The Dallas Cowboys could possibly be without one of their best offensive weapons when the 2017 season kicks off if the NFL does indeed suspend Ezekiel Elliott. That has a lot of Cowboys Nation at least a little bit concerned the offense won’t be as good as it was in 2016, but I think they possibly could be underestimating how special the Cowboys WR group could be this season.
On paper, the Dallas Cowboys are as deep at the wide receiver position talent wise as they have ever been, which is good news for second-year QB Dak Prescott and the passing game. The Cowboys WR position is so deep in fact, it will make it difficult for the coaching staff to figure out how many receivers they will keep on their 53-man roster.
It still really early in the process, but as of right now I have the Cowboys carrying six wide receivers: Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, Ryan Switzer, and Noah Brown. I personally believe that every single WR has something different to offer to the team, and as a whole I think the group has the potential to be special in 2017.
Unfortunately, Dez Bryant has struggled with reoccurring injuries these last few seasons, which has really limited his effectiveness on the field. But, his playmaking ability was put on display the last half of the 2016 season and I fully expect him to pick up where he left off when the 2017 season gets underway.
Cole Beasley has developed into arguably the best slot receiver in the NFL and is a mismatch problem for anybody who tries to cover him. Both Beasley and rookie WR Ryan Switzer can help Prescott by allowing him to get the ball out quickly in the passing game. Beasley and Switzer could also be an extension of the running game.
If Ezekiel Elliott does have to miss a few games to start the season, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could utilize Beasley and Switzer in the short passing game to help move the chains. It would be a lot similar to what the New England Patriots do with their WRs. Get it in their hands and let them pick up yards after the catch.
Terrance Williams and Brice Butler probably won’t be focal points in the offense anytime soon, but they do play a valuable role regardless. They just need to make enough plays to keep pressure off of Bryant and help Prescott out when he does look their way.
Rookie WR Noah Brown probably won’t be heavily involved on offense his first year in the NFL, but he can be a core special teamers and be utilized several different ways offensively if need to be. I really think he can play the H-back/TE role because of his blocking ability, but could also be a red zone threat because of his size and catching radius.
The Cowboys WR group really has the potential to make the passing game much more potent in 2017, especially if QB Dak Prescott takes the next step in his development. Anyway you slice it, this is really good news. Especially, if the running game struggles or if Ezekiel Elliott does indeed get slapped with some kind of suspension.