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Earning Their Star: Which WRs Will Make The Cowboys 53 Man Roster?

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Fantasy Football Outlook: Wide Receivers

In the midst of OTAs and with training camp quickly approaching, the Dallas Cowboys are getting their first looks at a lot of the new players on the roster. The team focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, but one position on offense that they worked on is wide receiver.

The Cowboys are currently jam-packed with bodies and a lot of talent at wide receiver.

That depth chart looks a little something like this:

  1. Dez Bryant 
  2. Terrance Williams
  3. Cole Beasley
  4. Brice Butler
  5. Ryan Switzer
  6. Andy Jones
  7. Lucky Whitehead
  8. Noah Brown
  9. Brian Brown
  10. Quincy McDuffie
  11. Uzoma Nwachukwu

Of course, not all of these guys will make the team, but in previous years the Cowboys went a little light at receiver.

In 2016 the Cowboys went into the season with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Lucky Whitehead. Could 2017 be the year we see six receivers? Could even more make the 53 man roster?

Sorting Out Wide Receiver Roles

When we look at who is a lock to make the team we, of course, know that Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer are almost certain to make the team.

Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?

Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams (83) and wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) before the game against the Carolina Panthers game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are veteran receivers who don't play much of a special teams role at all. We all have dreamed about the idea of having Dez return punts like he did in his rookie season, but that ship has sailed. Terrance Williams is a quality #2 receiver and isn't asked to do much on the special teams side of the ball.

But Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley are different stories.

Both, Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley will play a role in the kicking game this season.

Which Cowboys' Rookie Will Have The Best 2017 Season?

Switzer was drafted in the fourth round by the Cowboys to be a difference maker. While Switzer is showing early signs that he can do just that on offense, the coaching staff had other ideas when they turned in his card.

Ryan Switzer was one of, if not the most productive punt returner in college football throughout his career.

Switzer finished his career at North Carolina with 99 punt returns for 1,082 yards (10.9 YPR) and seven touchdowns. Switzer's vision in the open field, shiftiness to break tackles, and quick feet make him a nightmare to locate and bring down in the open field.

Is Lucky's Luck Running Out?

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Leave Lucky Whitehead In Dallas, Won't Play Giants On SNF

With Switzer likely taking over as the team's punt returner, Cole Beasley being a big weapon on offense who also handed a good amount of punt return reps last year, Lucky Whitehead's future with the team is looking rather bleak.

Whitehead was brought in as a UDFA in 2015 and won the hearts of many fans with his charming attitude, interactions with the fans, and funny snap chat videos. What Lucky has yet to do is make any real impact on the football field.

Whitehead has been the primary kick returner and has slowly let Cole Beasley take punt returns away from him due to his lack of production and propensity to fumble. Whitehead doesn't offer much on offense, just the occasional jet sweep, which is something Ryan Switzer can do just as good, if not better with his running back background.

To make matters worse for Lucky's chances, he is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that is keeping him out of OTAs. Whitehead's off the field issues, injury concerns, and lack of production may have his days in Dallas numbered.

What To Do With Brice Butler?

Brice Butler, Packers

Brice Butler is a tough evaluation. The Cowboys acquired Butler with a fifth round pick in November, 2015 to the Raiders after Dez Bryant went down with an injury. Butler hasn't really disappointed or impressed; he has been an average down-the -depth-chart receiver since joining the team.

Butler has been given the title as the Cowboys' best deep threat, but we have yet to see him win in that way consistently. In his two years with Dallas, Butler has hauled in 28 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns in a limited role.

Even with this stat line, the Cowboys decided to give Brice Butler a one year, $1.1 million contract in the offseason.

That means the team has to save him a roster spot right?

Wrong.

Butler's contract is so small that if he doesn't perform well in training camp or one of the younger receivers out-play him, the team can simply cut Butler and only lose $300,000.

The ball is in Butler's court.

Taking A Shot With A Young Gun

Like I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys depth chart is loaded this offseason. Rookies Noah Brown and Brian Brown have a lot of work to do to make this roster, but I have a feeling at least one of them will.

