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!
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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