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The Untouchables: 5 Players the Dallas Cowboys Can’t Trade

John Williams

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Cowboys Expansion Draft: Protecting America's Team's Future
AP Photo/James D Smith

The other day, Marcus Mosher of Bleacher Report and the Locked on Cowboys Podcast posted a very interesting hypothetical:

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Late night #Cowboys hypothetical....Dallas has the most CB depth they've had in years. What would the compensation need to be for you to trade Jourdan Lewis?

Cowboys Nation had a lot of thoughts on the matter. From Earl Thomas to Corey Coleman to draft pick compensation to, "get outta here."

While on the surface, trading Jourdan Lewis -- arguably the best corner on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart -- seems crazy, you have to also think about it. Really, you should be thinking about almost every player on your roster and their tradability.

With Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown the top three corners -- at the moment --  in nickel situations, the team could have an opportunity to use their depth to acquire a player who helps them at a position of need. Say a TE or a WR or an interior defensive lineman...

It's these kinds of thoughts that have kept the New England Patriots as the best team in football for nearly two decades. Aside from Tom Brady, they explore everything. Everyone is tradable. Super Bowl winners, leaders on the team, star players. Everyone.

But it did have me thinking, who are the players on the Dallas Cowboys that are untouchable. I'll give you five.

1. Dak Prescott, Quarterback

As I outlined in my 2018 projection for Dak last week, I think he's a franchise quarterback that's capable of leading this team to the Super Bowl. You don't trade him and you don't think about trading him unless someone is offering you a superior quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, which they aren't.

You just don't trade young franchise caliber quarterbacks this early in their career unless they aren't working out for you anymore.

Now, the wide receiver group is devoid of the sort of gravitational pull Dez Bryant had, but Dak will be as efficient as he was in 2016 at getting the ball to the open man.

Dak is going to have his best season yet in 2018 and the Dallas Cowboys will reap the rewards.

2. Zack Martin, Guard

As he prepares to become the highest paid guard in the NFL, Zack Martin is an anchor on an offensive line that is the best in the NFL.

He was the final piece to the puzzle when they drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and he hasn't disappointed. Here's the resume:

  • Two-time First Team All-Pro
  • Two-time Second Team All-Pro
  • Four-time Pro Bowler

Yes, the contract is rich, but he pretty much sums up your identity as the Dallas Cowboys. Big, strong, athletic, and physical in a run game that has become the bread and butter of this team over the last four seasons.

Going into his fifth season at right guard, there's no sign that he's slowing down in his play and production.

He's the best in the NFL at his position and you don't trade that away willy-nilly.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Broncos

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

3. DeMarcus Lawrence, Defensive End

Finding elite pass rush is about as difficult as it is to find elite tackle play. Make no mistake about it, DeMarcus Lawrence is elite. After 2018, the rest of the NFL will think so too.

Lawrence's ability to rush the passer and play the run with equal effectiveness is what makes him so good. He was on the field for 67% of the team's defensive snaps, and nobody along the defensive line played more than he did.

In 2017, Lawrence received his first All-Pro selection after a 14.5 sack season. He did that while only having David Irving for eight games last season. Imagine if Irving isn't suspended or concussed.

The two seasons "Tank" has played all 16 games, Lawrence had eight sacks in 2015 and 14.5 in 2017. Once you find an elite pass rusher, you don't let him walk away.

Get ready to pay out some cash in the 2019 offseason.

4. Tyron Smith, Tackle

Sure, Tyron Smith has dealt with back injuries that have limited his play some over the last several years, but even in a limited capacity, he's better than all but a few offensive tackles in the NFL.

In his career he's only missed seven games, though six have come in the last two seasons combined. He's only 28 years old and has several years of his prime left to make a significant impact for the Dallas Cowboys.

5. Travis Frederick, Center

While not nearly as valuable as the offensive tackle on your football team, and perhaps not as dominant as Zack Martin, Travis Frederick is elite in his own right.

Keeping the front side of the pocket clean for a quarterback to step into is so valuable, and Frederick does an amazing job at that.

Sam Monson on Twitter

Travis Frederick has surrendered one sack over the past four seasons. The end.

As the leader of the offensive line, his intelligence and defensive recognition helps everyone along the line.

Having an elite center isn't something you usually think of when it comes to roster construction priorities, but when you don't have it, you notice it. You may not notice Frederick's greatness on every play, but that's probably a good thing. He does his job and the offense flourishes with him at the center of it.

Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Honorable Mentions

Sean Lee, Linebacker

Though he's 32, we saw what the defense looked like without him last season. Given that the rest of the linebacking options are unproven, you don't want to move his leadership ability and talent level.

Jourdan Lewis, Cornerback

Like I said earlier, he may be the best corner on the team, and with the NFL employing three wide receiver sets more than 70% of the time and using quick-hit passes over the middle to move their offense down the field, Lewis is very valuable.

He's sticky and aggressive, both things that make a slot corner very important to a defense. While he may be behind Anthony Brown at the moment, don't expect that to continue.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back

The general perception around the league is that the running back position has become devalued. I'd argue that the second contract at the running back position has become devalued. Team's still want elite runners like Ezekiel Elliott or Todd Gurley, they're just becoming less likely to pay them elite money for their second contract. Elliott's about to turn 23 and will have three more seasons before he hits the dreaded 27-year-old RB decline.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

I do think the Dallas Cowboys -- like the Patriots -- should look at most of their players as opportunities to upgrade, but these are a few that I'd be less likely to deal.

Who are your Dallas Cowboys untouchables?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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Star Blog

DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Star Blog

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

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

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

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

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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