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Sean’s Scout: CB Bene Benwikere An Active Addition to Secondary

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Acquired CB Bene Benwikere An Active Addition to Secondary 1

One of the most surprising roster moves the Dallas Cowboys made yesterday was waiving rookie cornerback Marquez White, a move that became possible after the team traded for experienced CB Bene Benwikere prior to the cut down deadline.

When I originally scouted Marquez White right here at Inside The Star, I thought he could quickly prove to be a fifth round steal thanks to his size and scheme fit for Rod Marinelli. Instead, with Jourdan Lewis still sidelined with his hamstring injury, the Cowboys felt better about Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown, Orlando Scandrick, Chidobe Awuzie, and Bene Benwikere being their five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster.

Benwikere has bounced around plenty of teams after being cut by the Carolina Panthers in 2016, where I went back to his tape to scout what the Cowboys added to their secondary in this newest edition of Sean's Scout.

Sean's Scout: Acquired CB Bene Benwikere An Active Addition to Secondary

26 NOV 2015: Carolina Panthers Cornerback Bene Benwikere (25) [11854] rips the ball loose, but Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Cole Beasley (11) [18238] is ruled down during the NFL Thanksgiving game between the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire)

CB Ben Benwikere: Strengths

Like White, Bene Benwikere was a fifth round draft pick back in the 2014 Draft. Selected by the Carolina Panthers out of San Jose State, Benwikere was thought of highly by the organization as they traded up to take him.

Despite moving on from Benwikere after an infamous performance by the Panthers defense at the Falcons in week four of this season - where they allowed over 500 yards passing - there is plenty to like on the tape from this 5110, 195 pound defensive back.

Bene Benwikere Cowboys - Streamable

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The first thing that jumped out when studying Benwikere was his quick twitch movement ability and balance. This is an incredibly active player that can diagnose routes developing in front of him with adequate break on the ball.

As a sideline to sideline defender, Benwikere makes up for lack of pure, straight-line speed with the controllable burst to use the sideline to his advantage and funnel throws into coverage. His raw measurements may not be ideal for the NFL at cornerback, but the traits are there for Benwikere - as seen in the interception above as he finds a way to finish the play with his length, fluid athleticism, and balance in zone coverage.

It is this zone coverage that Benwikere was mostly asked to play in Carolina, and it is something we can expect to see more of from Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli in 2017.

While his technique and coverage assignments made it hard to solely evaluate Benwikere without the talent around him, his ability to create leverage in coverage and make up for any lapses with incredible change of direction skills is something the Cowboys can look forward to adding.

CB Bene Benwikere: Weaknesses

Bene Benwikere Cowboys - Streamable

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As mentioned, Benwikere is an incredibly active player with his foot speed. This naturally causes him to overrun some plays - particularly in run defense as Bene was asked to play in the box as a Nickel defensive back quite often.

I did see Benwikere meet opposing running backs in the hole with some stopping power on a few occasions, but his angles often left a lot to be desired when filling against the run.

Assuming for a second the Cowboys want to use Benwikere as a boundary cornerback with slot experience, relying on Orlando Scandrick inside, they are getting a player that has little experience getting physical with wide receivers and jamming their route.

Playing through any contact at all is a concern for Benwikere, as he'll get caught with his weight and momentum going backwards too often. This not only allows blockers to control Benwikere, but receivers entering his zone can easily undercut him and create separation that Bene will struggle to close up with the ball in the air.

There just aren't many plays where Bene Benwikere is being a disruptive player, something the Cowboys are looking for more of in their defensive backs.

Bene Benwikere Cowboys - Streamable

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CB Bene Benwikere: Summary

Since the moment he was drafted, everyone has realized that the Cowboys will need big things out of their second round pick Chidobe Awuzie out of Colorado. With the cut down day acquisition of Bene Benwikere, who has spent time with the Dolphins, Packers, and Bengals since his release by the Panthers in 2016, this remains the truth as Awuzie remains one of this team's top four cornerbacks.

As a depth piece to provide comfort and experience at the fifth cornerback position, it doesn't get much better than Bene Benwikere though.

A player that should fit this Dallas scheme well enough to contribute if called upon and not allow big plays, with the traits to flash around the ball occasionally, Bene Benwikere is a quality addition to a still-uncertain Cowboys secondary.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: CB Bene Benwikere An Active Addition to Secondary" 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 Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment
  • Russ_Te

    More unsettled questions, & moving parts on defense to start this year than usual. Not getting much from the secondary rookies in pre-season, means little margin of error for the Jones’s, Scandrick’s & Heath’s until they can get help.

