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Cowboys WR Michael Gallup is Team’s Most Important Rookie

Jess Haynie

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Will Rookie WR Michael Gallup Make an Immediate Impact? 1

Almost any other season, a team's first-round draft pick is going to be the most important rookie on the roster. Often, they are drafted to the position with the greatest immediate need. But for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, third-round Wide Receiver Michael Gallup is the guy that the team needs most.

Dallas drafted Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of last April's draft. In the second round they took Offensive Lineman Connor Williams. The Cowboys hope both will have starting roles on this year's team.

But given the other talent at those positions, it's receiver where Dallas most needs a rookie to excel.

For Vander Esch in 2018, his ceiling is probably to start in the base 4-3 defense and then rotate in the nickel scheme. That means pushing Damien Wilson to the bench, but still having to push for reps with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith when the team only has two linebackers on the field.

That's no small role, and especially if Leighton end up as the starting middle linebacker. But Dallas, like most NFL teams, uses their nickel scheme more than any other.

Vander Esch's importance is almost more about potential injury to Sean or Jaylon, where he can hopefully step in and perform quickly. But if those two stay healthy, Vander Esch may not have a much bigger role than Damien Wilson did last year.

For Connor Williams, Being Shoulder to Shoulder with Tyron Smith is Nothing New

Dallas Cowboys G Connor Williams

Second-round pick Connor Williams is going to get the first crack at being the team's new starting left guard. You could easily make a case that that's more important than the role Vander Esch will have this year.

But Dallas has a lot of options if Williams doesn't immediately excel.

They could flip Right Tackle La'el Collins back to guard and try Connor at his college position of tackle. They might also start veteran Cameron Fleming at RT and make Williams a versatile reserve.

Dallas also has veterans Chaz Green, Joe Looney, and Marcus Martin on the roster competing at guard.

These options make Williams' success less critical to the 2018 Cowboys. As with Vander Esch, there's a cushion for if the rookie doesn't show up right away.

Given the state of things at receiver, Michael Gallup doesn't have that same cushion.

Cowboys Offense Finds Rhythm to End Minicamp, Hurns and Gallup Stand Out 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

Without the rookie, Dallas has Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Deonte Thompson, as the only established players on the WR depth chart. Each one has a red flag.

Hurns has never succeeded as the top receiver in an offense. His best years in Jacksonville were when Allen Robinson was WR1 and Hurns could do damage with less attention. He needs other guys to keep defenses honest to be effective.

The same goes for Beasley, who had a strong season in 2016 but then wilted last year when teams realized he was the bigger threat than Dez Bryant or Jason Witten. Cole was effectively taken out by opposing defensive coordinators, dropping to the fourth on the team in catches.

Terrance Williams is the guy Dallas probably wish they could cut but whose contract makes it unprofitable. His recent personal issues, on top of years of underwhelming play, don't inspire confidence that he can help balance the offense.

Deonte Thompson broke out a little with the Buffalo Bills last year despite their overall passing issues, but he's 29 and didn't do anything between 2012-2016. He's a vertical threat who might help in some situations, but is doubtful as a major piece of the offense.

This is why Dallas needs Michael Gallup to show up right now. Without some new spark in the passing game, next season could be unfortunately similar to 2017.

While a full season from Ezekiel Elliott will hopefully make life easier for Dak Prescott this year, the Cowboys' quarterback still needs receiver who can make defenses nervous. None of the players we just talked about will do that, lacking the cache of Bryant or Witten from a few years ago.

 

While a full season from Ezekiel Elliott will hopefully make life easier for Dak Prescott this year, the Cowboys' quarterback still needs receiver who can make defenses nervous. None of the players we just talked about will do that, lacking the cache of Bryant or Witten from a few years ago.

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

Of course, we recognize that Michael Gallup is just a third-round draft pick. Expecting him to come in and immediately change the fortune of the offense could be asking way too much.

That doesn't change need, though. Dallas can afford for Leighton Vander Esch or Connor Williams to take a year to develop. But if Gallup doesn't show up right away, we could see a lot more of guys not getting open and Prescott getting flustered.

Hopefully, the absence of Dez and Jason this year will make the Cowboys less predictable. It will keep defenses guessing enough to help all of these players take advantage.

But nothing will help more than an infusion of new, exciting talent. If Michael can make an early impact, teams will have to adjust. That will open the door much wider for his teammates.

Again, it may be asking too much. We get that.

But that's reality for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. They just lost two future Ring of Honor members from the passing game and the two most targeted players from last year's offense.

Do you really want Terrance Williams trying to fill that void? Of course not.

While Leighton Vander Esch, Connor Williams, or even fourth-round rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz could make major impacts on the 2018 Cowboys, there is less risk if they don't. It's at receiver where Dallas suffers most if their rookie addition doesn't perform.

