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If the Season Started Today (Offense )…

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Injury Report: Dallas Cowboys At Buffalo Bills

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what kind of team the Cowboys would be fielding if the season started today. They have 62 players under contract right now, which is nine more than they'll have in Week One. How set are they at some positions, and how much more work is needed at others?

We're going to divide this up into separate articles for the offense and defense. Here's a projection of what the Cowboys offense would look like using the currently signed players:

QUARTERBACK

Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Jameil Showers

If Dallas decides to wait one more year before drafting a quarterback than this could easily be the QB depth chart in 2016. They may just go with two quarterbacks if Showers or some other prospect isn't worth holding with a roster spot.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Must Start Kellen MooreMoore isn't the Messiah that some claim him to be but at least he's been around a while and will now have a full offseason with the Cowboys. It is important to remember that Moore was signed in September last year so missed out on training camp and preseason with Dallas. There is the possibility for him to be much improved in our system in 2016.

Personally, I'm not very high on Moore and would like to see the Cowboys spend at least a mid-round pick on a QB to work with. I wish they could have landed Matt Moore as a backup option and hope they will pursue one more veteran, also. They could run with what they have, but I sure hope they look to improve.

RUNNING BACK

Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Rod Smith, Ben Malena

lance-dunbarDallas just re-signed Dunbar yesterday and will hope he can return to the role he was serving last year. That alone would take some touches way from McFadden, who needs to be handled carefully after such a heavy workload last year.

Given injury concerns for McFadden and Dunbar you'd assume that they will keep four runners this year. Smith is a bruiser and Malena is a speed back, but neither is at all proven. Dallas also has to think about the future with both McFadden and Dunbar on expiring deals. I imagine they will draft someone of consequence in April.

WIDE RECEIVER

Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead

I don't expect the Cowboys to add anyone of note here. Williams and Butler will likely compete for a starting job and they will be happy with the loser of that battle as a backup. Whitehead should be locked in to his roster spot for return duties alone and was starting to find an offensive niche late last year.

TIGHT END

Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Geoff Swaim

Hanna's new contract pays him an average of $2.75 million a year, which is pretty rich for a backup. That deal tells me Hanna is now ahead of Escobar on the depth chart. What's more, Dallas may utilize Hanna as a backfield blocker rather than add a more traditional fullback.

Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: TE Gavin EscobarIf he has been passed by Hanna, will Escobar even be on next year's roster? It's the last year of his rookie deal and he's owed $1.3 million. He could be released for about $1 million is cap savings. Escobar will certainly be in camp and preseason, but could Dallas cut him for cheaper depth options? He will need to start making some plays again, like the one pictured here, to save himself.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Charles Brown

The Cowboys have the bare minimum right now for next year; two starters and a veteran swing tackle. They will certainly have some younger prospects in camp and may even draft one in the middle rounds as an eventual replacement for Free. However, this was their trio last year and they could stick with it if need be.

GUARD & CENTER

Zack Martin, La'el Collins, Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary, Chaz Green

Green was drafted as a tackle but was taking practice snaps at guard last year, and at least one Cowboys insider says that's where he will be going forward. Leary is back for at least one more year an overqualified backup.

Backup center is the glaring issue here. Mackenzy Bernadeau is gone and neither of these backups has shown the ability to play that role. The emergency plan seems to be having Martin slide over and play it, but I imagine they will bring in some prospects before we get to Oxnard.

~ ~ ~

As you can see, there is at least a workable team among these players but still opportunities for better depth and long-term prospects. One more quality running back is the most glaring need, though personally I want to see them with more behind Tony Romo as well.

The good news is that, unlike with the defense, Dallas can go into April's draft without feeling forced to fill any holes. They can stick to their board and go with the best talents.

Speaking of the defense, look for that breakdown tomorrow.

 


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments
  • George Johnson

    Jess Haynie: I guess I disagree with your statement that." I am not very high on Kellen Moore and hope they bring in at least a mid-round pick to work with." A mid round pick IMO is not likely to ever beat out Kellen Moore. K Moore has proven at this point he should have been drafted in 2012, at least in later rounds. The draft QB class that K Moore was in is way better than this years QB class. In this years class K Moore should be a mid-round pick. K Moore is more likely to develop into T Romo's replacement than a mid-round draft pick in the 2016 draft. I do agree that an experienced QB or a franchise type QB in the draft, if there are any, should be brought into compete with K Moore for 2nd team QB position. When you say you are not very high on K Moore, I am not sure of why you think this way. He has always played way better than he looks. He looks like the equipment manager, not an NFL QB. He is a master at pocket passing with physical limitations including not having a real strong arm. (i.e. velocity) The question is are his skills/abilities to be a pocket passer so outstanding that he can overcome or compensate for his physical limitations? I believe S Linehan thinks so and that's why he keeps supporting K Moore. Also, I put a lot of weight on his college coaches statement after his senior year, and I quote, " K Moore is the best pocket passer I have EVER SEEN". He didn't say ever coached or ever played against, but ever seen. I assume he has seen P Manning, T Brady and D Brees. Maybe not. Anyhow this is a strong statement from a respected coach who is not known to be outspoken.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    One of these days, George, you've got to tell me what the hell your obsession is with Kellen Moore. I mean, dude… I don't think (I know, actually) I've ever seen a fan SO supportive of a single player, especially one that has only ever started because of injury and didn't win a starting job out of that. Gotta respect the support you show, but I seriously don't understand it.