    Marinelli’s guys are organized & play with intensity, which is IMO the only likely saving grace for the 1st half of the season. On paper, this defense is heading for early-season problems both in pass-rush and in coverage.

    You’ve got to limit their reps with the run offense / TOP, and when it’s a big 3rd down I think Marinelli will blitz more than he likes to normally. I certainly do not want the Eli’s of the league, to stand unmolested when they need a big play.

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Cowboys en Español: DeMarcus Lawrence, ¿Etiqueta o Contrato?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Broncos

El pasado martes 20 de febrero, comenzó a lo que se le puede llamar una especie de "prólogo" a la agencia libre. Esa fecha marcó el primer día para que los equipos de la NFL designen jugadores franquicia o de transición. Alrededor de la liga, muchos nombres como el de Le'Veon Bell resaltan en esta conversación.

Y uno de los más grandes y conocidos, es el del defensive end de los Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Lawrence.

Hace unos días, se reportó que los Cowboys le darían la etiqueta franquicia a D-Law, algo que todos veíamos venir desde hace rato. Sin embargo, aún no se le otorga dicha etiqueta, sino que lo harán más cerca de la fecha límite para hacerlo, el 6 de Marzo.

En enero escribí un poco más a fondo sobre como funcionan las etiquetas franquicia en la NFL. 

Al inicio de su carrera, Lawrence fue un tanto decepcionante. No logró mantenerse sano, recibió una suspensión de cuatro juegos en el 2016 y antes de la última temporada, no había sido nada especial. Sin embargo, en el 2017 estuvo entre los mejores defensivos de la liga.

Lawrence logró capturar 14.5 veces a los quarterbacks contrarios (había conseguido sólo nueve en toda su carrera) y 35 tackles. No sólo mejoró increíblemente presionando el juego aéreo, sino que también se convirtió en una fuerza contra el juego terrestre.

Podemos hablar de estadísticas todo lo que queramos, pero creo que todos vimos lo que sucedió en el campo semana tras semana.

Un jugador que juegue de la manera que jugó DeMarcus este 2017, merece un gran, gran contrato. El problema es, que esta ha sido su única buena temporada. Y ahora la administración tiene que decidir que hacer respecto a este joven talento de sólo 25 años de edad.

¿Dejar que juegue en el 2018 bajo la etiqueta franquicia? ¿O darle un contrato a largo plazo, asegurando que use la Estrella por varios años?

Definitivamente no es una opción tan fácil como parece. Stephen y Jerry Jones han sido criticados por mucho los últimos años (bastantes veces erróneamente), y Lawrence es una oportunidad perfecta para lucirse... o quedar mal con su afición por muchos años.

Cowboys Planning

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

¿Qué si le dan una jugosa extensión de contrato y nunca volvemos a ver al mismo jugador que vimos dominar líneas ofensivas en el 2017? ¿Qué pasa si por alguna razón juega en otro equipo tras el 2018, y termina siendo uno de los mejores de la NFL?

Según reportes, Lawrence está pidiendo 17 millones por año, lo cuál lo pondría entre los mejores pagados de su posición actualmente. El DE de los Giants Olivier Vernon promedia esa cantidad, y sorpresa, sorpresa... ambos jugadores cuentan con el mismo agente.

Finalmente, por años hemos ansiado un caza cabezas para los Dallas Cowboys. Año tras año, hablamos de novatos como Joey Bosa o agentes libres como Dwight Freeney que podrían cambiar el rumbo de la defensiva de este equipo.

Pues ahora, los Cowboys cuentan con uno.

Sí, no se mantuvo sano durante los primeros tres años de su carrera, pero cuando lo estuvo demostró ser un jugador de mucha calidad. Quizá esta vez, si sea la ocasión para romper el cochinito y pagarle su merecido dinero a Lawrence.

Y con un poco de suerte, seguirá siendo el mismo que fue la temporada pasada y los Cowboys contarán con un excelente jugador en su línea defensiva.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: DeMarcus Lawrence, ¿Etiqueta o Contrato?" 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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Will Jeff Heath be a Starter or Backup in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season 1
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

There seems to be quite a bit of optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys secondary after the hiring of Kris Richard. A lot of Cowboys Nation is hoping that he can re-create the "Legion of Boom" here in Dallas, but do the Cowboys have the personnel to do it?

There's no denying the Cowboys have some very talented young defensive backs. Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods all had fantastic rookie seasons and they have only started to scratch the surface of their true potential. We could even throw Anthony Brown into that conversation as well, even though he struggled at times in 2017.

Kris Richard definitely has something to work with, at least at cornerback. But, the safety position for the Cowboys could probably use an upgrade.