Therefore, for 2018, Michael Gallup is the most important rookie on the Dallas Cowboys.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Chuck Wright

    June 24, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Conner Williams most important for 2018 and it’s not close

    Sorry

    • Sexcdex Xfact

      June 25, 2018 at 1:25 am

      It is close,,,,,
      ,,,,,,even if Conner is the most important rookie
      I, myself would have to say LVE
      Simply because we’re thinnest at the LB position

      I will say Gallup second, simply because we’re most unproven at WR

      Conner Williams has quite a bit of quality depth should he struggled or is injured which is the context of the article

      But if you’re saying Conner as far as securing the O line to wit everything evolves, then I understand you
      Although I disagree

      • Jess Haynie

        Jess Haynie

        June 25, 2018 at 7:22 am

        I agree that the margin is slim between LB and WR depth. But my premise isn’t just about depth. If Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith are healthy and balling, we’re not asking LVE to be anything more than a part-time player this season. But our other WRs don’t have that kind of upside.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          June 25, 2018 at 11:43 pm

          I don’t think we have enough on them to say what’s what
          That’s the down side of the unknown WR’s is the exact upside
          Nonone knows what to expect for the Dez & Witten plays are out & there has to be an organic, if you will, approach now by defenses instead of game-planning for our 2 Prime targets
          If the scouts, coaches, Dak Prescott & Will McClay all feel good about the WR Corp as a whole
          & we all know how Noah Brown & Lance Lenoir have constantly been coming on,,,, ,
          ,,,,our receiving corp isn’t in a negative at all
          It’s simply perception
          But
          I’m too ignorant currently to discern the quality of the WR corp

          We all have very valid points, perceptions, & facts we’re basing our opinions

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      June 25, 2018 at 7:14 am

      I can understand that opinion given the critical nature of the offensive line. But as I outlined, Dallas has a lot of other options to fill that LG vacancy. I feel way better about Joe Looney starting at LG than Terrance Williams or Deonte Thompson as a starting WR. That’s why I lean towards Gallup.

  2. Ethan Chazin

    June 24, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Jess, I really like your writing but this article is just way too flawed and frankly expect more from your coverage. You fail to address the receiving abilities of our RBs esp. Elliott, Smith & Austin. When Dak targets 8+ WRs his QBR is 116, when he targets 7 or less WRs his QBR drops down to 86. He needs receivers who can be counted on to run precise routes thus your failure to mention Sanjay Lal as new WR coach already paying dividends in teaching WRs how to run routes. Beasley said he was never taught routes, Gallop and Cedric Wilson were BOTH great value draft picks as they excel in route running. Dak needs to read through progressions, Dez had a 52% catch rate and greatly interfered with Dak’s progress in 2017. So…NO with all due respect Gallop doesn’t have to be great but he DOES have to contribute as do all the other WRs. You also fail to mention Noah Brown, Lance Lenoir, AND our TEs although unproven may surprise in certain RECEIVING skills that Witten couldn’t such as ability to stretch the field, Run After Catch, get open down field!

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      June 25, 2018 at 7:26 am

      Ethan, your argument is based on a lot of things we haven’t seen yet. Scott Linehan hasn’t used ours RBs the way you described, so until he does you can’t count on that. Tavon Austin failed with the Rams, so until he succeeds here you can’t count on him. The stuff about Sanjay Lal teaching routes sounds great, but we haven’t the results yet. The new TEs could be surprisingly effective, but the key word there is “surprise.” That can go both ways.

      The point here is that we KNOW what Hurns, Beasley, and Williams are. They’re all good players but swap Dez for Hurns and we had the same trio last year. We need a spark that opens things up and Gallup has the most potential to provide it. He has the best opportunity to positively impact the entire team.

      • Sexcdex Xfact

        June 25, 2018 at 11:51 pm

        Agreed
        But Cedric Wilson college tape # raves are just as impressive
        Then we have Thompson’s deep threat speed

        I’m basing my assessment on the spread the ball around aspect
        Even Gallup has yet to be used if we reverse your last take on the yet to be proven

        So IF their approach manifest it will lessen Gallup production unless they’re wrong in raving about the other WR rookies etc

  3. Ethan Chazin

    June 25, 2018 at 6:05 am

    True but if we think really if th top 3 rookies LVE is not expected to have the same impact as Gallup or Williams unless Jaylon or Sean lee gets injured not actually so unrealistic. I believe Williams is the more important rookie as the O line is the heart and soul of the team.

  4. Frank McGriff

    June 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I believe Connor will be fine. Vander esch is my worry. I think Gallup will be good at times. But give him a year or two, he will be a terror.

  5. Travis Diggs

    June 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Most important rookie is LVE because of what happens to this defense when Sean Lee goes out is typically the story of this defense most years.

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Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator

John Williams

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It Is Time for the Dallas Cowboys to Move on From Tony Romo

The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.

Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.

First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.

Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.

Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.

Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.

I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.

It's just not going to happen.



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Player News

Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.



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