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Film Review: Cowboys Sack Leader Ryan Davis Brings Versatility

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Film Review: Cowboys Sack Leader Ryan Davis Brings Versatility

In a development that rightfully should have surprised nobody, the Dallas Cowboys managed just one sack out of their defensive line in week 1, falling 20-19 at home to the New York Giants.

The team's career active sack leader at the time, Orlando Scandrick (don't shoot the messenger), got home on Eli Manning once while the other sack came from first-year Cowboy Benson Mayowa.

Now the career lead in sacks on the team actually belongs to a defensive lineman, as Ryan Davis was brought in after being released last month from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Davis accounted for 11 sacks over four years with the Jaguars, starting in 2012 after he went undrafted.

Davis' best year came in 2014 when he managed 6.5 sacks. After serving as both a productive and versatile player, Davis' departure from Jacksonville was reportedly due to the coaching staff looking to move him around to different positions - particularly linebacker.

While Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli loves players with flexibility when it comes to where they can play, there is little doubt that he will be asking Davis to focus on getting after opposing quarterbacks - something he has proven to be able to do in a number of ways before.

The same cannot be said about many of the other current Cowboys defensive linemen, so let's dive into some film on Ryan Davis to get a better feel for what he can bring to the team.

 

 

The first tape I studied for Davis came from 2014, his best season as a pro. The Jaguars moved him around their front multiple times to create pressure, with Davis flashing mostly as a penetrating defensive tackle.

On this first play watch how Davis is able to set up his blocker off the ball with his hands on the inside, in order to drive him back using his strong legs and finish the play. When it came to using his hands as a pass rusher, Davis struggled to do so consistently in 2014, but this was as good as it gets.

 

 

 

In this clip below, you see Davis lined up as a left defensive end, and capture the edge with some quickness and bend. While Davis may not excel in any particular area, he rarely failed to capture the edge as both a left and right defensive end from his 2014 tape. You'll see when we get to his 2015 tape, he began to show more in terms of pass rush moves and unpredictability attacking blockers.

 

 

Rushing as an LDE here, Davis is able to feel his blocker trying to extend on him as he powers off the edge. Using his speed and size, Davis disengages and just finds a way to the quarterback - something that only proven defensive linemen like him can do with consistency.

This particular sack of Ryan Tannehill came on a third down play, flipping field position and forcing a punt.

 

 

 

Above, Ryan Davis is now lined up as a right defensive end. The left tackle tries to extend on him, and is able to at least knock him off of his path. Davis quickly recovers to use his leverage around the blocker, first with his quick hands and then with some impressive closing speed.

You'll see all of these things once again on display from Davis as an RDE in the following clip from a different angle, along with another good example of his strength when it comes to controlling both tackles and guards looking to slow him down.

 

 

 

Against the run, Davis was able to fold inside when lined up as an end and fill gaps with some impressive but inconsistent lateral movement. Occasionally he would be caught playing a bit too high, which caused him to struggle to get a push against linemen that could work inside of him.

This was another thing that Ryan Davis improved on when I moved into his 2015 tape.

 

 

 

Right away from last season, Davis showed a lot more consistent and athletic bend as a pass rusher. For all of the plays in 2014 where he simply got beat with bad positioning, there were also a number of plays where Davis could have finished off plays if he had a better ability to finish around the edge.

The Cowboys will take pressures any way they can get them right now, and throwing Ryan Davis out there with the likes of Terrell McClain and Tyrone Crawford - two potentially dominant interior defensive tackles - is a good place to start.

 

 

 

On this next play, Davis uses his speed to his advantage on a stunt to the inside. Already running downhill when he meets his blocker, Davis knocks his man back and forces the attention of a second blocker as he pushes the middle of the pocket.

 

 

 

Ryan Davis is far from perfect, but the Dallas Cowboys don't need perfect right now when it comes to establishing depth along the defensive line. When the likes of Kyle Wilber, a natural SAM linebacker, were called upon last week in order to establish some form of a rotation, it became clear that an upgrade was needed.

The Cowboys have made us all shake our heads when it comes to finding these upgrades defensively, but they just added a quality pass rusher that still has time to develop. Waiting on the practice squad is another defensive end with experience in Zach Moore (who I scouted right here), and awaiting the status on his suspension is the talented but troubled Randy Gregory. 

DeMarcus Lawrence is also set to return in week 5, and Charles Tapper should also work his way into the defensive end equation sooner rather than later. Things could be looking up very soon for the Cowboys front four.

What do you think of newly signed DE Ryan Davis? Let us know! Share your takeaways from this scouting report by leaving a comment below, or you can email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.

You can also find all of these clips, along with much more when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, on my Twitter account @ShoreSportsNJ

Tell us what you think about "Film Review: Cowboys Sack Leader Ryan Davis Brings Versatility" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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