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Cowboys WR Group Has Potential To Be Special In 2017

Brian Martin



Cowboys WR Group Has Potential To Be Special In 2017

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.

Cowboys wide receiversUnfortunately, 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.

Cowboys wide receiversTerrance 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.

Do you think the Cowboys WR group can be special in 2017?

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.

  • Kevin Black

    Gotta suck to be a free agent WR this year. I don’t see any way one makes it on the team, injuries not included.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s really a testament to how well the Cowboys have built this team and continue to add playmakers through the draft.

  • Ethan Chazin

    AND…we’re talking about losing Zeke for a few games AND…our back-up’s are Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris plus the UDFA Thomas. AND our #2 & #3 TEs who were injured last season seem to be healthy. Not too shabby

    • Brian Martin

      Exactly! Things don’t look all that bleak if Ezekiel Elliott slapped with a suspension. The Cowboys offense will still be really good

  • Russ_Te

    The 6 WR’s might hinge on keeping 2 QB’s. You can roll the dice on that this year, since Dak is young & has good size to take the punishment. Odds are pretty low he gets knocked out. It can happen, but it’s the exact opposite of what we had with Romo.

    I have to see stuff from Switzer and Brown before I buy in.

    The interesting thing is whether we will see the spread sets more. Not more passing, but mostly runs and then – deal with the 4 wide. It conceivably helps Witten to be fresh down the stretch of the season. And this group IMO can look similar to that ’99 Rams team that killed opponents with those formations. Somebody WILL get open, Dak will either have time or buy time, and there’s little defenses can do to stop big gainers in that case.

    • Brian Martin

      Russ, that’s pretty much my line of thinking as well.

  • John Williams

    I agree. This is a good, diverse group of players that do bring a lot to the table.

    I think that we might be overlooking Switzer a bit as well. Yes he does have the Beasley size and quicks, but he is also able to get downfield and win that way as well.

    I think 6 WRs is more and more likely all the time especially with Brown. They really tried to use Vince Mayle last season, even though it didn’t work out very well. Brown’s blocking gives them a lot of personnel options.

  • John Williams

    What the Switzer addition allows them to do is use Witten or a running back less when they go five wide receivers.

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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