Making nine selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, and trading away one sixth round pick for Tavon Austin, the Cowboys have completely revamped their stagnant offense from 2017. The additions of LG Connor Williams, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, WR Cedrick Wilson, and RB Bo Scarbrough give the Cowboys at least two new starters - with the depth now to deal with backbreaking injuries that forced Dallas out of the playoff picture last season.
Even without cornerstone players in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the Cowboys young core just got even more versatile. This is a stacked offense with countless ways to attack opposing defenses.
Cowboys Nation entered the draft hopeful that just Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott for a full season would be enough to return to form. Perhaps the best part about both third-year players is that Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has proven he knows how to play to their strengths. This Cowboys draft class, featuring mostly "high floor" prospects, strengthened the team's identity on offense even further.
Let's start with Colorado State's Michael Gallup. The Cowboys waited until the 81st overall pick in the draft to address their need at wide receiver, but came away from the weekend with an impressively deep group of pass catchers. Gallup will headline this group as one of the more "Dak-friendly" targets in the entire draft.
Perhaps that is the easy part, although Linehan and new receivers coach Sanjay Lal will have plenty of difficult decisions to make on which WRs make the final Cowboys roster. Michael Gallup is here, and I expect him to be a major contributor all over the field.
With a third round grade on Cedrick Wilson, the sixth round steal out of Boise State should also prove himself nicely in training camp, but it remains to be seen where Wilson can find a role in the Cowboys new-look passing game.
That brings us to the 'bread and butter' of this football team.
A rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott was made even more potent when Connor Williams slid to the hometown Cowboys at 50th overall in the second round.
After modeling his game at Texas after Cowboys Left Tackle Tyron Smith, Williams easily played his way into first round consideration in 2016 before an injury kept him in college for an extra season. Still a top prospect for some, Williams became the fifth guard drafted when the Cowboys made his dream come true.
Dallas is of course a perfect landing spot for the Cowboys new starter between Smith and Center Travis Frederick. Williams carries this team's patented toughness and athleticism up front, and should excel in his transition to guard in opening up running lanes for not only Elliott but Tavon Austin and Bo Scarbrough as well.
This is where Scott Linehan again enters the picture. For the ten games he had Elliott in 2017, Linehan was criticized for not working the Cowboys bell cow RB enough. Particularly in a week 16 loss to the Seahawks, Elliott returned from suspension to touch the ball only 24 times, failing to get much of a rhythm going as the Cowboys faith was sealed inside AT&T Stadium.
Now, a coach even further on the hot seat must balance the Cowboys running game with Elliott and Austin. The Cowboys are excited about what Tavon Austin can do as a runner, as well as a gadget player for Prescott to hit in the spread looks expected to be used more.
From these looks in the passing game, there will also be enough mouths for Linehan to feed. This is a coach the Cowboys will look to for stability on offense (where the majority of their cap space is allocated), shaking things up beneath Linehan by hiring a new OL, WR, and TE coach for 2018.
All three of these units feature at least one new starter, as Dalton Shultz of Stanford should be expected to see the field right away. The Cowboys 137th overall pick can at least provide value early on in his career as a tough run blocker.
Being absolutely stacked on offense is a terrific "problem" for the Cowboys to have, and it feels likely the moves the Cowboys made to achieve this offensive prowess will motivate Linehan to great things in 2018.
The Cowboys have been a prime example of how the NFL changes from year to year though. Another season short of heightened expectations -- at the hands of sub par coaching -- likely causes Linehan to drag other Cowboys staffers with him.
As mentioned, the Cowboys draft class features ready-made players for a team looking to win now. Dallas is of course also building towards the future with such a young roster, as the likes of Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson have high ceilings to go with their present traits.
Whether or not the Cowboys drive back towards the playoffs will be powered by their machine-like offense is up to the man with the keys - play caller Scott Linehan. When discussing the training camp battles to anticipate this summer for starting spots on offense, Linehan's decision making needs to remain something the Cowboys evaluate through to week 1 of the regular season.
Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary
The Dallas Cowboys best move of the offseason may very well be hiring Kris Richard as their new passing game coordinator. Despite not signing any free agents or drafting added talent for Richard to work with in the secondary, the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel great about their current starters - along with an intriguing class of UDFAs.
The prospects of Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones, and Xavier Woods working with Richard to sharpen their skills with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" fabricator is as good as it gets. In a very short period of time, the cornerback position has turned into one of the hardest spots for fringe players to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.
Don't tell this to San Diego State's Kameron Kelly. Neither Richard or Kelly may be household names around the NFL, but San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman certainly is. Sherman also happens to be the player the Cowboys are looking for Kelly -- an undrafted free agent that didn't receive a single college offer from "power five" schools -- to emulate.
Given all that Sherman meant to Richard's defenses since being drafted by his Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, these feel like impossible expectations for Kelly to live up to.
The 6015 (6' 1 5/8") defender didn't even play the same position as Sherman until his final collegiate season, slowly making the transition from WR to DB at SDSU by starting as a Sophomore and Junior at safety.
Now just another player in a blue jersey with white numbers at The Star, Kelly is looking to earn the star on a team that may look to remain young, deep, and most importantly versatile in the secondary by keeping one or more UDFAs.
That is, if any of these long shot players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster. Kelly already has an edge on this field, blessed with the length and daunting frame that allows Richard and the Cowboys to dream of featuring their own Richard Sherman.
"I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something". - Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Kameron Kelly
Kris Richard is going to coach everybody he comes across hard. He knows no other way. Kam Kelly is already embracing this, seeing the Cowboys vision for him and not backing down from the challenge.
Turn on the tape for this "diamond in the rough" prospect, and you'll see a player that carries this same competitive toughness onto the field.
