The Dallas Cowboys begin voluntary, aka show up dude come on, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) today. It is the first chance for the coaching staff to get their hands on veterans AND the new rookie sacrifices, I mean draft picks. This is cause for a parade because it means that we’re yet another step closer to the 2015 NFL season! There will be a lot going on and a lot to see. Here are five things that I think are on all of our minds:
1. What’s happening at running back?
If you hadn’t heard DeMarco Murray has no interest in winning a Super Bowl and therefore took his talents to the home of the Italian Stallion, the City of Brotherly Love. While DeMarco Murray is busy watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the Cowboys will be seeing who wants to tote the rock this season. 2013 5th round pick Joseph Randle, 2015 free agent signee Darren McFadden, 2014 free agent signee Ryan Williams, and this year’s undrafted Synjyn Days are the names to watch.
2. Where will La’el Collins line up?
The La’el Collins situation has been very well documented over the last few weeks. An unfortunate set of circumstances let to the, arguably, best offensive tackle in this year’s NFL draft going completely undrafted and landing right in the lap of the Great Wall of Dallas, Part Deux. Deux is French for two and La’el is a son of the French Quarter having donned the LSU purple and gold in his collegiate days. He lined up at left tackle under Les Miles and he’s got some heavy talent…and permeability. La’el is slated to play either left guard or right tackle. The current offensive line of the Cowboys is (from left to right):
Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free.
Mickey Spagnola of DallasCowboys.com always instructs his listeners to follow the money. Seeing as this past offseason saw some hefty amount of it invested in our current right tackle, Doug Free, it would appear that La’el could win the starting left guard job.
3. What will the linebacking corps look like?
Today (technically May 27th, but who’s counting?) is not only the first day of OTAs. It is the one-year anniversary of Sean Lee tearing his ACL. That was a dark day for Cowboys fans, but it led to the dawn of Rolando McClain. Rolando was a savior for the 2014 Cowboys’ defense and proved to be a prominent force at Middle Linebacker. Thankfully, Jerry and Co. were able to re-sign McClain for the 2015 season so the MLB presence is filled. Sean Lee, fully healthy and hungry (reminds me an awful lot of Bill Bates, don’t you think?), will most likely slide over to the Weakside Linebacker spot…a position that he can play more naturally. That begs the question…who will be this season’s Strongside Linebacker? 2014’s 4th round selection Anthony Hitchens proved during the late stages of last season that he’s capable of holding his own. The Cowboys have already signed Andrew Gachkar and Jasper Brinkley this offseason, and further bolstered the corps by drafting Anthony Hitchens 2.0, Damien Wilson out of Minnesota in this year’s 4th round.
4. How will Byron Jones look?
With the 27th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected the University of Connecticut’s Byron Jones, a cornerback/safety. Byron has a lot of incredible physical gifts, he set a world record at the broad jump during the 2015 NFL Combine, but where can we best utilize him? Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick, fresh off of his brand new contract extension, will line up at the starting corner spots. The Cowboys still have Corey White (who they signed this offseason from New Orleans), Tyler Patmon (a 2014 undrafted rookie), and 2012 first round draft pick Morris Claiborne (still coming off of surgery mind you) who are all expected to contribute this season. The safety spot has been in question ever since Darren Woodson left, but Barry Church and JJ Wilcox held their own last season. Byron will be put where he can make the biggest impact, it’ll be exciting to see exactly where that is.
5. How good is this defensive line going to be?
Darren Woodson’s presence at safety will obviously be attempted to be emulated, but Woody himself took to the stage at the 2015 NFL Draft to announce a different renovation happening on the Cowboys defense. Darren announced the Cowboys’ 2nd round draft pick, 60th overall, Randy Gregory from Nebraska. Gregory partners up with this year’s marquee free agent signee, Greg Hardy, as the new regime on Dallas’ defensive line. They’ll join the likes of Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence (2014 2nd round draft pick), Jeremy Mincey, Davon Coleman, Jack Crawford, and Ryan Russell (2015 5th round selection from Purdue) as Rod Marinelli’s favorite toys.
There is a lot of hype going into the 2015 NFL season. And you know what? There should be. This is a very talented team and today they’ll join together to start a journey that will hopefully culminate in a trip to San Francisco and Super Bowl 50.