Lance Lenoir Jr. has had a great offseason. He's consistently shown off at training camp and has a very real chance of making the 53-man roster after spending last season on the team's practice squad. During the Cowboys' preseason opener in Santa Clara, he helped his case with a very impressive touchdown catch that included great route-running and toe-tapping.
Lance Lenoir: “I'm a tough receiver. I got nice hands. I got quick feet. I can block. I can basically do anything you ask me to. I'm maybe not the ideal size but I'm a big lion, I got a big heart. That's what I bring to the table.” (Video: @nfl) https://t.co/1xunO5Yqzt
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 10, 2018
We should always be wary of preseason overreactions but the truth is, from what we've seen and heard from training camp, Lance Lenoir is making a huge statement. For this football team, nailing the wide receiver position is an essential task to help QB Dak Prescott in his third year in the NFL.
The Cowboys are dealing with an overhaul at the position that has led to an interesting debate at the bottom of the depth chart. There are many young players that may deserve a roster spot but we're bound to be disappointed since the team can't carry all of them. Seven wide receivers should be the most guys they'd keep.
The top four receivers are all locks to make the team. Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin will not be a part of the cut-down day conversation the coaches and front office will undergo prior to the start of the regular season.
Note: Tavon Austin is listed as a RB on the DallasCowboys.com roster. However, from what we've seen in training camp, preseason and the depth chart published on the team's site in August 9th, we're considering him a wide receiver here.
If Lance Lenoir is to make the team, he's fighting for the last two – maybe even three – roster spots on the team. It's safe to assume that if the Cowboys do carry a seventh WR, Lenoir is in the 53. He's young and has proven he can be a solid receiver that can get open and has great hands.
But if the WR room consists of six players, he's got competition. At least two of these receivers will make the roster:
- Terrance Williams
- Noah Brown
- Lance Lenoir
- Deonte Thompson
Williams has the most experience but, will he be able to justify a roster spot? He's had the chance to prove he can be a WR1 and failed more than once. Deonte Thompson has also had a good training camp and could have a more important role than expected. Noah Brown was on the roster last year and although his snaps were limited, his blocking skills alone may get him a spot. He hasn't been as much on the field at training camp though, which has clearly hurt his case.
They all have their pros and cons. It really will be a hard decision for the front office and carrying a seventh wide receiver shouldn't be out of the question. Getting excited about lots of players in preseason is inevitable and leads us to hundreds of “He's definitely making the roster!” but it isn't until you see the whole picture that you stop being so sure about it.
Having said that, I bet Lenoir makes the roster before Thompson and Brown do. I also believe Terrance Williams could be released before any of the other two guys. He's had a decent career in Dallas, but he's failed to prove he can be more than what he already is. The fact that he is in this discussion rather than in the “starting wide receivers” one says a lot.
Lenoir has proven to be too good to let his talent and potential for Terrance Williams or for 29-year old Deonte Thompson. They should all be capable of having a good season under Dak's command but in terms of upside, Lance Lenoir seems to be way ahead of them.
There's still a lot of time in the preseason and the outlook could change a lot before cutdown day. For now, you'd have a hard time making a case against Lance Lenoir. He's proving his worth out there. Hopefully he keeps it up and translates it into the regular season.