Will a DB compete / tackle ? Top of screen- flat footed read on bubble- trusts eyes and goes ! Just checking boxes- I see you, kameron Kelly of SDSU.... https://t.co/fJM4s16Eq1
Kelly joins Charvarius Ward, Donovan Olumba, and Tyree Robinson as the Cowboys class of UDFAs at both cornerback and safety. An athletic DB out of Oregon, Robinson has made a strong initial impression with several plays on the ball in drills so far.
However, it was Kam Kelly that set up an interception for Jameill Showers in yesterday's practice by getting in the face of rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.
Projecting anything that resembles a starting lineup for the Cowboys defense in the last week of May is silly. So too is realistically expecting Kelly, Ward, Olumba, or Robinson to ever crack this lineup.
The Cowboys could find themselves without enough practice snaps to go around for starting caliber players like Awuzie, Lewis, Jones, Anthony Brown, and even Marquez White. This does not bode well for Kam Kelly, who is only going to continue generating buzz from fans and the Dallas media.
For now, Kelly is getting his chance though. The Cowboys are ever-so-slowly getting back into form for 2018 - doing so with many familiar faces no longer on the roster. This team is going to look different on both sides of the ball come September, and Cowboys Nation can only hope it's for the better given the impressive amount of depth all over the field.
Kam Kelly won't back down from the depth the Cowboys have at CB, expecting to impress his new coach Kris Richard in the mold of three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman.
WR Terrell Owens Featured As A Cowboy On Madden 2019 Cover
It's been a tumultuous few years for former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, to say the least. Based on his numbers Owens deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but due to his off field "antics" and poor relationships with voters, Owens was kept out of the Hall of Fame until this year.
Now that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this Summer, Terrell Owens has earned another honor: cover athlete for EA Sports' upcoming Madden video game.
Madden has become a staple of football culture over the years, and being placed on the cover of their Hall of Fame edition is pretty special.
What came as a surprise, however, is that Terrell Owens is featured as a Dallas Cowboy on the cover of the game.
@terrellowens will be on the cover of #Madden19 Hall of Fame edition
Terrell Owens played on a multitude of teams during his NFL career, spending 3 seasons with the Cowboys from 2006-2008. People tend to forget how great the Tony Romo-to-Terrell Owens connection was in Dallas, especially during their 13-3 2007 season.
That year, Owens caught 81 balls for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also earned First Team All Pro honors during the same season.
This is the first time the Cowboys uniform has ever graced the cover of a Madden game, and the second time Terrell Owens will be on the cover of a professional football video game. The first time came as an Eagle on the cover of ESPN NFL 2K5, ironically just one year before Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was the cover athlete for Madden 2006.
Terrell Owens then announced the news himself on Twitter, by tweeting out the following video.
It's that time! I've made my decision to return to football. Madden 19 HOF #stayready https://t.co/pLL4lTAhD2
Terrell Owens is arguably the greatest (talent wise) receiver to ever play for the Cowboys, though he lacked the longevity to match any of the stat totals of guys like Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. It's a shame the 2007 season ended the way it did, and that 2008 was such an utter disaster.
Those Cowboys teams were really talented, hence why they won 11 games and another division crown after Owens' departure in 2009.
QB Dak Prescott Is Taking Control Of The Dallas Cowboys
Heading into 2018 there is no question that the Dallas Cowboys are Dak Prescott's team. While some of the Cowboys fan base is skeptical of just how good Prescott is/can be, the franchise had placed all of their eggs in the Prescott-basket over the last two offseasons.
They've begun to build the "Dak-friendly offense," attempting to recreate the circumstances which surrounded him during his highly successful rookie season. By drafting offensive lineman Connor Williams, wide receiver Michael Gallup, and signing wide out Allen Hurns the Cowboys have made a conscious effort to help their young quarterback in his development.
But what do his fellow teammates think about him? Well, thus far during OTAs, the respect they have for Dak Prescott as a quarterback and a leader is clear.
Members of Prescott's wide receiver corps have been incredibly vocal about the respect they have for Dak Prescott, including two of their newest additions. Hurns told Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that Dak "runs things" around the locker room, and that the Cowboys will have no problems with leadership as long as Dak is at the helm.
Allen Hurns: "When I first got here, what surprised me a lot was Dak's leadership. He's only in his third year, but he's a very vocal guy. He runs things. I was very surprised by that. ... I don't think we'll have a problem with leadership.
Tavon Austin chimed in as well, telling Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News that while he expected Prescott to have "some juice" to him, meeting him in person allowed him to realize that his leadership is on a different level than even he expected.
I asked Cowboys WR Tavon Austin on his impressions of Dak Prescott before his arrival in Dallas: "I always knew he had some juice to him, some swag to him and when I finally get here and meet him it's definitely a whole different ballgame because it was to even another level.
It's not only members of the offense which are showing their respect for Dak Prescott's leadership, however. Team sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence is noticing as well. This week Lawrence said that Dak is clearly taking control of the offense, and you can see it "every day in how he works."
DeMarcus Lawrence: "Dak is taking a lot of control over that offense. He's trying to take his game to the next level and be one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. You can see it every day in how he works.
There is an argument that can be made that the release of Dez Bryant and retirement of Jason Witten have allowed Dak Prescott to take that control. The veterans on offense from the Tony Romo-era have begun to disappear, and Prescott is now making the Dallas Cowboys "his team."
Of course, Prescott still has to do it on the field. While much of his first two seasons have been impressive, the final few weeks of 2017 featured some shaky play from Dak Prescott. But, the moves which were made this offseason combined with the full time return of running back Ezekiel Elliott should allow Prescott to take another step forward in 2018.
And if the Cowboys plan on being competitive as a team, they'll need Prescott to make those strides.
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