Like all the other teams that make up the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys use the off-season to analyze their current players in hopes of putting together the best 53 man roster possible for the upcoming season.
It has already been rumored that the Cowboys plan to use a couple of the current players on the roster at a different position in order to find a bigger role for them or determine their fate to make the final cuts.
Keith Smith (6'0", 232) is moving from the defensive side of the ball to offense, and trying to make the conversion from linebacker to fullback. Rod Smith (6'3", 226) is also being looked at as a fullback after joining the team as a tailback in 2015 after initially being cut by the Seattle Seahawks.
Actually, I wrote an article not too long ago on this topic about the Cowboys exploring all options at the fullback position, but I think there might just be another option that I didn't even consider until now.
At the time I heard a lot of people mentioned that the Cowboys should just use a tight end to play the fullback position, but the name that was tossed around was James Hanna. Although not a terrible idea, Hanna has proven himself to be valuable as an in-line blocker and is one of the reasons why the running game has been so successful. So, I didn't like the idea.
There is however another tight end on the roster that I think might possibly be the answer to addressing the fullback position.
It may have slipped your mind that the Cowboys decided to trade back into the 2015 NFL Draft after initially using all of their draft picks. They did this in order to make sure they secured the rights to Swaim, who at the time was considering signing as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers.
The trade consisted of the Cowboys giving up a 2016 sixth round draft pick in order to move back into the draft and select the former University of Texas tight end at 246th overall.
The former Longhorn didn't put up eye popping numbers during his two years at UT. He only had a total of 13 receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown, but the fact that he was mostly used as a blocking tight end must've caught the Cowboys eye.
Swaim did enough in the off-season last year to earn a roster spot and force the Cowboys into carrying four tight ends in 2015.
Swaim was inactive for the first 12 games, but was able to get some playing experience in the last four games of the season, especially after Gavin Escobar's injury. He ended the year with one reception for 0 yards.
So, if you haven't figured it out already, I think it would be a good idea on the Cowboys part to see what Swaim can do as a fullback.
Swaim already has some experience being a lead blocker, having done it a little while he was in college at the University of Texas.
The coaching staff at UT used him as an in-line blocker and also lined him up in the backfield as a lead blocker for the tailback. He would be bigger than a traditional fullback (6'4", 260), but we have seen the Cowboys use tight ends in this way before.
Honestly, I like the idea of using Swaim as a fullback. The Cowboys will probably already have him active as a third tight end on game day because we still don't know when Escobar will be able to return from his Achilles injury.
I think the real reason the Cowboys are looking for more versatility out of the fullback position is because the last few seasons Tyler Clutts didn't contribute much in other areas, such as special teams. In fact, he only played 13% of the offensive snaps (133), and only played 79 snaps on special teams, so you can understand why the organization is looking for someone who can contribute more.
If Swaim can play on the majority of the special-teams units, tight end, and fullback, then the Cowboys could possibly go little thin at certain positions or decide to go little bit heavier at a different position. It really frees up exactly what they can do with the final 53 man roster.
At this point in the off-season though, there really is no way of telling exactly what's on the Cowboys mind and who might be battling one another for a specific position.
I do however believe it would be a good idea to throw Geoff Swaim's name in the hat to compete for the starting position at fullback along with Keith and Rod Smith. I would let the three of them battle it out until the best man wins.
All in all, it will be really interesting to see what the Cowboys decide to do for a fullback for the upcoming 2016 season
What do you think? Do you think Geoff Swaim should get a shot at showing his versatility and play a new role for the Cowboys in 2016?
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
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:
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!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
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