Connect with us

Player News

Great Expectations: Carving Out a Role for Ryan Switzer

John Williams

Published

on

Ryan Switzer

In part one of the series on expectations for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys, I talked about the great expectations for Dak Prescott improving on his excellent rookie campaign.

Today, we're looking at one of the 2017 rookies; Ryan Switzer.

The moment Ryan Switzer was drafted the comparisons to Cole Beasley were almost immediate. We know that Beasley isn't going anywhere. He has a great rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott so it's unlikely that Switzer is going to take any of Beasley's snaps.

While Beasley is an obvious comparison, based on their size, I think that Switzer may be more of a Ty Montgomery, Danny Woodhead, Lance Dunbar, and Tyreek Hill (minus the speed) type of player for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys.

Where Will Ryan Switzer's Playing Time Come From?

Staff Writer Jess Haynie alluded to this in his recent offensive roster breakdown.  And check out this Ryan Switzer post-NFL Draft scouting report from ITS Staff Writer Sean Martin.

Ryan Switzer on Offense

Ryan Switzer

WR Ryan Switzer

As many have already suggested, Switzer -- who was drafted in the fourth round out of North Carolina -- will have a chance to take Lucky Whitehead's job in the offseason and thus take his offensive snaps.

Whitehead was used primarily as a gadget player in the offense. He's had some WOW moments as well as some facepalm moments. It's the facepalm moments that have opened the door to a competition at wide receiver.

Whitehead's offensive role was limited to only 13% of the snaps during the season. Part of that is due to his limitations as a pass catcher and the team's minimal use of five wide receiver sets.

In fact, when they went empty backfield, it was with four wide receivers and Jason Witten lined up as the in-line tight end. Their other empty backfield formation was with Ezekiel Elliott motioning out of the backfield.

Whitehead only received 13 touches on offense in 2016, which is actually down from his 2015 total of 16.

Ryan Switzer comes with more of a pass catching resume than Whitehead, catching 96 passes for over 1,100 yards as the top option for number-2 overall pick, Mitch Trubisky.

Lucky Whitehead's best season saw him catch 76 passes for 706 yards and six touchdowns. In his only other full-time season, he caught nine passes.

Switzer had three seasons with more than 50 catches, including the 96-catch senior season. He also scored offensive touchdowns each of his four seasons at UNC, totaling 19.

The other place in which Ryan Switzer could help the team is in the Lance Dunbar role and his 13% share of the team's offensive snaps. Dunbar is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams and many have been longing for a scat-back type to replace him on the roster.

What if that scat back is actually listed as a wide receiver?

Not sure if you're aware, because I didn't know until after the draft, but Switzer played running back in high school and was really, really, really good.

In 2011 and 2012, he carried the ball 504 times for 5,175 yards (2587.5 per season), and 72 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns. And if those numbers aren't incredible enough, he tallied four interceptions his junior year, returning two for touchdowns. Stats taken from 24/7 Sports.

Kinda wish I would have lived in West Virginia to get a chance to watch young Ryan play. He must have been electric in high school.

The Green Bay Packers opened the door to converting running back-turned-wide receiver, back into a running back with what they did with Ty Montgomery in 2016. If they were willing to make him the feature back for a team that went to the NFC Championship game, surely the Dallas Cowboys can carve out some snaps for someone who was a really effective back in high school.

And before you start with the "but that was high school" stuff, lets remember Rico Gathers, who hasn't played football since the eighth grade.

To me, Ryan Switzer is the answer to two positions on the team.

He's the Lucky Whitehead "gadget" guy and the Lance Dunbar "scat-back" guy all rolled into one. Perhaps he is Inspector Gadget. 

There is a minimum of 282 offensive snaps available to Switzer to earn, with a shot to take some from receiver Brice Butler as well. As things have been going in OTAs and minicamp, Switzer may just be able to do that.

Ryan Switzer on Special Teams

Which Cowboys' Rookie Will Have The Best 2017 Season?

With an emphasis on special, Switzer was a very special returner for the Tar Heels. He was widely regarded as the best returner in the 2017 NFL Draft, even by himself.

His best season was as a freshmen when he averaged 20.7 yards per punt return and scored five touchdowns. As a junior, he averaged 13.7 yards per punt return and scored two more touchdowns.

Whitehead has much more experience as a kick returner than Switzer does, but hasn't been effective. As a punt returner, Lucky has only averaged 6.9 yards per return on his career.

In college, Switzer averaged 10.9 yards per return for his career.

Between Whitehead and Dunbar there are 208 snaps available on special teams. I'd imagine he'd also get some work on kickoff and punt coverage as well.

With what Switzer can do as a receiver, runner, and returner, it seems that there will be a nice role for him during the 2017 season. I'd expect him to see anywhere from 300-450 snaps this season, even if everyone is healthy.

