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Robert Blanton’s Consistency Will Boost Cowboys’ Secondary (Scouting Report)

Sean Martin

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Robert Blanton's Consistency Will Boost Cowboys' Secondary (Scouting Report) 2

Receiving the 2017 Dallas Cowboys regular season schedule wasn't the only news Cowboys Nation received yesterday, as the team did add a veteran free agent just a week before the draft in safety Robert Blanton. The Cowboys actually visited with Blanton almost exactly a month ago, with his official signing coming yesterday to bring depth to a secondary that needs just that ahead of a draft full of young starting-caliber cornerbacks and safeties.

Blanton played through injury in 2016 with the Buffalo Bills, appearing in ten games with 27 tackles. Having spent the previous three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Robert Blanton elevated himself from a 2012 fifth round pick to a reliable starter with a team and career high 106 tackles in 2014 under Mike Zimmer.

Robert Blanton's Consistency Will Boost Cowboys' Secondary (Scouting Report)

Robert Blanton Scouting Report:

In reviewing Blanton's game tape from 2016, there isn't much that jumps off the screen when it comes to this 28-year-old safety - yet there is plenty to love about his fit with the Dallas Cowboys.

Robert Blanton can help ease the departures of both safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox as a reliable safety who was asked to play in the box, in two-safety looks, and in single high coverage.

Predominantly used by the Bills in deep coverage, Blanton can thrive next to the hyper-athletic Byron Jones as a player that reads his keys quickly and comes down hill with discipline to fill against the run with quick feet.

In single high coverage, which is also often a responsibility of Jones in Rod Marinelli's defense, Blanton shows slightly above-average fluidity and great reactionary skills. Rarely going to arrive before the ball and make an impact play, Blanton instead can cover from sideline to sideline.

While he doesn't stop running backs in their tracks, Robert Blanton uses the sideline to his advantage as a tackler while also possessing great form as a tackler that will help him consistently be around the ball in Dallas.

Blanton reacts quickly out of his pedal, at his best when he can keep the play in front of him. With his back turned to the ball, Robert will struggle to flip his hips and run, putting him out of position to defend many passes over the top.

In bracket coverage however, Blanton is incredibly disciplined with his ability to remain low and slide over the top of routes to force quarterbacks to look off.

Lastly, as a box run defender, Blanton fills against the run very well, patiently attacking his gaps and fighting off of blocks with some quick-twitch ability. While he may not always finish off the play in the hole, Blanton will prevent the front seven from losing contain while eating up blocks that allow others to fill in and make stops.

Robert Blanton's Consistency Will Boost Cowboys' Secondary (Scouting Report) 1

I mentioned in my pre-draft series ranking the prospects at each position that the Cowboys have visited that the three safeties they've met with can be had at different times in this 2017 NFL Draft.

In fact, I think they'll see a player that compares to two of the safeties they visited with that should make it out of the first round in Robert Blanton. A better tackler than Tedric Thompson, Blanton doesn't quite have the burst and athleticism that Xavier Woods possesses - but will nonetheless be a valuable player that could change how Dallas approaches these safeties specifically next week at the draft.

The Cowboys were very successful at safety last season by rotating different looks in and out, and now with the position being less of a draft priority I expect safety to be one of their strong spots on defense again with Robert Blanton earning plenty of playing time.

Robert Blanton on Twitter

Excited for this great opportunity! Thanks for the warm welcome, DALLAS! #CowboysNation

Tell us what you think about "Robert Blanton’s Consistency Will Boost Cowboys’ Secondary (Scouting Report)" 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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Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.

2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.

Injuries.

As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.

Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.

Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.

Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.

Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.

The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.

Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.

We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.

With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.

Tell me what you think about "Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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