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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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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.

“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”

Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.

But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.

Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.

"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com

If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.

Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."

The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.

Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.

"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein

Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?

For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.

Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.

Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.

I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.

So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.



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Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract

Kevin Brady

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Report: Cowboys Waiting Until After Season for Amari Cooper Contract Talks 1

It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.

In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.

While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.

"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.

Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.

There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.

"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.

Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.

The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.



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