The Dallas Cowboys have become a prime example of what roster building in the NFL should look like at its best under Will McClay, and recently signed WR Lance Lenoir of Western Illinois is proof of this.
Lenoir's signing may not have made many headlines, but after scouting him right here and now being fortunate enough to spend a few minutes talking to him, it appears the Cowboys have found another potential steal at the WR position with the right attitude, physical traits, and experience to break in with America's Team.
Listen to my interview with Lance Lenoir right here, or read below, as he discusses everything from his HS playing days with now-Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell, college football experience, and life as a Cowboys fan once studying Dez Bryant.
Q: To start off, what is the one thing Cowboys fans should know about you when it comes to your game and what you bring at the WR position?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): I'm a great competitor. I have great hands, run great routes, and I'm going to go hard on every play. I'm going to help contribute to the team and hopefully help bring a Super Bowl championship to Dallas.
Q: What trait do you personally think gives you the best chance to make an impact right away with this team? What are you most comfortable doing in any offense, having done whatever the team needed of you to win in college?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): I can do a lot. We have great competitors like Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams that are great veterans to learn from. I'm just playing my role and playing on special teams, working on strength, being great on special teams.
I also bring in good routes and strong hands, being consistent and doing anything coaches ask me to do.
Q: How much did your short experience with the Bears earlier in the offseason help you feel a little more comfortable at Cowboys minicamp?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): It was definitely comfortable, it wasn't something new to me. I was already in this position so it was comfortable coming in to do what I do.
Q: How has working with players like - as you mentioned - Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, veteran Jason Witten, and Dak Prescott been? It has to be pretty surreal knowing that the team you have a chance with now is loaded with young, ready-to-win talent right on the offensive side of the ball.
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Being with that group of guys is definitely great motivation. Jason Witten is a Hall of Fame guy and a Pro Bowler, and so is Dez Bryant. They all come in with a strong attitude and it all rubs off on us, so we have to bring that each and every day - I look up to those guys and I'm glad to be in this position.
Q: Are you particularly drawn to this offense because of the physicality they play with across the board, being a physical player yourself? Is it something you admire about this offense?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Of course, yes. Being a tough receiver, Coach Dooley lets you bring some nastiness with you and I feel comfortable being here. I'm ready to get to work.
Q: Is there a receiver in the NFL you've tried to model your game after?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): It's funny you said that, that guy has always been Dez Bryant.
I looked at him when I was young and also in college, and have always admired his game and his nastiness. I've tried to compare myself to that.
Being next to him now, as a Dallas Cowboy, it is great to learn a lot from him.
Q: Have you had a lot of time to talk to Dez and see his work ethic?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): I talked to him through minicamp and he's taken me under his wing. We've been working on things, he's answered questions for me and his help has been good so far.
Q: As just a football fan, what did you think of this Cowboys' offense a year ago taking the league by storm with two rookies in Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott? How excited are you to now have your name on this roster with them?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): It is a blessing to have my name with the Dallas Cowboys and compared to great names like you mentioned. I've always been a Cowboys fan and this is basically a dream come true. This is a strong team and they have a lot to bring, I"m just glad to be in this position with them.
Q: What was the experience like when you found out you were being signed after working out for the Cowboys?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): It was a great day, they told me after my workout I would be signed but it wouldn't be announced until Tuesday. I stayed in Dallas and worked out with Derek Dooley, and stayed in shape. I was excited, and I called my agent and then my family to tell them all the great news. It's basically time to get to work now and do what I do.
Q: What are you looking forward to with the competitiveness of training camp, being ready for the challenge of competing against so many other WRs?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Coming in is going to be fun with a great group of guys to learn from. I'm just studying the playbook, learning what I need to and playing. I'm going to come prepared to stay on this team.
Q: Getting back to your tape from Western Illinois, do you think the blocking element of your game is something that can help you on a team that values that so much from their receivers?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Blocking was something that was very important to me, even when I played HS ball. My coaches preached that you can't be on the field if you can't block, so I carried that with me through college. Now in the pros I'll come with the same nastiness that Dez, Beasley, and Williams do as blockers and play makers.
Learning from this great group of guys and bringing that consistency will be needed.
Q: What's been your impression of the young defensive backs the Cowboys have, with Dez Bryant already saying he's loved the way they've competed so far?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Those are a great group of guys. They bring that dog mentality which you need on your team to compete. It makes you stay on your toes every day, you can't slack off and take reps off or be lazy knowing their coming. Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods are all competitors so being around them is helping me and they're all great guys.
Q: It seemed like your best games in college came against higher competition. When it comes to the day in and day out grind of the NFL, how much does this part of your experience help you?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): All of that is having confidence. I was glad to be at Western Illinois, they showed me a love that was very genuine which is why I chose to go there. I'm never afraid of any competition, I put on the same shoes and sweat and bleed just like any competitor.
There's never a threat from bigger schools or competition, it's all about being yourself and balling - I'll never be scared of any competition because I'm confident in my ability to play hard, give it my all, and know I belong here. I played alongside Laquon Treadwell in HS, my best friend, and we always had that nastiness in college and now in the pros.
Competition has always made me stronger.
Q: How has working with WR Coach Derek Dooley been, and what have you been able to learn from him?
Lance Lenoir (@Lance_Dreams7): Coach is a great guy, he's helped me catch up on the playbook since I was late coming in. He's been impressed by my ability on special teams and the play-to-play effort. They took their time with me catching up on the playbook in three days, but come training camp there's no excuses and I'll be prepared. He's a great guy and a great coach, any questions I need he has been there for me which I appreciate.
The Cowboys are absolutely stacked at WR now with the top of their depth chart set, and Lance Lenoir prepared to make the absolute most out of his opportunity with his favorite team.
Watching all of these guys line up against a nearly identically deep pool of hungry defensive backs is going to make for must-see football in training camp.
Inside The Star will have you covered as always, and thanks again to Lance for his time!
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Realistic Free Agents Cowboys Should Sign Before the Draft
NFL Draft7 days ago
Hypothetical La’el Collins Trade Could Recoup Cowboys a 2019 1st-Round Pick
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Cowboys Show Interest in Browns DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Player News1 week ago
Chiefs Release Eric Berry, Should Cowboys Be Interested?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
REPORT: Cowboys Keeping OL Joe Looney, WR Tavon Austin, WR Allen Hurns in 2019
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Post-Combine Edition
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign DL Christian Covington
NFL Draft20 hours ago
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.