cuts have been made? If you read my weekly Spanish series, you may have read my roster projection. In it I had six spots taken by wide receivers.

This is what it looked like:

Bryant, Williams, Beasley and Switzer are guaranteed. The first three for obvious reasons, and Ryan Switzer was a fourth round pick so it’s safe to say he’ll make the roster.

I don’t see Lucky Whitehead making the roster though. Switzer will be this team’s returner and I am sure he’ll run jet sweeps if he is asked to. The only difference will be that he’ll catch the ball too!

Supposing Lucky is cut, Noah Brown and Brice Butler will fight for a spot. If Noah Brown ends up being the steal a lot of scouts and analysts think he was, the Cowboys would have to decide between these two.

Butler did a decent job replacing an injured Dez Bryant as the team’s “X” receiver last season, so I would argue that he is a legitimate contender for the final spot.

The Cowboys will need to decide between options A and B. Or, they could go with option C and keep both. However, going long in a certain position means going short on others.  The question becomes…

Could The Cowboys Keep Six Wide Receivers? 2

Sep 17, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Noah Brown (80) cannot make a catch as Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Jordan Thomas (7) defends during the second half at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Where will the sixth spot come from?

Here are the three most likely options, in my opinion.

Tight end: Instead of carrying four tight ends, it is likely to see the team going ahead with just three. Who will back up veteran Jason Witten? The Cowboys seem to be confident in Rico Gathers seeing the field this year and Geoff Swaim did a good job before suffering an injury last season.

Then there’s James Hanna, who was never active during the 2016 season. Besides, he wouldn’t be a tough cut to make. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team moves on with just three TEs and says goodbye to Hanna.

Could The Cowboys Keep Six Wide Receivers?

Offensive line: There is no doubt that the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is the strongest unit on the team. They’ll probably keep nine offensive linemen when the season begins. But, with La’el Collins getting some snaps at right tackle, it is possible they decide to go short here; carry eight players instead of nine.

If Collins starts at RT, that would likely mean Jonathan Cooper starts at left guard, meaning that Chaz Green and Emmett Cleary would be on the bench.

Byron Bell would have a tough task in front of him to earn a roster spot if this is the case. If he is cut, there’s a higher chance of seeing both Noah Brown and Brice Butler wear the Star this year.

Could The Cowboys Keep Six Wide Receivers? 1

Linebacker: This is probably the least probable of the three. Suppose Jaylon Smith’s health is better than good and the Cowboys can confidently count on him to play without a problem. If this is the case I can see the Cowboys going short at LB with just six guys.

It all hinges on Smith to try to determine how the linebacker group will look next season, but I’ll take the optimistic route for now.

Would you like to see both Butler and Brown on the team next season?

Let us know 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  live show Primero Cowboys!

Tell me what you think about “Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?” 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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I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve been rooting for America’s team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I’m in… You’ll find me at @PepoR99.

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7 Comments
  • Donny Cook

    I think Noah Brown takes over for Butlar and Butlar is cut, Butlar missed very catch able balls, and those are just inexcusable

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      That would make sense, of course. If Noah Brown stays Butler is gone.

  • Randy Martin

    I’m sorry Mauricio but saying Butler did a decent job replacing Dez Bryant is a joke! I am tired of people trying to defend Butler. In the last two seasons he has caught 28 balls on 60 targets. By no standard is that decent. It is a cuttable number. He has concentration lapses, and poor hands. He looks good on the hoof and has great size and speed but in 4 years in the NFL we still talk about his potential. I’m not saying he is going to wash out of the league but I feel almost certain Noah Brown can eclipse that. Please, please give Butler his pink slip!

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Hey Randy! Dropped passes was of course his biggest issue. And while I understand he is very cuttable, he did do a better job than 83 in 2015, at least in my opinion. I like T-Will of course, but not as an X receiver.
      While he is not good, he may be the only backup able to be an X receiver, even if he is not a good one.

      • Randy Martin

        I am certainly not an advocate of T-Will either but he is better than Butler. in 2015, Twill caught 52 of 93 targets for 56% and 3 TD’s. In 2015, Butler caught 12 of 26 for 46% and no TD’s. There is nothing about those numbers that says he is better than Twill. And the contract Twill got over Butler clearly shows the FO likes Twill better. In two seasons in Oakland when they were starving to find receivers, Butler could not win a job and they had nobody at that time. Honestly there is no argument for keeping Butler that has merit other than he is a good team guy. I like him personally but would like him better on somebody else’s team!

  • Travis Diggs

    You don’t carry 6 Receivers just to do it. Brown and Switzer were drafted to replace Whitehead and Butler You carry 5 as usual and keep Andy Jones on the practice squad unless he does something spectacular in preseason

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      If they carry the six it wouldn’t be “just do it” though. Let’s not forget that, even if he is thought of as a steal, Brown is still a seventh round pick. Even though I don’t think it is the most probable thing to happen, it’s still an interesting outcome to think about. I wouldn’t mind keeping the five as you say though, that is very likely to happen. Let’s hope Brown is a steal.

Star Blog

Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right

Kevin Brady

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Months Later, Jaguars Safety Barry Church Wa E

About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles.

Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right.

Brian Chojnacki on Twitter

Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy

This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off.

On the road.

Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game.

The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come.

With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions.

The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters.

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