Noah Brown

Cowboys Draft: Scouting 7th Round WR Noah Brown

Noah Brown was one of three draft picks the team had in the seventh round of this year's draft and I think they got quiet the steal in the former Ohio State Buckeye.

Noah Brown is a big dude, standing at 6'2 220 lbs, and that's exactly how he plays.

Brown was supposed to be the #1 target for the Buckeyes going into the 2016 season, but he struggled to get things going. Brown had 32 catches for 402 yards and seven touchdowns in his sophomore season.

Noah Brown's style of play is very similar to that of Dez Bryant. Both players use their size and physicality to high-point the ball and bring down contested catches. Brown's upside may force the team to stash him on the roster, because I don't like the chances of trying to get him to the practice squad.

Brian Brown

Brian Brown - Wide Receiver

Brian Brown is a player I am very familiar with. Brown attended the University of Richmond, which is about a 10-minute walk from my house. With Virginia Tech and University of Virginia a ways away from me, and getting most of the college football hype, it was nice to have a player drafted right out of my back yard.

But don't worry, I am not including Brian Brown in this article just because of where he played, this kid can ball!

With all the bodies at the position right now, Brian will have to go above and beyond to make this team, but don't count him out. He finished his senior season with 81 receptions, 1,485 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Brown has a knack for making some pretty ridiculous catches and creating separation at the top of his routes.

Andy Jones

Andy Jones

WR Andy Jones (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Every year we all fall in love with a player in training camp and believe he will be the next savior. Last year that guy was Andy Jones. Jones made a name for himself last year in OTAs and training camp, but struggled in the preseason.

Andy Jones landed on the practice squad last year and is out working hard again early in the offseason programs this year.

Both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have commented on how much potential he has and how much he has grown from his rookie season. We will see when the lights come on in the preseason if Andy Jones can finally earn his star.

Final Prediction

My final prediction has the Dallas Cowboys keeping six wide receivers on their final 53 man roster, while sending two receivers to the practice squad and cutting three.

Final 53 Man Roster

  1. Dez Bryant
  2. Terrance Williams
  3. Cole Beasley
  4. Ryan Switzer
  5. Brice Butler
  6. Noah Brown

Practice Squad

  1. Brice Brown
  2. Andy Jones

Cut

  1. Lucky Whitehead
  2. Quincy McDuffie
  3. Uzoma Nwachukwu

Fantasy Football Blog - Cowboys 2015 Fantasy Football Outlook: Wide Receivers

I decided to keep six receivers for a few reasons.

Dez Bryant seems to miss games every year and Brice Butler usually fills in nicely for him, but keeping Noah Brown gives the Cowboys another option to plug-in if an injury or lack of production pushes another player down the depth chart.

Carrying six wide receivers likely means the Cowboys will have to go short somewhere else on offense. Whether it's just keeping two quarterbacks or maybe letting Ryan Switzer fill in as the fourth running back.

This offense was great last year and with the talent they added at wide receiver it has the potential to be even better!

Leave me your thoughts on what you think the Dallas Cowboys 2017 wide receiver depth chart should look like.



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

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8 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    Cowboys typically only keep 5, soo I’m guessing Dez, Williams, Beasley, Switzer, Brown or Butler

    They keep Butler for simply being familiar with the offense or they like Brown enough in preseason they keep him. Switzer and Brown were drafted to replace Whitehead and Butler. Whitehead is definitely out, while Butler has a chance to beat out the rookie.

  • Randy Martin

    I cringe every time I see an article about Dallas Cowboys receivers because I feel another writer is going to misrepresent who Brice Butler is.

    “Dez Bryant seems to miss games every year and Brice Butler usually fills in nicely for him”. Can you give me the data to support this. People just throw this out and expect people to believe it. I’ve watched the games and studied the game logs and it just isn’t true! In 2 seasons Butler has caught 28 of 58 targets! That is a 48% completion rate my friend and that is horrible! It is sub-average! In 4 seasons, including 2 in Oakland, where he could not start when Oakland was hungry to find any receiver that could play, he has never had more than 280 yards receiving and shown absolutely no growth or development. If they only keep 5 receivers I don’t see one of them being Butler unless he flips a switch.

