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:
- Dez Bryant
- Terrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Brice Butler
- Ryan Switzer
- Andy Jones
- Lucky Whitehead
- Noah Brown
- Brian Brown
- Quincy McDuffie
- 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.
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.
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?
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 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?
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 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 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.
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.
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
- Dez Bryant
- Terrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Ryan Switzer
- Brice Butler
- Noah Brown
- Brice Brown
- Andy Jones
- Lucky Whitehead
- Quincy McDuffie
- Uzoma Nwachukwu
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.
Dallas Cowboys May Sit Atop NFC East for a While
If there's one thing we've learned in the past, it's that NFL seasons are unpredictable. Unknown factors, injuries and unexpected "breakout" players can shift the way we saw the league just a month ago, when we were still watching preseason games on TV. After two weeks of regular season action, Cowboys Nation might be surprised to see their Dallas Cowboys sitting on top of the NFC East, but that's precisely the case. Not only that, but they could remain division leaders for a while...
Now, let's not get carried away here. While the team might be on top right now, they're not even 2-0 and it's only week 3. The Cowboys' offense played well on week 2, but terribly on week 1. It's way too early to judge how this season will go based on what we've seen.
However, there is no denying that they seem to be in a very good position to remain the NFC East front runners in the coming weeks. The Cowboys had more reasons to celebrate last Sunday besides their victory over the New York Giants. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins suffered losses in their respective games, giving Dallas the opportunity to control their destiny.
As previously mentioned, though, it's only week 3. But the team's next three opponents aren't as scary as they seemed prior to the season's start. Through two weeks of the NFL season, the Cowboys' next three opponents are winless, sharing a combined record of 0-6.
Starting by the Seattle Seahawks, who have been a dominant team in the NFL landscape for a few years now but that simply don't seem like a very threatening opponent right now. The main reason why is their weak offensive line, which I expect the Dallas Cowboys to exploit just like they did with the Panthers and Giants. Russel Wilson is a tougher guy to contain, being one of the best playmakers in the NFL right now, but I trust the defense to handle him. They've done such a good pressuring quarterbacks, I'll trust they will continue to do so.
Next in the calendar will be the Detroit Lions. Through two weeks, they've struggled more than we expected under the reigns of their new head coach, Matt Patricia. On week 1, Matt Stafford threw four interceptions in a game that was in control of the New York Jets all night long. But it's not the Lions' offense that I think the Cowboys will take advantage of, but their poor run defense. They gave up 169 yards on rushing against the Jets on week 1 and 190 last Sunday, when they faced the San Francisco 49ers.
Ezekiel Elliott will have that defense dreaming nightmares before their matchup in week 4.
Finally, on week 5, the Cowboys will face their in-state rival, the Houston Texans. Surprisingly, the Deshaun Watson-led team is 0-2 after facing the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans. This might be the team that hands the Cowboys their second loss of the season. They have a balanced offense that will pose no challenge for the Cowboys' defense, but this could be a dangerous game for the offense.
The Cowboys will rely on Ezekiel Elliott for this one as well. On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie will have to replicate their success versus Odell Beckham, only this time they will be facing Deandre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league.
Even though the Cowboys were terrible in Carolina when they opened their season, the defense has been looking so good that I don't doubt their ability to carry the team to victories for the time being. If the offense continues to improve, then this team might be able to take full advantage of the unexpected head start it got in the NFC East.
I can't say it enough; it's only week 3... but look out. It could take some time before the Cowboys give up that #1 spot in the division.
#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.
Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.
The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.
After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.
Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.
Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.
Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.
The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.
The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.
Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.
- The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
- Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
- Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
- The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.
While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.
This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.
I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.
Kris Richard, the Cowboys X-Factor Against the Seahawks
In the NFL, wins are hard to come by. That is why teams do their due diligence each and every week to try to come up with some advantage, however slight. This week, the Dallas Cowboys may have the biggest advantage they could possibly hope for over their opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and he goes by the name of Kris Richard.
The hiring of Kris Richard may have been Dallas' biggest offseason move. We have already seen in the first couple of games of the 2018 season the impact he's had on the Cowboys defense. The entire defensive unit has been playing possessed and has pretty much dominated their opponents. I believe Richard deserves the majority of the credit.
But this week is different. The Dallas Cowboys travel to Seattle for a Sunday afternoon game against the Seahawks, who are a tough opponent when playing at home. History hasn't always been kind to the Cowboys when playing on the road in Seattle.
In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tony Romo doesn't still have nightmares about playing in Seattle. A mishandled snap on a routine 19 yard field goal attempt ended up costing the Cowboys a playoff victory in 2007. Then he sustained the back injury that would ultimately end his career in a meaningless preseason game against the Seahawks in 2016.
To say history hasn't been kind to the Cowboys in Seattle would probably be an understatement. But still, that's where they're heading for this Week 3 matchup.
Luckily, I believe the Dallas Cowboys have an ace in the hole in 2018. I think their new Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach, Kris Richard, is going to be the X-Factor. Who could give you more inside information than someone who spent the last eight years with Seattle as both a coach and a player than Richard?
Kris Richard should know just about all of the ins and outs about the Seattle Seahawks, especially on the defensive side of the ball since he served as their Defensive Coordinator the previous two seasons before joining the Cowboys. But, his knowledge of their offense could prove to be invaluable as well.
Richard has seen the Seahawks offense and Russell Wilson on a daily basis in practice firsthand. He should have a very good understanding of not only their tendencies, but what types of plays they run out of different formations. It should be just like having a spy within their own huddle.
Now, having inside information is one thing, but executing the game plan is something different entirely. Kris Richard can possibly predict with high probability exactly what the Seahawks plan on doing, but it falls on the Cowboys players as to execute the game plan.
In the end, this game will ultimately come down to which team executes better on the field Sunday afternoon. The Dallas Cowboys may have an X-Factor in Kris Richard, but he's not the one suiting up against the Seahawks. It all falls on the player's shoulders, as it always has.
Do you think Kris Richard can be the Cowboys X-Factor against the Seahawks?
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