If one of the wide receivers gets hurt, I expect that number to go up.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Advertisement
Comments

Player News

Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder Stand Out in Cowboys Practices

John Williams

Published

on

Why Cowboys Rookie DE Dorance Armstrong is the Pass Rusher to Watch in Carolina

With Left Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, Defensive End Taco Charlton rehabbing a shoulder and foot injury, and Right Defensive End Randy Gregory currently suspended indefinitely, there have been plenty of snaps at defensive end for other players to make a name for themselves in the offseason training activities (OTAs) and this past week's minicamp. The two players that stood out above all others on the defense were defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and Kerry Hyder.

You might be asking yourself, "what does it matter? DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn are the starters. Why should we care about a couple of backups."

First, the backup defensive ends for the Dallas Cowboys will play. After DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, the leaders in defensive end snaps in 2018, Randy Gregory got 44% of the snaps on defense and Taco Charlton saw 39%. Dorance Armstrong, who played sparingly as a rookie, saw 26% of the snaps. The defensive ends that make the 53-man roster are going to get playing time.

Secondly, there's no guarantee that DeMarcus Lawrence will be ready for week one. Tyrone Crawford, who was the starter at right defensive end in 2018, could miss week one if the NFL deems his offseason altercation is worthy of a suspension. That leaves a whole lot of potential snaps at the left defensive end spot if either of those two guys misses week one.

Dorance Armstrong, the Dallas Cowboys fourth-round pick from 2018, caught the eye of several observers from the media and finished his offseason with a strong minicamp.

"These coaches have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Dorance Armstrong during these practices. Armstrong has been mainly filling in for DeMarcus Lawrence on the left side, but on Wednesday he switched over to the right. There were several snaps where he was a handful for Cam Fleming to handle. Armstrong started off well last season before hitting the rookie wall. He physically looks bigger and is also now equipped with the knowledge of how he has to prepare to play at a high level the entire season. Keep an eye on Armstrong to make that jump from the first to second year."

Bryan Broaddus - DallasCowboys.com

Armstrong had a really nice training camp as a rookie and as Broaddus notes, tailed off during the regular season. Reports are that he's added size this offseason -- as most players do between their first and second year -- and if all the reports are correct, could be a breakout player in the making.

Kerry Hyder is another intriguing player and one of the more underrated offseason acquisitions by the Dallas Cowboys front office.

Coming from the Detroit Lions, where they used Hyder as a nose tackle in Matt Patricia's 3-4 alignment, he was played severely out of position. In 2016, playing primarily as a defensive end, Hyder recorded eight sacks for the Lions. In 2017, he suffered a torn achilles which kept him out all of that year.

Now with the Dallas Cowboys, he gets to return to his more natural defensive end position. And he's making some noise in these offseason practices.

David Helman on Twitter

D-Linemen never get any shine during OTAs, so today is for them. With Tyron Smith & La'el Collins sitting out today, Dorance Armstrong & Kerry Hyder absolutely wrecked practice. Murdered it. I legitimately don't think Dak would've gotten a single throw out if sacks were allowed.

Of course not playing against the starting tackles in Tyron Smith and La'el Collins will allow players to shine a bit more, but let's not forget that Cam Fleming started in the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots before signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Connor Williams, who has been getting snaps at tackle as well, is no slouch as a former All-American for the Texas Longhorns.

Here's what Bryan Broaddus had to say about Kerry Hyder in one of the previous OTAs his "Scout's Notebook" from May 22nd.

"I have to be careful with my love for veteran defensive linemen, but Kerry Hyder looks like a different man playing at end instead of head-up tackle. The coaching change in Detroit did him no favors last season. Having to play in a spot where he had to fight blocks all day to now working on the edge in space is a good thing for him. It appears that Hyder has his quickness back, but he also has some pass rush moves in his tool belt. I thought maybe they were going to use him as an under-tackle, but putting him back at end might be his best shot at making the roster."

Bryan Broaddus - Dallas Cowboys.com

The Cowboys found a really good player in Kerry Hyder. He's capable of playing some 3-technique defensive tackle if needed as well as on the edge. He has a good motor and is able to make plays in the running game.

With the emergence of Kerry Hyder and Dorance Armstrong this offseason, it puts Taco Charlton behind the eight ball as the team heads to Oxnard. If they continue to play well, it's a real possibility that Charlton could be a gameday inactive during the regular season, especially if Randy Gregory is reinstated.

However they end up being deployed, this group of defensive ends will cause fits for opposing offensive lines. They've been aiming for waves of pass rushers for Rod Marinelli's defense and for the first time since becoming defensive coordinator, he looks to have just that.



Continue Reading

Player News

BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



Continue Reading

Player News

Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

Published

on

Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending