Has Keith Smith And The FB Position Become Obsolete In Dallas? ⋆
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Has Keith Smith And The FB Position Become Obsolete In Dallas?

Keith Smith: Will The Cowboys Carry A Fullback In 2017?

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Has Keith Smith And The FB Position Become Obsolete In Dallas?

Has Keith Smith And The FB Position Become Obsolete In Dallas?

The evolution of the passing game around the NFL has caused a lot of teams in the league to forgo carrying a fullback on their roster. The Dallas Cowboys are among the handful of teams that still value the position, but it’s starting to look as if Keith Smith and the FB position might become obsolete in Dallas as well.

This is all speculation at this point, but it is really starting to look as if the Dallas Cowboys could be shifting towards the 10 personnel offensive package in 2017. This would make the offense much more quarterback friendly for Dak Prescott, while also improving the running game for Ezekiel Elliott by making the opposing defense have to cover the entire field.

The 10 personnel package is basically a spread offense. The offense spreads the defense out by using four wide receiver sets and one running back. Of course there are different variations of how to align everyone, but it should only make the Cowboys offense even more potent.

With the players the Dallas Cowboys currently have on their roster, the 10 personnel makes a lot of sense. They could line up Dez Bryant/Cole Beasley on one side and have Terrance Williams/Ryan Switzer playing on the opposite side of the field. This particular personal package really puts a defense at a disadvantage and becomes much more Dak friendly.

Of course, if the Cowboys do start using the 10 personnel package more in 2017, that would mean the FB position becomes even less of a need than it currently is. Add all of that up, and we could see Keith Smith and the FB position become obsolete in 2017.

FB Keith SmithKeith Smith of course still is a valuable asset to have, which is why it wouldn’t surprise me if the Dallas Cowboys continue to carry a fullback on the roster. Not only does he play fullback, but he is also a core special-teams player and can play linebacker (his former position) if needed.

To have a player that can fill so many roles on your team is hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean his production cannot be replaced by other players currently on the roster.

Case in point. Keith Smith only gets a handful of plays on offense in every game, and most of those are in short yardage situations as a lead blocker. The Cowboys could choose to use a tight end in that role, something Geoff Swaim did in college at the University of Texas.

So, offensively things wouldn’t change much without a traditional fullback on the team, which now frees up an open roster spot for someone that can be more of a contributor. With every single roster spot being so valuable, there are a number of different ways the Cowboys could go about addressing the depth at each position.

Now, I have nothing against Keith Smith, but there just seems to be more positives than negatives by not keeping a fullback on the roster.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should carry a FB in 2017?

Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Jess Haynie


    Dallas has already experimented with the 2-TE system and went back to using the fullback. They have had their best rushing success with a true fullback. It’d be one thing if Smith was average, but last year he graded out as the 4th-best FB in the NFL.

    Wrote about it in January: https://insidethestar.com/keith-smith-gives-cowboys-value-stability-fullback/

    • Brian Martin

      This has less to do about Keith Smith and the FB position then the fact I think the Cowboys could start using the 10 personnel more often in 2017. That would mean that Smith would see even less offensive snaps, thus making the FB position less of a need.

      I personally like Smith and the versatility he provides to the team, but freeing up an extra roster spot could allow the Cowboys to carry an extra player at a position of greater need.

  • Russ_Te

    FB is a conundrum for NFL offenses in the 2010’s. The game has evolved from the classic run attack of the 1990’s Cowboys – which itself was an evolution from the 1970’s attacks in which you not only had a FB, but he got 15-20 carries a game just as the old “halfback” position did.

    I come at it from the bias that, we know the damage that Dallas did to teams with having a seek & destroy FB in Daryl Johnston. This offense is built so similarly with the horses up front and the talented RB, it’s hard to argue against doing what they did. It still works as it did then, because of superior talent. The defense knows it’s coming, they walk a SS up, and still get beaten up over the course of the game.

    And I always prefer the lead blocking FB who can get running before contact, to the TE blocker up on the line. Yet in today’s game the FB comes out for spread sets which indeed, are very hard to defend when you have the receivers to run it. So when they are in, everyone on defense keys run & I think that is what today’s OC’s want to get away from.

    So I don’t know the best answer, but will say that Linehan’s offenses do bring a versatility to play different styles of offense well. Whereas the 1990’s Cowboys were all smash mouth. Not sure they ran spread sets as well as this team can, and they didn’t try to very much.

    • Brian Martin

      I feel pretty much the same way as you do. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. I think at the Cowboys continue to run their offense like they have the past several seasons,, then the FB position is still valuable. But, if they are shifting towards running more of a spread offense, then it is a wasted roster spot in my opinion.

  • Russ_Te

    If I am in 3 or 4 wide a lot, I’m putting Butler in a slot sometimes & running him right down the hash marks on a go route. The FS will piss himself, leaving Bryant single up underneath it…

    • Brian Martin

      I like that idea, but I think they could do the same thing with Switzer in the slot, which could catch defenses even more off guard. I don’t know if they would expect him to run many deep routes. I think everybody pretty much compares him to Beasley, but I think he’s a much better outside threat then 11.

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