The Dallas Cowboys stayed true to their commitment of heavily addressing the defense in the 2017 NFL Draft, committing seven of their nine picks to that side of the ball. With their offensive core firmly in place, the draft still presented the Cowboys a chance to bolster the wide receiver position - and potentially much more - in the fourth round with Ryan Switzer and seventh with Noah Brown.
With the full slate of rookies reporting to Minicamp yesterday to #EarnTheStar, let's attempt to find 2017 roles for Switzer, Brown, and a few of the offensive players Dallas signed after the draft.
WR Ryan Switzer (Round 4 Pick 133)
Ryan Switzer has quickly developed into a fan favorite player for many in Cowboys Nation, which is warranted when you look at the wide range of ways Switzer can impact any given game as a rookie for America's Team.
Already well-known for giving Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan another Cole Beasley-esque slot receiver to utilize in tormenting opposing defenses, Switzer's name has been mentioned by the Cowboys as a potential replacement to departed running back Lance Dunbar.
This "gadget player" role is currently occupied by Lucky Whitehead, who is limited as a receiver but has value as a kick and punt returner - another position Ryan Switzer can immediately upgrade.
Ryan Switzer special teams numbers. #Cowboys
Switzer made it very clear right after his selection that the Cowboys were one of multiple teams that graded him as this draft class' top return man, giving him a clear spot to make his immediate presence felt.
Additionally, look for Ryan to make the most of his offensive touches both in the slot, on jet sweeps, and from anywhere else the Cowboys find to show off his explosive play ability.
WR Noah Brown (Round 7 Pick 239)
Brown's Ohio State teammate Ezekiel Elliott was a big voice in bringing this dominant blocking receiver to the Cowboys, where Noah will now face an uphill battle in getting on the field in 2017.
As a seventh round pick, the Cowboys should certainly be excited about their long-term potential with Brown, but for now he'll likely be limited by the receivers ahead of him on the depth chart.
Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer should all be locks to make the roster, leaving the fifth and potentially final WR spot to either Brice Butler, Noah Brown, or a "dark horse" candidate like Quincy McDuffie.
Dallas has already shown some commitment to Butler by re-signing him prior to the 2017 season, and with this confidence should come extra opportunities in training camp. Noah Brown will have his flashes as a physical specimen that can level defenders as a blocker, but it may not be enough to earn meaningful snaps this season.
Undrafted Free Agents
The Cowboys officially signed 13 UDFA players ahead of their Rookie Minicamp, eight of whom will fight for their chances in a nearly complete offense. Here are just a few that I think are worth keeping a closer on eye than the rest.
QB Austin Appleby (Florida)
Appleby spent three seasons at Vanderbilt before playing his Senior season with the Florida Gators, completing 127 of 209 passing attempts for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Doing so while displaying enough intriguing pro traits to earn a spot on the Cowboys following the draft, Appleby's competition will come in the form of fellow UDFA QB Cooper Rush.
Performing against better competition isn't the only advantage Appleby has in his fight for either the QB2 spot with Kellen Moore or the developmental third QB position. When given a clean pocket, Appleby will display some flashes of great accuracy with his very strong arm, but struggles to complete the touch throws necessary to be a well-rounded passer or diagnose situations under any pressure.
QB Cooper Rush (Central Michigan)
Cooper Rush was never able to put everything together as a next-level QB prospect over his four years starting at Central Michigan, where he became the MAC's second leading passer of all time with 12,894 yards.
Rush's slight upside paired with some intangibles as a pocket passer give him a chance to carve out a role as a QB3 in this league, but he will need to improve his overall mechanics and sloppy footwork to show he can deliver the ball accurately to all levels on a much more consistent basis.
OL Michael Coe (North Dakota)
OG/C Michael Coe (6-2, 309, North Dakota). Played OT/OG/C in college. Unlocks his hips, mirrors and gets the job done. Some balance issues. https://t.co/2iqh04aamm
Figuring out how the depth chart will fall along the Cowboys' offensive line at this point in the offseason is a fruitless exercise, but it goes without saying that undrafted players will likely have a hard time cracking a roster with first-round starters at three positions.
