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Nolan Carroll Adds More Than Depth to Cowboys Secondary (Film Review)

Sean Martin

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Nolan Carroll Adds More Than Depth to Cowboys Secondary (Film Review)

The Cowboys haven't made any big splashes in the 2017 NFL free agency period, but the moves they've made serve a clear purpose. A perfect example of adding quality depth at a position of need - in an effort to be able to truly draft the best players available come April - CB Nolan Carroll was added from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.

A seven-year veteran, Nolan Carroll drew interest from the Cowboys a year ago, and now finds himself staying in the NFC East with a great chance to help a ready to win Dallas team.

Let's take a closer look at exactly what Carroll can bring to a Cowboys secondary that has already lost safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox to free agency, with corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr still on the market.

Nolan Carroll Cowboys: Scouting Report

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The first thing that jumped out to me on Nolan Carroll's game tape was his fluidity in movement and ability to use this skill to excel in multiple coverage schemes. Not possessing elite speed or textbook technique, Carroll simply finds multiple ways to win against top receivers with his length and understanding of route concepts.

At his best, Nolan Carroll consistently jams his target at the line - putting him a step ahead in his pedal at the top of the route. Once there, Carroll doesn't always play with ideal balance, but he can rally to the football and explode to make plays.

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The best example of these traits come on this Nolan Carroll interception of Eli Manning from week eight of 2016, as his length and closing speed earn him a takeaway that would be a welcome sight with the Cowboys - who saw just four interceptions from their cornerbacks this season.

Carroll is incredibly hard to separate from down field with his closing speed, and this trait jumps out on tape as plenty of teams attempted to throw double moves at the veteran in an attempt to break him down. Like any defender, Carroll will give up some plays in these situations, but more times than not was able to stand his ground and leave no throwing window

Nolan Carroll will join second-year stud Anthony Brown and Orlando Scandrick as the cornerbacks for Rod Marinelli's defense in Dallas. It is clear that the Cowboys value athleticism and a certain physical threshold for the starters in their secondary, and Carroll should fit right in with the physicality to play as a boundary CB and use the sideline to his advantage while holding his own in space as a slot defender.

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In run defense and as a tackler, Carroll is more than willing to step up and make plays on the ball. He won't 'wow' anyone in Cowboys Nation with his open field athleticism to get to the ball and tackle, but he makes every play that's in front of him and tackles with a good pad level.

The Dallas Cowboys secondary was perhaps a surprising strength of this team a year ago, and with the Giants and Eagles loading up at WR the defending division champions needed to make a move at CB.

Nolan Carroll wasn't the move for this team to feel convinced that their depth chart at cornerback is ready to roll into a game, but an incredibly deep draft class at the position awaits.

Thanks to Carroll though, Will McClay and this front office won't feel pressured to have to add a corner early in this draft - as they stole a functional starter from the rival Eagles in free agency.

Tell us what you think about "Nolan Carroll Adds More Than Depth to Cowboys Secondary (Film Review)" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019

Kevin Brady

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Predicting Dallas Cowboys Roster Locks, Pre-Training Camp Edition
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Why The Numbers Expect Regression, But Success For Cowboys 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.



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Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations

Kevin Brady

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Robert Quinn
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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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Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?

Kevin Brady

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Connor McGovern

Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.

McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.

When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.

A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.

Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?

During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.

Obviously McGovern won't be starting over All-Pros Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, but could he dethrone Connor Williams from his left guard position?

While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.

This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.

In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.



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