At this year's NFL Scouting Combine, Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones spoke about the team's philosophy at the nose tackle or 1T DT position. In just a few sentences, Jones all but slammed the brakes on the hype train for the Cowboys selecting Washington's Vita Vea in the first round of this upcoming draft.
Vea is one of the more intriguing prospects in this entire draft class, quickly becoming a fan favorite of Cowboys Nation this offseason even though he plays the undervalued 1T position. A human wrecking ball at 347 pounds, the hope for Vita Vea having supporters in the Cowboys' war room is once again alive and well.
The Cowboys believe Washington DT Vita Vea is a three-down player...not a typical nose guard. Rod Marinelli told me as much at the combine
The implications of this report are potentially massive on the Cowboys at the 2018 NFL Draft. Even if it doesn't mean a long-overdue upgrade at DT is on the way in the form of Vita Vea, there is a lot to be learned about the pecking order in Dallas when it comes to grading these prospects.
For 68-year old Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, this is a topic I have discussed before when questioning just how much pull he would carry in draft decisions this month. At the time, Marinelli was seen working out Florida DT Taven Bryan.
Bryan's fit with the Cowboys is much more clear-cut, as he solely played the pass rushing 3T position in college. This is the most important spot in Marinelli's scheme, one that Bryan would fill nicely as "Rod's type of player".
If the Cowboys are interested in Da'Ron Payne at 19, it's because they think he can play some 3-tech, as Stephen Jones said last week at the Combine:
In initially dismissing the idea of selecting a nose tackle early in the draft, Stephen Jones echoed the Cowboys' trust in Rod Marinelli's scheme and need for a better 3T DT - referred to above as the "under tackle".
Regardless of which Cowboys coach or executive pounds the table the hardest for their player on the clock at 19th overall, I believe they are correct in evaluating both Taven Bryan as an ideal scheme fit and Vita Vea as a three down player.
There is no way around the fact that Vea will primarily play the run-stuffing 1T position in the NFL, but this is a prospect with a legitimate chance to change the entire complexion of a front seven in even his first year.
No matter how Vea lined up at Washington, opposing offensive linemen consistently failed at handling his freakish combination of speed, power, and technique.
Vea is an absolute space eater on the interior of the defensive line, collapsing the pocket when necessary while also flashing some get off ability as a down-the-line nose tackle. Committing to Vea as a three down DT in Dallas would greatly benefit the likes of David Irving and Maliek Collins at the other starting spot.
As the Cowboys depth chart stands now, it appears that Maliek Collins would continue playing the 1T position as he did in the latter half of 2017. Showing so much potential as a 3T DT instead his rookie season, Collins could pair up with Vea at his natural position again to bolster the interior of the Cowboys defense.
Of course, this defensive line needs to be led by franchise player DeMarcus Lawrence again in 2018. Creating opportunities for Lawrence off the edge starts with the match ups the Cowboys create on their defensive interior, where their current depth would be filled out nicely by Vita Vea.
So far this offseason, the Cowboys did re-sign DT Brian Price - who was lost for the year early in his first campaign with the team. With limited reps, Price was a serviceable 1T along with Lewis Neal and Richard Ash.
It should go without saying that none of these players are skilled enough to truly stop the Cowboys from upgrading at DT in the draft, as they've shown interest in doing outside of Vita Vea - also hosting Alabama's Da'Ron Payne for an official pre-draft visit (along with Bryan).
Draft factoid of the day: Washington DT Vita Vea's full name is Tevita Tuliakiono Tuipuloto Mosese Va'hae Faletau Vea. So Vita Vea works nicely.
Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary
The Dallas Cowboys best move of the offseason may very well be hiring Kris Richard as their new passing game coordinator. Despite not signing any free agents or drafting added talent for Richard to work with in the secondary, the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel great about their current starters - along with an intriguing class of UDFAs.
The prospects of Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones, and Xavier Woods working with Richard to sharpen their skills with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" fabricator is as good as it gets. In a very short period of time, the cornerback position has turned into one of the hardest spots for fringe players to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.
Don't tell this to San Diego State's Kameron Kelly. Neither Richard or Kelly may be household names around the NFL, but San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman certainly is. Sherman also happens to be the player the Cowboys are looking for Kelly -- an undrafted free agent that didn't receive a single college offer from "power five" schools -- to emulate.
Given all that Sherman meant to Richard's defenses since being drafted by his Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, these feel like impossible expectations for Kelly to live up to.
The 6015 (6' 1 5/8") defender didn't even play the same position as Sherman until his final collegiate season, slowly making the transition from WR to DB at SDSU by starting as a Sophomore and Junior at safety.
Now just another player in a blue jersey with white numbers at The Star, Kelly is looking to earn the star on a team that may look to remain young, deep, and most importantly versatile in the secondary by keeping one or more UDFAs.
That is, if any of these long shot players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster. Kelly already has an edge on this field, blessed with the length and daunting frame that allows Richard and the Cowboys to dream of featuring their own Richard Sherman.
"I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something". - Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Kameron Kelly
Kris Richard is going to coach everybody he comes across hard. He knows no other way. Kam Kelly is already embracing this, seeing the Cowboys vision for him and not backing down from the challenge.
Turn on the tape for this "diamond in the rough" prospect, and you'll see a player that carries this same competitive toughness onto the field.