That said, Michael Coe of North Dakota brings an interesting blend of two elements that may give him a chance in Dallas - versatility and technique talent.
Coe gives the Cowboys a chance to sneak more depth onto their offensive line should he earn a spot, experienced at all five positions, approaching tackle, guard, and center with the same toughness that Coe pairs with his length and functional strength to be successful.
G Nate Theaker (Wayne State)
Also experienced as a tackle and guard, Theaker will have to find a home in the NFL at guard - where the Cowboys currently are considering all options on the left side.
Theaker plays with a visible mean streak on tape - one that unfortunately replaces his technique too often - but holds up just fine at the line of scrimmage and can deal with multiple types of rushers.
Theaker will have his flashes with the Cowboys this summer because of this, but absolutely needs to improve as an aware athlete that can bend his hips and steer defenders if he wants to hold up against next level defenders consistently.
3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator
Days after firing Scott Linehan, the Dallas Cowboys continue their search for their next offensive coordinator. It all points toward the team making an in-house promotion, with QB coach Kellen Moore taking his mentor's place. According to Adam Schefter from ESPN, the former Boise State passer is the leading candidate for the offensive coordinator vacancy in Dallas.
Former NFL QB Jon Kitna, now offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football, is expected to become the Cowboys' QB coach, per a league source. Dallas' current QB coach, Kellen Moore, is a leading candidate to become Cowboys' OC, per sources.
The main reason to believe this, is the fact that Jon Kitna is expected to be hired as the team's QB Coach. This could mean plenty of things for Kellen Moore, but it's more than fair to believe he'll get the promotion.
Naturally, a huge amount of fans will be infuriated if Kellen Moore does get the coaching gig. His time as a player in the league wasn't any good. He's been part of Scott Linehan's coaching tree and that should mean Moore isn't capable of being an offensive coordinator, right?
Well, not so fast. Here are three reasons why you shouldn't hate Kellen Moore's candidacy for offensive coordinator.
1. Bad Player Doesn't Mean Bad Coach
First of all, let's forget about the idea than a player's performance is any indication of what he can be as a coach. It has absolutely no correlation. A bad player can turn into a pretty good coach and a good player can be terrible at coaching.
When we're talking about Kellen Moore, we're talking about a pretty smart kid. Ever since he was coming out of Boise State, scouts and analysts talked about his excellent football IQ. Moore clearly didn't last in the league because of his talent. What helped him stick around was his intelligence and knowledge. Teams that had him as a backup signal caller basically had a second QB coach on the locker room.
I actually found it funny how the perception around Moore has changed. When he was a backup on the roster, we talked about how he was very smart and could become a great coach someday but he didn't have it as a player. Now that he is a coach, we're talking about how he can't coach because he didn't play well. How is that logical?
2. Working With Linehan Doesn't Mean He’s Linehan 2.0
Now, another big concern is the fact that he worked many years with recently fired Scott Linehan. This doesn't mean Kellen Moore has the exact same offensive philosophy than his mentor. Sure, he worked with Linehan's offense because it was his job. We don't actually know what he'd bring to the table when he's in charge of the offense. Not to mention, Linehan wasn't always awful. There's a reason why for some years his offense was pretty productive. Moore can take the positive lessons from Scott and throw in a little of his own to make the Cowboys' offense efficient.
Dallas could move the chains last season. It was in specific areas like the red zone, long down situations that the team struggled. Kellen Moore could very well have what it takes to change that. At the end of the day, we won't know until we actually see what Moore's philosophy looks like.
3. Jason Garrett Will Take Over the Offense
For some years, Linehan was in complete control of the offense. This time around, it feels like it will be Jason Garrett's unit. This might be the most important aspect of this whole thing. This is Garrett's plan. This could very well be a great staff working together. Moore can be eased into his job with Jason Garrett calling the plays on the sideline at the start of the season.
