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Scouting Newly-Signed Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir

Sean Martin

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Evaluating talent in the NFL is all about constantly trying to find ways to improve, and it is often said that adding at least "one more guy" to a position group that seems set is a great way to instantly do just this. The Dallas Cowboys worked out Western Illinois standout WR Lance Lenoir to conclude OTAs, deciding to sign him on Tuesday for their minicamp.

I don't know about you (although in this case I might), but I certainly miss football a lot. So, I fired up some tape on FBS Western Illinois to evaluate the Cowboys' newest receiver.

Here is what I found.

Scouting Newly-Signed Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir 1

WR Lance Lenoir: Strengths

Right away, it was easy to see why Lenoir broke multiple school and Missouri Valley Conference records based on his relentless play-to-play effort. Relying on mostly physicality and length to separate and free himself for throws, Lenoir showed some impressive initial burst for his size (6000, 200 pounds) to set defenders back in their pedal before either exploding downfield or rallying back to the ball.

Lenoir has room to improve as a route runner, but he consistently gives his QB a large target to hit coming in and out of his breaks decisively and balanced.

A lot of Lance Lenoir's touches in this Western Illinois offense were scripted to some extent - whether he was thrown a screen, handed a jet sweep, or even just asked to move the chains on simple curl and dig patterns. Despite this, I think Lenoir has plenty of potential physically to develop into a more complex NFL offense thanks to his awareness in space, patience, and catch radius.

An "above-the-rim" player, Lenoir may not snag every pass thrown his way with his hands, but he does elevate effortlessly to easily beat defensive backs at the catch point. When Lenoir does receive the ball up the field, he can turn quickly to a second gear which led to massive gains with defenders chasing Lance from behind - and rarely catching him.

WR Lance Lenoir: Weaknesses

Lenoir will need to get much better at playing through contact throughout the play to even have a chance to improve as a route runner. Taking himself out of too many plays, Lenoir would allow his defender to stay on top of him and ride Lance out of the play at the stem by failing to beat them where he needed off the line.

The term "body catcher" is a dreaded one for Cowboys Nation ever since its been applied to starting WR Terrance Williams, but there were a lot of passes thrown Lance Lenoir's way that needed to be caught cleanly yet were fought into his body. Lenoir's strong hands typically found a way to win these needed balls, but giving NFL DBs these prolonged chances to separate the ball from him will not end well for Lance.

This may have been a product of Lenoir adjusting to inconsistent QB play, but I saw a lot of routes from him that were much closer to where they need to consistently be - if not for Lenoir unnecessarily bringing extra defenders to the catch point by loosely flowing out of his break instead of snapping and presenting a big target.

When its a FBS linebacker that Lenoir finds himself in position to beat, it may not be a problem, but he'll need to learn quickly that - especially with his lack of blazing speed - everyone across the field defensively at this level can present a challenge in coverage.

Scouting Newly-Signed Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir 2

WR Lance Lenoir: Summary

When the Cowboys draft a WR in the seventh round (Noah Brown) that isn't even a perceived lock to make the team, it is certainly fair to say that a UDFA signed after OTAs like Lance Lenoir faces an uphill battle to break through with America's Team.

Even still, I would not count out Lenoir as a prospect for the Cowboys' yearly fan favorite summer offensive player thanks to his aggressiveness and NFL-ready build. Lenoir should see some opportunities this week in minicamp, as starting slot WR Cole Beasley remains limited.

Catching passes from Dak Prescott and learning from the overwhelming depth Dallas has in front of him is an amazing opportunity for Lance Lenoir, who has the complete game as a versatile, consistent WR to make the absolute most of it.

Tell us what you think about "Scouting Newly-Signed Cowboys WR Lance Lenoir" 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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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

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When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

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I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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Though Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys’ Offense

Kevin Brady

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Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys' Offense

When the news broke Monday that veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb was visiting the Dallas Cowboys, most immediately assumed he would be a logical replacement for the departed Cole Beasley.

When you take a look at the film and each of their skillsets, however, you quickly see this is likely not the case.

While Cobb would be able to play in the slot as a receiver for the Cowboys if he signs, his value extends much further than just a slot receiver. Where Beasley makes his mark with precise route running, short area quickness, and 3rd down reliability, Cobb is much more of a threat after the catch. He's not the route runner that Beasley is, and really isn't an upgrade over Beasley as a receiver, but Cobb would be able to help the Cowboys' become more diverse in their offensive schemes.

