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Cowboys Wishlist: Training Camp Special Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jason Garrett's Leadership Crucial as Cowboys "Focus" on 2017 Training Camp 1

We're exactly one month away from the Dallas Cowboys' first training camp practice that will take place, as always, in Oxnard, California. It's an exciting time all around the league. For fans, hope springs eternal in July. Practices start to get "real" as the preseason gets closer and closer every day.

For a team as intriguing as the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, there's many things that Cowboys Nation should be on the look out for. With many doubts in my mind, I couldn't resist the urge to put together some wishes for this upcoming training camp. Welcome to this special edition of Cowboys Wishlist!

Don't forget to share your personal wishes in the comments section below or tweet them to me @PepoR99!

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

Wish #1: Some Pass-Catchers Emerge as Clear-Cut Starters

The Cowboys' wide receiver and tight end position will look very different than they did last season. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will be out of the picture, not to mention Terrance Williams might be fighting for a spot on the roster, even though he's a team veteran.

New faces like Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Tavon Austin, among others will not only be fighting to make the team, but to earn starting roles on the offense. Also on the positional battle will be young, unproven players such as Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir.

It's an interesting situation, since we're not only talking about wide receivers. The tight end position will be intense with Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers and Dalton Schultz in the mix. As Staff Writer Jess Haynie recently pointed out, these players aren't bad, but unproven. 

It's nice to have tons of depth at these positions, but what Dak Prescott's offense needs is starters. Hopefully, clear-cut starters emerge during training camp. Once the regular season comes around, the Cowboys would be better off by knowing who their guys are, rather than having open competitions in week 1.

Wish #2: Connor Williams Fits Right In

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Connor Williams could define the 2018 season for Dallas. We're talking about the player who could return the offensive line to its 2016 form, perhaps even better.

Williams will have a lot to learn during training camp, once the pads come on and things get physical in the trenches.

The Dallas Cowboys are hoping to forget what they suffered on the offensive line between Tyron Smith's injury and the left guard position in 2017. If the rookie out of Texas proves to be what we all think he is, Dak Prescott will have more time to throw and Ezekiel Elliott more holes to run through.

Wish #3: Dak Prescott Improves His Game

We all know how important this year is for Dak Prescott. If he puts on a show this year, a juicy extension might be waiting for him at the end of the season. If he struggles and his level of play is questioned, his future becomes very uncertain.

Hidden behind a painful, 9-7 season, Dak showed some improvements as a passer, leader and signal-caller.

Hopefully, 2018 serves as proof that last season was nothing but a learning curve and Prescott turns out to be a franchise quarterback. Training camp will be huge for the young quarterback. Hopefully he's able to prove what he's all about.

 

With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Wish #4: Jaylon Smith Hype Proves to be Real

Man, Jaylon Smith's career has had tons of ups and downs. But this time, with his knee brace out of the picture, it really does seem like it will be his breakout year. If the Cowboys' 2016 second-round pick ends up playing like he did in Notre Dame, the wait will definitely be worth it.

Hopefully, the Jaylon Smith we see when the team starts playing in training camp is the Jaylon we've all been waiting for.

He played well in 2017 but never was able to show his full potential. This might be it for one of the hardest-working guys on the team. We are all rooting for you, Jaylon.

Wish #5: No Injuries, Please

In the NFL, injuries are unavoidable. It's a beautiful, yet violent, sport. But few things are worse than watching key players get injured before the season even begins. With the Cowboys trying to get to the Super Bowl in 2018, having guys like Sean Lee or Tyron Smith go down would certainly feel terrible.

Having said that, the Cowboys need to prove they can actually execute the "next man up" philosophy that's preached all around the league.

✭✭✭✭✭

Is that too much to ask for? The Cowboys really have what it takes to bounce back this season. It's an important year for Dallas, with coaches on the hot seat and tons of players with a lot to prove on the field.

Training camp will go a long way in defining the success of a team that has many question marks heading into the season and hopefully, for the sake of the Dallas Cowboys, these wishes come true.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Training Camp Special Edition" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!



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 @MauNFL.

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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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.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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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.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

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.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

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.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

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.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

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."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

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.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

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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