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Cowboys Roster Battle: Brice Butler Vs. Noah Brown

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Draft WR Noah Brown at #239

The 2017 training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is shaping up to be the most competitive  that I can remember of in at least the last decade, possibly longer. There will be plenty of battles to keep a close watchful eye on, but one Cowboys roster battle that I think has a lot of fans excited is between wide receivers Brice Butler and Noah Brown.

When it comes to getting down to their 53 man roster, the Dallas Cowboys usually just carry five WRs on the team. With the top three pretty much set in stone in Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams, that leaves only two available spots.

I completely understand that it’s a little premature right now to speculate who claims the final two spots, but I think we can all pretty much agree that Ryan Switzer is probably at least fourth on the depth chart right now. The Cowboys likely wouldn’t have drafted him in the fourth round without having an understanding of how he would fit in otherwise.

So, that leaves Brice Butler fighting for his job and I think his main competition will be with rookie Noah Brown. Although, Andy Jones and the rest of the WRs might have something to say about that. But, for now I’m going to go with my gut and stick with the idea it will come down between Brown and Butler.

Keep reading below to see why this particular Dallas Cowboys roster battle could possibly be the most interesting to watch.

WR Brice ButlerWill Brice Butler win?

When you draw up the dream prototypical wide receiver teams like on the outside, Brice Butler would fit that criteria perfectly. He is 6’3″, 220 and has legitimate 4.3 speed. What more do you really need?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is the reason why Butler could be competing for the final WR spot when the Dallas Cowboys start getting down to their 53 man roster. Consistency.

Consistency has been Butler’s biggest enemy since entering the NFL. He shows the flashes of becoming a reliable outside receiver, but as of yet hasn’t been able to do it on a continual basis. That could be his undoing with the Cowboys, but he does have things going in his favor.

Butler has a head start on the competition and is entering the third-year in the Cowboys offensive scheme. He has the knowledge in the system and had moments last year where he was a game changer when Dez Bryant was out of the lineup.

Butler also has a year under his belt working with quarterback Dak Prescott. This might just be the biggest advantage of all. They already have an established working bond, which should only get better once off-season practices start.

So, this Dallas Cowboys roster battle could be over with before it even got started, but not if Noah Brown has anything to say about it.

WR Noah BrownWill Noah Brown win?

Former Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Noah Brown was one of my favorite WRs in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. I actually had a fourth-round great on him, so you can imagine I was absolutely ecstatic when the Dallas Cowboys were able to draft him in the seventh round.

Brown was underutilized for some reason at Ohio State, but he has the skill set to make it in the NFL and seriously push Brice Butler for one of those final remaining WR roster spots.

At 6’2″, 222, Brown has the prototypical size the Dallas Cowboys like in their outside WRs. He doesn’t have Butler’s deep speed, but he more than makes up for it with the variety of ways he can contribute to the team.

As a wide receiver, Brown is still pretty raw, but has a skill set similar in many ways to Dez Bryant. He has a large catching radius and understands how to use his body to shield defenders to go up and catch the ball at the highest point. He also plays the game with the physicality and attitude much like Bryant.

Where Noah Brown has the advantage over Brice Butler is on special teams and more importantly blocking in the running game. Butler doesn’t really play special teams, but that’s an area where Brown will contribute right away. Teams like to have that in their wide receivers, especially those at the bottom of the depth chart.

Brown’s ability to block in the running game is what will get him on the field early on offense. Defensive backs around the league will learn to keep their head on a swivel when they know Brown is on their side of the field. He takes pride in completely demolishing defenders and I think that is something the Cowboys coaching staff will absolutely fall in love with.

Oh, let’s not forget that it was Ezekiel Elliott campaigning the Cowboys to draft Noah Brown in the first place. It’s always good to have one of the star players in your corner.

✭✭✭✭✭

While there will be plenty of different Dallas Cowboys roster battles to keep track of, I think there will be a lot of eyes on Brice Butler and Noah Brown. Fans have seem to grow a little bit tired of Butler’s inconsistency and are ready for a change.

I for one like both WRs, but my gut is telling me that Noah Brown not only has more upside, but has more to offer because of his special-teams ability. So, even though Brown hasn’t put on a Cowboy’s uniform as yet, I give him the slight advantage.

Who are you rooting for? Brice Butler or Noah Brown?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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10 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    …”had moments last year when he was a game changer with Dez Bryant out of the lineup.” C’mon man! Are you serious? Butler has never been a game changer in 4 years in the league! I submit as evidence article A his game logs from 2016. He never had more than 2 catches in a game and finished with a meager 16 for 219 yards and 3 TD’s. What, about that, screams game changer to you? If your suggesting his speed on the field allowed someone else the opportunity to make plays I never saw that. You are far too kind, my friend. The eye-popping stat for Butler is 28 for 60. He has 28 catches on 60 targets in 2 years as a Cowboy which is just over 46%. Absolutely horrendous! I do not understand fans affection or patience with Butler. The Noah Brown pick was all about putting Butler on notice. He has shown no growth in 4 years. He is a nice guy but we know where nice guys finish. If Brown can’t beat out Butler then that’s a sad statement because he wouldnt make it to the practice squad. Not only will he win the job, he must!

    • Brian Martin

      You’re absolutely right Randy. Game changer was probably wrong term to use. Perhaps serviceable would have been more accurate.

  • Kevin Black

    I see them both on the roster. The question in my mind is which one will be on the 46 on Sunday. Noah’s special team ability will be key here. I see Noah as a Dez Bryant starter kit and someone who if he reaches his ceiling, will supplant Dez as the number 1 in about four (4) years.

    • Brian Martin

      Kevin, I have a hard time seeing both of them on the roster. That would mean the Cowboys carry 6 WRs. It’s certainly possible, but that means they would have to go a little short at another position.

      • Kevin Black

        When I looked at the roster, I found it pretty easy to have six (6) receivers. We had five (5) last year, all on the active 46, so having a developmental WR that won’t make the practice squad but isn’t ready for the 46 made sense to me. Once I had my active 46, I looked at what was left and made choices based on whether the player had the upside to keep but wouldn’t slip through waivers.

        • Brian Martin

          It’s doable, but the Cowboys may need to carry an extra offensive lineman with the uncertainty at RT and LG or maybe another LB because of Jaylon Smith. Also, there are a lot of young players on the defensive side of the ball, which means they go a little deeper at a certain position. This is certainly something that will make training camp so much more interesting this year.

          • Kevin Black

            I had 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 3 TEs, 6 WRs and 9 OL on offense. I had 4 S, 6 CB, 6 LB and 9 DL. That left 3 for the specialists. That’s only 52, so I actually have room for one more, so a special teams player, like an LB, could fill that.

          • Brian Martin

            That’s about how I have it, except I went with 10 OL and 7 LBs

          • Kevin Black

            I could see swapping a LB for a OL. Can’t see both. Unless they feel they are short on the Special Teams and they resign Gachkar. I think Noah could take his ST spot. Much better reward if he pans out.

  • eusdart

    Noah Brown! Butler is a bit long-in-the-tooth to still be inconsistent – what you see is what you get! Noah Brown on the other hand has everything in front of him and I believe a much brighter future (hopefully with Dallas rather than against Dallas). I would like to see Dallas create something new with 2 big physical WR, and a very big (6,6) physical TE offset by small shifty quick slot receivers – wow!

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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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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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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