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.
Will 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.
Will 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?
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
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