    • George Johnson

      Bryson Treece: I have followed him since he was a Sophomore in high school and read everything said about him. He almost broke some national high school QB records and probably would have if he hadn't played only about three quarters a game because of big leads. I had followed college and high school football and this kid was extremely talented and mature in his playing for a high school QB. His accuracy was out of this world for a high school QB. I was extremely impressed and thought he would be a star in college. K Moore wanted to play in the Pac-10 and preferably at Washington State. The Pac-10 coaches thought he was too small and a product of his dad's system. I was shocked by these comments but figured I must not know certain things because I am no coach and never played football at the college level. The Boise State head coach, Peterson had to be talked into giving him a scholarship by the defensive coordinator who had recruited in Washington State and everyone at the high school level said K Moore was the best player in the state. This coordinator was also impressed with seeing K Moore play in person and/or on tape. I was shocked that the Pac-10 schools were passing on this kid. I had never seen a high school QB that was this talented. I had become a big fan at that time and followed K Moore over his four year career at Boise State. I was again shocked when K Moore was not drafted and the NFL experts said they questioned whether he could even play in the NFL. All he had done at the college level is turn into one of the all time best pocket passers in the history of college football. His college coach said he was the best pocket passer he had ever seen. He almost set a new four year record for fewest interceptions so his lack of a strong arm did not seem to cause interceptions at the college level. I followed K Moore at Detroit and now in Dallas. I have seen most of his games including all his preseason games and season games last year in the NFL. He has continued to play at a high level in preseason games but mostly at 3rd team. As an example he had a 108 QB rating in preseason games in Detroit in 2014. I have posted a lot about K Moore because I know a lot about him and everything that has been said about him. I see post after post that don't have any faith in K Moore and have no idea how good he really is. He tends to be judged even by coaches by his looks and he doesn't look and throw like an NFL QB. I try to be objective and point out what I know. I was the first to admit I wasn't sure he could play in the NFL because of his physical limitations but suspected that he probably could. I am more confident now than at any time that he can play in the NFL either as a top backup or possibly even a starter someday if he keeps improving. More importantly S Linehan seems to think highly of K Moore also and seems to understands that he can get the job done with his own set of skills/abilities even though he lacks the cannon arm. I think he will get a chance to prove himself because of S Linehan. He may be able to overcome or compensate for his physical weaknesses with his skills/abilities at pocket passing which are outstanding. He can't and never will be able to make the rocket throws that a QB like M Stafford can. I could see him being the first QB in the history of the NFL to play in the NFL with his set of physical limitations. I guess I am obsessed but this is because people over and over again criticize K Moore at the NFL level and have little faith in him because he wasn't drafted and doesn't look like an NFL QB. He has always played way better than what people think he can play. This happened in college and his entry into the NFL and is continuing. Just like the NFL draft experts, they don't fully understand the skills/abilities he has because they are mostly cerebral except for his accuracy and quick release. They can see his physical limitations including not having a strong arm. I try to point out in an objective manner what he can do and not do and why.

  • zeakins

    what happened to Devin Street? I mean after watching him play last year I guess it is pretty easy to forget he exists but alas he is still on the roster.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece
    InsideTheStar.com User

    what happened to Devin Street? I mean after watching him play last year I guess it is pretty easy to forget he exists but alas he is still on the roster.

    True, he is still on the roster. An oversight that I am really hoping gets fixed by training camp. The dude is a less talented version of Mr. Body Catch (Terrance Williams)… not impressed or enthused to have him on the field in 2016.

  • http://www.pigskinhub.com/forum/index.php?forums/dallas-cowboys/ Jess Haynie

    Street is a goner barring injury or a miraculous improvement in this year's camp. He would be #6 guy now given Whithead's special teams role. At this point, Dallas would probably use that roster spot elsewhere.

Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" 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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Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury

Sean Martin

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Should Cowboys Start Negotiating a Contract Extension With Rod Smith?

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.

https://twitter.com/thejaylonsmith/status/964606764619624453

This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.

It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.

The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.

He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.

Tell us what you think about "Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott

2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.

But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?

Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.

A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.

According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.

Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.

Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.

Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.

It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats" 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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