I wouldn't be all that surprised if we see completely new faces starting at safety for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. There have already been rumors Byron Jones might be moving back to cornerback. That would leave Jeff Heath as the only Cowboy safety with any kind of starting experience.

Unfortunately, Jeff Heath has been the favorite whipping boy for a lot of Cowboys fans. When there was blame to be placed in the secondary, it usually fell on Heath's shoulders whether it was warranted or not.

Jeff Heath

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath

Kris Richard will probably have a pretty big input on who the Cowboy starting safeties will be next season. You can bet he has already evaluated every single one of his secondary players and already has a pretty good idea of how he wants to deploy them.

Right now, the biggest enigma in the Cowboy secondary has to be the safety position and more importantly what to do with Jeff Heath. Will he be a starter or backup in 2018?

Heath actually performed pretty well in 2017. He finished the season with 71 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions. That compares pretty favorably with the safety everybody wants to bring to Dallas, Earl Thomas, who finished last season with 88 tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. But, we all know statistics don't show the big picture.

We all know Earl Thomas is the more talented of the two players, but that's not to say Jeff Heath isn't worthy of his starting job. I know some of you will disagree, but I believe he proved that last season.

What happens to Jeff Heath in 2018 will likely depend on what the Dallas Cowboys are able to do in free agency and through the draft. Adding another safety at some point is definitely an offseason priority, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be an upgrade over Heath.

As things stand right now, Jeff Heath is still penciled in as one of the starting safeties heading into the 2018 season. The other starting safety spot is up for grabs. Who knows, maybe we'll see completely new faces at the safety position, much like we did at CB last year.

Do you think Jeff Heath remains the starting safety?


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Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?

Fortune favors the bold. It's a rough translation of an old Latin proverb and the mantra I believe the Dallas Cowboys should indoctrinate this offseason.

I think it's time the Dallas Cowboys start to make a few bold moves. I truly believe they are close to competing for a championship title and one or two offseason moves could increase those odds. One such move would be to sign restricted free agent (RFA) Shaquil Barrett to an offer sheet.

It's expected that the Denver Broncos will place a second-round tender on Barrett and I think the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to explore the possibility of signing him to a contract sheet. If Denver declines to match the offer, the Cowboys would then send them their second round draft pick as compensation.

You on board?

Probably not at this point, but let me try to explain why I believe this is a good move on the Cowboys part, even if it is an uncharacteristic one.

You see, the Cowboys could definitely use someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and I think Shaquil Barrett could be the solution.

I know it sounds like a lot to give up a second round draft pick, but the Cowboys have been deplorable at drafting players in the second round the past decade. Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, and possibly Jaylon Smith have really been the only "hits" the Cowboys have found in the second round. That's simply unacceptable!

So, why not use that second rounder to acquire a player who is already a proven commodity in the NFL?

Shaquil Barrett

Denver Broncos OLB Shaq Barrett (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

I know the first thing a lot of you are going to do is to look up Shaquil Barrett's stats to see what he has accomplished in the NFL. But, stats don't always show the big picture.

You see, Barrett has been stuck behind some pretty talented pass rushers in Denver, so his statistics aren't going to jump off the paper. But, when given the opportunity he has proven he deserves a larger role. That's where the Dallas Cowboys come in.

The Broncos probably don't have the money to keep Shaquil Barrett if the Cowboys sign him to a contract sheet. It doesn't necessarily even have to be a big money contract offer. The Broncos simply don't have the salary cap to do much, especially considering they are still looking for a starting quarterback.

I honestly like the idea of the Cowboys going after Barrett. You may have forgotten, but he gave a healthy Tyron Smith fits last season.

With an injured Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett got the start against the Cowboys in 2017 and finished the game with two quarterback hits, six QB pressures, and five stops. No other player found that kind of success against Tyron Smith all season, even when he was banged up.

Unfortunately, when Shane Ray returned, Barrett's usage on defense declined. That's why you can't always judge a players productivity by statistics. You have to judge him more on a per-snap basis, and if you do that you will discover he was very effective as both a pass rusher and run stopper.

I believe Barrett is ready for a full-time role. Yes, he has been used as a standup 3-4 OLB with the Broncos, but he has the required traits to put his hand on the ground and maintain his effectiveness.

The downside to all of this is the Dallas Cowboys would have to give up their second-round draft pick, but draft picks are sometimes overvalued anyways. Shaquil Barrett is probably better than anybody the Cowboys could draft in the second round, so I say pull the trigger.

Should the Cowboys sign Shaquil Barrett to a contract sheet?


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