    • Kevin Black

      I’ve seen “Brice Butler usually fills in for him.” I’ve never seen ‘nicely’ put in there before. If they did, then they aren’t watching how many times Brice drops the ball.

    • #demboyz

      I agree!! I cringe when they would put him in the game; he’s the pits!!

  • dallas1966

    I think the Cowboys will draft wide receiver again in 2018.

  • Kevin Black

    Cowboys will go long due to having Noah Brown. He can be groomed to replace Dez when his contract is up or at least be a better backup than Brice Butler who you only have for one more season.

  • #demboyz

    Brian Brown is a keeper!!! He has great hands; runs beautiful routes; and has football smarts!! I watched his “Silent Assassin” highlights and was impressed!!! I’m rooting for him. If Dallas doesn’t keep him, he will be swooped up by another team. He will be in the NFL!! Go, Boyz

  • #demboyz

    Great article by the way—Is the Brice Brown, you placed on the practice squad, intended to be Brian Brown?

Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Connor Williams Turns It Around

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys? 1

The Dallas Cowboys are on the road again as they travel to Indianapolis to face a hot 7-6 Colts team that's trying to sneak into the AFC Playoffs. It will be a tough challenge for a team that's struggled when playing out of AT&T Stadium but the Cowboys have changed a lot since they were a 3-5 unit. This time, they're one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are one win away from clinching the NFC East.

We surely are in for a great game. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this week's edition of "Cowboys Wishlist."

Wish #1: Leighton Vander Esch Outplays Darius Leonard

As impressive as Leighton Vander Esch has been for the Dallas Cowboys, he's not alone in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. On today's game, he'll meet his match in Colts LB Darius Leonard. A second rounder himself, Leonard leads the league in tackles with 135. He also is responsible for 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception.

Vander Esch, otherwise known as "Wolf Hunter" doesn't have such incredible stats, but playing time is a big reason why. His play has been pretty impressive, though. Ranked as the top rookie linebacker by PFF, hell be out there to prove who's the better player. I really wish he outplays Leonard en rout to the DROY award.

Dak Prescott Clutch in 4th Quarter & OT in Win Over Eagles 3

Wish #2: No Turnovers From Dak

455 yards, three touchdowns and another game-winning drive were more than impressive from Dak Prescott. I really have faith in him as the Cowboys' QB. But we can't ignore the three turnovers he was responsible for in such a close game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

This game will be different. The Colts are a legit threat in the NFL right now and the Cowboys won't be the home team. Without Martin on the field, Prescott is likely to be pressured. If that's the case, he needs to watch out and avoid fumbles in the pocket.

It's really important the team takes care of the ball if they want the win versus Andrew Luck and company. I specifically wish Dak Prescott has a good game and does something he's done fairly well throughout his career:  take care of the ball.

Wish #3: Connor Williams Turns It Around

Expectations were sky-high for second round pick Connor Williams. A starter in week 1, injury and poor play sidelined him in favor of Xavier Su'a-Filo. With Zack Martin out for the game, Williams has another opportunity to shine. This time he'll be lining up as the team's right guard between C Joe Looney and RT La'el Collins.

It's very important to remember Williams is only a rookie. Just because we're used to offensive line rookies to have immediate success for Dallas doesn't mean every one the team brings in will be as great starting off. A rough start is not the end of the world for Williams. Also worth noting, the majority of his playing time came under now-fired OL coach Paul Alexander. I'm convinced he'll turn things around and will become an important player for the Cowboys soon.

For now, I wish he takes advantage of the opportunity to play and does a great job to be considered again for the LG spot once Martin returns.

Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Wish #4: Amari Cooper Keeps It Up

The impact Amari Cooper has had on this team is quite frankly unbelievable. He should really be seen as this season's savior for the Cowboys. While the defense is winning games, without Cooper the offense would still be terrible and results wouldn't be the same. He has more than justified the first round pick the Jones traded away to get him.

In a big, road game like this one, I hope he keeps it up and has another huge performance. Whether it is multiple scores or a 100-yard game, I simply want to see him shine again.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Connor Williams Turns It Around" 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!



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Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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