Will a DB compete / tackle ? Top of screen- flat footed read on bubble- trusts eyes and goes ! Just checking boxes- I see you, kameron Kelly of SDSU.... https://t.co/fJM4s16Eq1
Kelly joins Charvarius Ward, Donovan Olumba, and Tyree Robinson as the Cowboys class of UDFAs at both cornerback and safety. An athletic DB out of Oregon, Robinson has made a strong initial impression with several plays on the ball in drills so far.
However, it was Kam Kelly that set up an interception for Jameill Showers in yesterday's practice by getting in the face of rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.
Projecting anything that resembles a starting lineup for the Cowboys defense in the last week of May is silly. So too is realistically expecting Kelly, Ward, Olumba, or Robinson to ever crack this lineup.
The Cowboys could find themselves without enough practice snaps to go around for starting caliber players like Awuzie, Lewis, Jones, Anthony Brown, and even Marquez White. This does not bode well for Kam Kelly, who is only going to continue generating buzz from fans and the Dallas media.
For now, Kelly is getting his chance though. The Cowboys are ever-so-slowly getting back into form for 2018 - doing so with many familiar faces no longer on the roster. This team is going to look different on both sides of the ball come September, and Cowboys Nation can only hope it's for the better given the impressive amount of depth all over the field.
Kam Kelly won't back down from the depth the Cowboys have at CB, expecting to impress his new coach Kris Richard in the mold of three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman.
WR Terrell Owens Featured As A Cowboy On Madden 2019 Cover
It's been a tumultuous few years for former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, to say the least. Based on his numbers Owens deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but due to his off field "antics" and poor relationships with voters, Owens was kept out of the Hall of Fame until this year.
Now that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this Summer, Terrell Owens has earned another honor: cover athlete for EA Sports' upcoming Madden video game.
Madden has become a staple of football culture over the years, and being placed on the cover of their Hall of Fame edition is pretty special.
What came as a surprise, however, is that Terrell Owens is featured as a Dallas Cowboy on the cover of the game.
@terrellowens will be on the cover of #Madden19 Hall of Fame edition
Terrell Owens played on a multitude of teams during his NFL career, spending 3 seasons with the Cowboys from 2006-2008. People tend to forget how great the Tony Romo-to-Terrell Owens connection was in Dallas, especially during their 13-3 2007 season.
That year, Owens caught 81 balls for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also earned First Team All Pro honors during the same season.
This is the first time the Cowboys uniform has ever graced the cover of a Madden game, and the second time Terrell Owens will be on the cover of a professional football video game. The first time came as an Eagle on the cover of ESPN NFL 2K5, ironically just one year before Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was the cover athlete for Madden 2006.
Terrell Owens then announced the news himself on Twitter, by tweeting out the following video.
It's that time! I've made my decision to return to football. Madden 19 HOF #stayready https://t.co/pLL4lTAhD2
Terrell Owens is arguably the greatest (talent wise) receiver to ever play for the Cowboys, though he lacked the longevity to match any of the stat totals of guys like Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. It's a shame the 2007 season ended the way it did, and that 2008 was such an utter disaster.
Those Cowboys teams were really talented, hence why they won 11 games and another division crown after Owens' departure in 2009.
QB Dak Prescott Is Taking Control Of The Dallas Cowboys
Heading into 2018 there is no question that the Dallas Cowboys are Dak Prescott's team. While some of the Cowboys fan base is skeptical of just how good Prescott is/can be, the franchise had placed all of their eggs in the Prescott-basket over the last two offseasons.
They've begun to build the "Dak-friendly offense," attempting to recreate the circumstances which surrounded him during his highly successful rookie season. By drafting offensive lineman Connor Williams, wide receiver Michael Gallup, and signing wide out Allen Hurns the Cowboys have made a conscious effort to help their young quarterback in his development.
But what do his fellow teammates think about him? Well, thus far during OTAs, the respect they have for Dak Prescott as a quarterback and a leader is clear.
Members of Prescott's wide receiver corps have been incredibly vocal about the respect they have for Dak Prescott, including two of their newest additions. Hurns told Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News that Dak "runs things" around the locker room, and that the Cowboys will have no problems with leadership as long as Dak is at the helm.
Allen Hurns: "When I first got here, what surprised me a lot was Dak's leadership. He's only in his third year, but he's a very vocal guy. He runs things. I was very surprised by that. ... I don't think we'll have a problem with leadership.
Tavon Austin chimed in as well, telling Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News that while he expected Prescott to have "some juice" to him, meeting him in person allowed him to realize that his leadership is on a different level than even he expected.
I asked Cowboys WR Tavon Austin on his impressions of Dak Prescott before his arrival in Dallas: "I always knew he had some juice to him, some swag to him and when I finally get here and meet him it's definitely a whole different ballgame because it was to even another level.
It's not only members of the offense which are showing their respect for Dak Prescott's leadership, however. Team sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence is noticing as well. This week Lawrence said that Dak is clearly taking control of the offense, and you can see it "every day in how he works."
DeMarcus Lawrence: "Dak is taking a lot of control over that offense. He's trying to take his game to the next level and be one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. You can see it every day in how he works.
There is an argument that can be made that the release of Dez Bryant and retirement of Jason Witten have allowed Dak Prescott to take that control. The veterans on offense from the Tony Romo-era have begun to disappear, and Prescott is now making the Dallas Cowboys "his team."
Of course, Prescott still has to do it on the field. While much of his first two seasons have been impressive, the final few weeks of 2017 featured some shaky play from Dak Prescott. But, the moves which were made this offseason combined with the full time return of running back Ezekiel Elliott should allow Prescott to take another step forward in 2018.
And if the Cowboys plan on being competitive as a team, they'll need Prescott to make those strides.
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