Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys have a tough matchup this week when they hit the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings got out to a hot start to kick off the 2016 season, but have really struggled here lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the injuries they have suffered, but they still could give the Cowboys all they can handle nonetheless.
Minnesota still has one of the best defenses in the entire NFL, so it will be really interesting to see how the Dallas Cowboys' potent offense stands up to the test.
Now, I do believe that the Cowboys will improve their winning streak to 11 games, but just because I think they win this game relatively easily, doesn't mean there aren't some lingering thoughts stuck in my head this week.
Fortunately, that's what this space was created for. I get to share with you what I'm thinking this week and hopefully you can help ease any concerns I might have.
So, without further ado, here are the five things I'm thinking about this week.
One: Voting for the players you want to see in the Pro Bowl is currently underway and that got me wondering if Cole Beasley falls into that category? Beasley has been the Dallas Cowboys best wide receiver this season and Dak Prescott learned early on that he is a quarterback's best friend. He is currently 33rd in the NFL in receiving yards, but those numbers are misleading considering the fact that he plays strictly out of the slot. It could be argued that he is at a disadvantage and can't possibly put up numbers like AJ Green or Julio Jones, so maybe the Pro Bowl should consider making a change to how we all vote for wide receivers. There are a lot of receivers in the NFL that just play in the slot, and I personally think Cole Beasley might just be the best of the bunch. It's unlikely that he gets voted in, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.
Two: Let's stick with the Pro Bowl theme here for just a little bit longer. I wonder just how many Dallas Cowboys players get voted in and make the trip to Orlando, Florida this year? Of course, we all hope that this doesn't happen because that means the Cowboys are playing in the Super Bowl, but it's still fun to speculate. I wrote an article yesterday predicting the Cowboys' 2017 Pro Bowl players and came up with eight that realistically have an excellent chance of being voted in. The better the team, the more players they usually have in the Pro Bowl. Now, eight players wouldn't shock me, but there aare also five or six others on the Cowboys roster that are playing at a Pro Bowl level. Could we possibly see a record number of Dallas Cowboys playing in the 2017 Pro Bowl?
Three: Coming out of Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott, was regarded as one of the most complete running backs to enter the NFL Draft since Adrian Peterson. I wonder if he will be playing with any added incentive this week against the Minnesota Vikings with Peterson in attendance? Peterson and Elliott have nearly identical statistics through 11 games of their rookie seasons. Elliott has a few less rushing yards then Peterson, but has one more touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott might be playing with a little chip on the shoulder already seeing his alma mater tragically hit by a cowardly act a few days ago, so we might see him running a little bit more angry this week. That's certainly not good news for the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Four: It's no secret that the Minnesota Vikings have been decimated by injuries, especially along the offensive line. I wonder if we will see the defense in more of an attack mode this week or if defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will continue to focus on coverages? There isn't a lot to really worry about in regards to the Vikings offense. They are one the worst teams in the league running the ball and have very few consistent weapons in the receiving game. Sam Bradford is a pocket passer, so putting pressure on him could be the best way to disrupt the entire offense. The Cowboys defense hasn't been really good this year about getting after the opposing QB, but that could all change this evening against a beat up Vikings offensive line.
Five: Barry Church has been back at practice this week after missing several games with a broken forearm. His return couldn't have come at a better time with J.J. Wilcox likely to miss this game with a thigh contusion, but I wonder what kind of impact Church can have after missing so much time? Church is one of the better defensive players for the Cowboys, but is he still in game shape after missing several weeks? I don't believe the coaching staff would put Church back out on the field if he wasn't ready, but we could see Jeff Heath utilized little more just in case. I personally think Barry Church has an impact play this evening that changes the course of the entire game.
Is there any thing your wondering about this week?
Don't forget to take advantage of the comment section below to share anything you're wondering about this week.
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.
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