Similar to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb can be used in pre snap motion and jet-sweep packages, as well as a traditional running back. A college quarterback, Cobb's versatility is what makes him so attractive to NFL teams. Cobb would actually fit more of the Lance Dunbar "scat back" role of sorts for the Cowboys than that of the Cole Beasley slot receiver role. His versatility, however, allows him to carve out a lane within the offense which they haven't quite had before.

Another area Cobb could help the Cowboys is when the play breaks down. With experience in the Packers offense playing with arguably the greatest improviser we've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers, Cobb would be able to help Dak Prescott down the field when he breaks the pocket and the play is off schedule.

So often last season we talked about how the Cowboys offense is reliant on remaining on schedule, staying in front of the chains and not having to force the ball downfield. Unleashing the Mississippi State version of Dak Prescott, where he can improvise and use his legs to create big plays, tends to be when this offense is at its best, however.

Randall Cobb won't be a Pro Bowler if the Cowboys sign him, and depending on the money he receives, it might not even be a lock that he makes the final roster. But Cobb would be an exciting addition to a Cowboys offense which has lacked "creativity" over the last few seasons, and is looking to reinvent themselves to a certain extent.

A receiving corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, with versatile weapons such as Cobb and Tavon Austin behind them, is a pretty good one to head into draft day with.

Signing Cobb would keep the Cowboys from "needing" to take a wide receiver early in the draft, and would allow them to easily shed Allen Hurns if a receiving weapon did fall to them at 58th overall.



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Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas? 1

When it comes to making trades, the Dallas Cowboys are typically the buyer and not the seller. They proved that last season when they acquired Tavon Austin, Jamize Olawale, and Jihad Ward via trade and could be looking do the same once again this offseason. That's why today I want to talk about the Cowboys putting in a call to the San Francisco 49ers to inquire about potentially trading for Solomon Thomas.

New 49ers Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek is rumored to be evaluating Solomon Thomas' film in order to determine his fit and future with the organization moving forward. This is no easy task. In his two years in the league they've tried Thomas at DE and DT, but unfortunately the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has yet to find his footing at either position.

Being a man without a position doesn't bode well for Solomon Thomas, especially after the 49ers acquired Defensive End Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs last week via trade. The 49ers are suddenly stacked along the defensive line. That's not all though, things could actually get worse for Thomas.

To further complicate matters, the 49ers could use their second overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft on the either Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. If that's what indeed happens, someone is going to be the odd man out. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that player could be Solomon Thomas.

Solomon Thomas

San Francisco 49ers DL Solomon Thomas

As a former high first-round draft pick, Thomas would count $7,678,468 against the salary cap in 2019 and $8,958,213 in 2020. That's probably more than the 49ers want to pay for a rotational/backup defensive lineman. And cutting him this season would create $16.6 million in dead money, so a trade is the logical solution.

With all that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco put Solomon Thomas on the trade block any day now. He is only two years into his four-year rookie deal and comes with a fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. That means if a team does trade for him they have him under contract for essentially three more years.

If you add all of this up, it makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They need defensive line help and Solomon Thomas needs a fresh start. The Cowboys would get a young versatile defensive lineman and the 49ers get to dump his contract while also receiving some compensation in return. It's a win-win for all parties concerned.

I know what you're thinking though. What would the Cowboys have to give up in the trade? Well, it might not be as much as you think.

Fortunately, Thomas' failure to make an impact his first two years in the NFL favor the buyer, in this case the Dallas Cowboys. He has only four career quarterback sacks, three of which came in his rookie season. Stats of course don't always tell the entire story, but game film does. Unfortunately for Thomas, he can't escape his poor play.

I believe it wouldn't take more than a 2019 fourth-round draft pick to get Solomon Thomas away from the 49ers. Remember, just last season the New England Patriots sent a third-round draft pick to San Francisco and received Offensive Tackle Trent Brown and the fifth-round pick in return. Brown was a more proven player and was in the last year of his contract.

I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of Solomon Thomas in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. If anybody can tap into his potential, Rod Marinelli can. Giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick is well worth the gamble in my opinion.

Do you think the Cowboys should inquire about trading for Solomon Thomas?



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