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Sean’s Scout: WR Allen Hurns Matches Cowboys Physical Identity on Offense

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: WR Allen Hurns Matches Cowboys Physical Identity on Offense 1

Becoming the last team in the NFL this offseason to sign an outside free agent, the Dallas Cowboys significantly upgraded their passing game with the additions of wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns.

Hurns is likely the biggest name the Cowboys will add prior to the draft, headlining a solid class of free agents that also includes LB Joe Thomas, OT Cameron Fleming, and G Marcus Martin.

Having already scouted Deonte Thompson here at Inside The Star, it is time to take a look at what Allen Hurns can bring to the Cowboys in his fifth season.

WR Allen Hurns: Strengths

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For as much buzz that has surrounded Dez Bryant this offseason in Dallas, who certainly looks to be in the team's plans for 2018, the Cowboys' newest receiver profiles very similarly to #88.

Allen Hurns is a physical, possession receiver that plays with exceptional awareness in space. Without great separating speed, Hurns is still able to set up defensive backs through his breaks to free himself and become a big target for the quarterback.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars used Hurns as a big slot target plenty of times in 2017, but this is a player that can translate his ability to track the football and catch it away from his frame to the outside with ease.

Hurns attacks the air space or "cushion" that defenders often gave him out of the slot with great length and balance. Able to snap violently through his routes -- with fluid hips for a bigger receiver -- Hurns uses his long but quick strides to create separation and burst up the field after the catch.

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Catching the ball in traffic and away from his body is not a problem for Allen Hurns, who should have a chance to quickly become a favorite target of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

Hurns is not afraid to play through contact or lower his shoulder to finish a play, adding yet another level of tenacity to a Cowboys offense that prides themselves on such toughness.

WR Allen Hurns: Weaknesses

When it comes to the pair of receivers the Cowboys have added this offseason, Deonte Thompson is the more explosive athlete to be used as a vertical target. Allen Hurns lacks the quick twitch and overall game speed to truly beat many defenders over the top.

As a true route runner, Hurns will lose some momentum as he labors through his turn back to the football, allowing DBs to recover and disrupt at the catch point. When asked to win at this catch point against these defenders, Hurns is not as consistent "above the rim" as you might expect looking at his build.

Based on just this past season's tape, it will remain to be seen how often Allen Hurns can win against tight coverage on the outside, which he'll likely see plenty of in Dallas.

My expectation is that Hurns will be just fine - a receiver the Cowboys should feel comfortable knowing what they're getting in, and one that does not come with any major weaknesses.

WR Allen Hurns: Summary

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Allen Hurns is a Dak-friendly upgrade over Terrance Williams at the Cowboys Y-WR position. While a duo of Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams was often criticized for lacking diversity, it is possible the Cowboys have paired even more similar players now with Hurns and Bryant.

For a team that wants to get back to their identity of controlling the ball on offense, I don't see Hurns hindering the Cowboys passing attack in any way - instead improving it as a player with the versatility to line up at multiple spots and get open.

Sean's Scout: WR Allen Hurns Matches Cowboys Physical Identity on Offense

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns

Dak Prescott's massive new target is a proven receiver in this league that should see plenty of throws in rhythm, signed to a two-year deal at the age of 26. Allen Hurns will be looking to prove himself in the star in hopes of earning another long-term contract, and the results should be plenty of fun for Cowboys Nation to take in.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: WR Allen Hurns Matches Cowboys Physical Identity on Offense" 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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2 Comments
  • Chuck Wright

    You had me at “he catches with his hands”. . . ..Please someone be willing to part with a 6th or 7th to take T-Will offour hands (only way to get his salary back) If nothing else, allows Da Boys to draft a potential UDFA.

  • Russ_Te

    Not drinking the Hurns Kool-aid. The guy is not fast and was released by Jax for $7 million in cap relief. You don’t do that with impact WR’s.

    Worse, the Cowboys act like not enough possession receivers is the problem and are signing WR’s without great speed – suggesting they aren’t prioritizing it for the draft either. We will apparently have to back in to the field stretcher we need to open up the passing lanes for Dak.

    If Dak is thinking the same, he needs to get vocal since this is a crossroads year for him. He should go to Jones and demand a serious speed upgrade. So far, the Cowboys are IMO an 8-8 or 9-7 team for 2018.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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