With TE Coach Doug Nussmeier's help, this group could get this offense going. If Garrett will remain at the wheel, let him have control over his offense. If he fails, at least you gave him the chance to structure his staff and get involved.
And @mortreport reports that HC Jason Garrett is in line to wind up calling the Cowboys' plays this season. https://t.co/EWri4mZAgH
I know this will not be a popular decision by the Cowboys, but I frankly believe it might work. Although the head coach is the same, this would be a very different staff in 2019. The hire is not yet official, but it all points toward this happening.
Personally, I would've preferred the team to hire an outsider to refresh the ideas in the building. However, I don't hate the idea of Kellen Moore stepping up to the position. And you shouldn't either. At least not until we actually see what he has in store for us.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with every news regarding the Dallas Cowboys.
What do you think of Kellen Moore being the leading candidate for OC?
Cowboys Roster Looking Pretty Good for 2019
It was hard to watch the 2018 Dallas Cowboys end their season in the Divisional Round versus the Los Angeles Rams. The widely recognized Cowboys’ defense couldn’t find a way to stop the Rams’ running backs. Even still, it was a successful season in many ways. Dak Prescott played well and clearly improved after the team got him a great #1 wide receiver in Amari Cooper. The defense had a breakout season, getting to be one of the best units in the league. Young talent on the team shined bright.
Yet, as every year, the season ends with questions. What was the reason the Cowboys couldn't hold their own against the Rams? What are the team's weak spots? What position should the Cowboys aim to upgrade in the offseason? What was the most relevant problem?
To answer that last question, I can't avoid thinking of the word "play-calling," which was a huge issue in Dallas both in 2018 and in 2017. But the Dallas Cowboys finally pulled the trigger and made a bigger change in the coaching staff. Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been released as the team looks to change its offense heading into 2019. Also, a change at defensive coordinator could also be next for Dallas considering Kris Richard’s success since his arrival.
But let's leave coaching aside for a moment. Let's talk about this team's roster. The Cowboys actually have a talented group of players on the team. Of course, there are needs that must be taken care of, but there aren't really that many positions in which the team requires desperate help. Now granted, the front office will be very busy dealing with in-house extensions trying to extend many players' stays in Dallas.
This will be no easy task, but Stephen Jones and company have done a very decent job handling the cap space over the last few years. With much space to work with, there's reason to believe they will get things done. When it comes to adding talent to the team, let's talk about the elephant in the room. The Cowboys lack a first round pick. After all, getting Amari Cooper on the Cowboys had a cost.
But hey, thanks to that trade, Dak Prescott's offense has a great set of wide receivers. Michael Gallup continued to grow as the season went on. The offensive line is not there yet, but I'm confident in Connor Williams being a way better player than he was as a rookie. As for the defense, the Cowboys' front seven is one of the most promising in the entire league. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are one of the best LB duos in football. This is a legit football roster.
The team needs a defensive tackle, an upgrade at safety and probably a more prepared tight end. They probably could use help at many other positions, but I don't mean to rank the biggest concerns on the roster heading into 2019. However, if the front office fails to considerably improve any of these positions, it'll be far from the worst thing to happen.
Whether you like him or not, Jeff Heath has been decent enough to be a starter on the team. He won't be great, but he can get the job done. Defensive tackle wasn't a very big issue with Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins stepping up all throughout the season. The tight ends consistently improved week after week, featuring Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin.
Obviously, we want improvements. We want a better player at each position. But once the NFL free agency and the Draft comes around, it'll be important to remember that the Cowboys have a good roster and could get wins with the guys they have now. Desperate moves shouldn't really be on their plans. This is a team with enough talent to win in 2019.
Assuming Kris Richard earns the defensive coordinator title next season, having two new heads among the staff should be refreshing enough to exploit that talent's potential. Talent should be added, and even big time free agents such as Earl Thomas deserve consideration. But this is not a roster that's desperate. In fact, it's a roster in very good shape. The Cowboys might not have a first round pick, but frankly, they are in a very good position to lack a first rounder.
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.
Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.
First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.
Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.
Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.
Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.
I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.
It's just not going to happen.
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