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Undrafted Free Agents Have Uphill Battle To Make Cowboys Roster

Brian Martin

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Can An UFA Make The Cowboys 53-Man Roster In 2017?

The Dallas Cowboys are a very good football team and have a deep roster to prove it. From top to bottom they have arguably the best depth they have had in several years, which will make it really difficult to earn a spot on the Cowboys roster. This is especially true for the rookie draft class, but might be nearly impossible for any undrafted free agents.

The Dallas Cowboys have been known to find some hidden gems from the undrafted free agents they have signed in the past. Ronald Leary, La'el Collins, Cole Beasley, Barry Church, and Jeff Heath are just a few who have come in and not only contributed, but become starters. But, this year UFAs are going to have a really hard time earning a roster spot.

The Cowboys can only carry 53 players on the roster heading into the 2017 season, and a lot of those spots are already spoken for. All of the other Cowboys roster spots are few and far between, which makes training camp extremely important for these undrafted free agents.

After scouring over the Cowboys' roster, there aren't very many names that stand out among the UFAs. In fact, I think there are only three that have a legitimate chance at earning one of those coveted roster spots: RB Jahad Thomas, OL Dan Skipper, and OG Nate Theaker.

Dan Skipper

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Jahad Thomas, Dan Skipper, and Nate Theaker should also be considered longshots to make the Cowboys roster, but I think all of them have a slight chance if they can prove themselves worthy. But, each one of them is really going to have to catch the coaching staff's eye in training camp and prove themselves better than their competition.

Of the three, I think Jahad Thomas probably has the best chance to make the Cowboys roster. The offense could you really use another receiving type back after the departure of Lance Dunbar in free agency. That is probably Thomas' best trait, but he's really going to have to improve in all other areas of his game. It's going to be difficult, but he could take over that Lance Dunbar role in 2017.

Dan Skipper is a big man (6'10", 311), and is hopping to throw his name in the hat for one of those vacant offensive line spots at either offensive guard or tackle. The Cowboys have been working him out at guard, but he was a fixture at OT during his tenure at Arkansas. His biggest hurdle that he needs to overcome his blocking technique. If he can improve that, he has a chance to make the Cowboys roster.

Of all of the undrafted free agents, my dark horse to make the Cowboys roster in 2017 is Nate Theaker. He played both tackle positions at Wayne State and also right guard. He has the size teams look for in an offensive lineman (6'5", 315), but it's a big jump in competition from Wayne State to the NFL. He's probably destined for the practice squad, but he still has a chance to make the roster.

Due to the depth the Dallas Cowboys have throughout the roster, it is extremely important the coaching staff gets things right when making cuts. All of the available spots are at a premium and I don't know if any of the undrafted free agents are good enough to claim one.

Do you think any of the UFAs make the Cowboys roster?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Corey

    June 29, 2017 at 10:50 am

    These are some pretty good rookies, I would also like to see WR Noah Brown make the roster. He is about the same size as Bryant and plays with the same intensity. Give him a year or 2 to learn from Bryant, and I think they have a very good WR to take some of the coverage off of Bryant

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      June 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Corey, I’m a big fan of Noah Brown. I think he can make the roster this season if the Cowboys carry six wide receivers or if he can prove himself more valuable than Brice Butler.

      • Corey

        June 29, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        I really don’t think that will be a problem being more valuable than Butler. Butler never worked out in Oakland, and so far he hasn’t worked out in Dallas. I actually like Brice Butler and if he puts it all together he could be a dependable deep threat, but I watched him blow some easy catches last season, maybe Noah Brown will push him to be better, and if not, well bye, bye Bryce

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          June 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm

          Butler supposedly has looked really good so far this off-season and has the added benefit of being in the system now for a few years. But, he doesn’t play special teams like Noah Brown does and isn’t nearly as good of a blocker either. Brown can be used in several different ways, but Butler’s experience gives them a leg up. It’s going to be a fun training camp battle to follow.

          • Assassin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm

            That Noah Brown catch in the bowl was off the charts … dang! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTRAF8K6NXg

          • Assassin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm

            add – Zeke is a huge fan and friend of his. Good guy to have on your side on the Cowboys

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm

            Brown can be really useful in the running game with the way he prides himself on his blocking. Probably why Elliott is such a big fan ha ha.

          • Assassin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:47 pm

            Good point. Brown could also be a backup TE/HBack/FB similar to the way the Eagles used Keith Jackson in the late 80s, early 90’s

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:49 pm

            I’ve written about that in another article before. I think he could be an emergency TE/H back, while also playing special teams and filling in at WR from time to time. I love how much he can possibly do.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

            He definitely has the talent, but he still really young (19) and still needs to develop. But, I think the Cowboys found a hidden gem in the seventh round.

          • Assassin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:45 pm

            Realistically, if he can play special teams his rookie year without making mistakes, he has a shot to make the team.

            Add – by drafting Switzer, Lucky Whitehead may be on the chopping block. Switzer is just as fast, maybe quicker, doesnt fumble as much and is gonna be a lot of fun. Great personality. His teammates gravitate toward him. If Whitehead is out, this may open the last spot in the WR rotation

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            June 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            I think it will come down to it the Cowboys decide to keep five or six wide receivers. If it’s just five, Butler might be kept over Brown because of his experience in the system. But, I agree that Brown has a chance to make the team because of his special-teams ability.

          • #demboyz

            July 3, 2017 at 9:29 am

            Brian Brown has a chance to make the team; this kid has it all….great hips, hands, deceptive speed ,and he is as smooth as glass when he runs his routes. I can’t wait until the rubber meets the road—pads and preseason! He has a future in the NFL; I hope Dallas keeps him.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            July 3, 2017 at 10:08 am

            I like Brian Brown as well, but I think he’s probably buried too far on the depth chart right now to make the team. I think his best bet is making the practice squad and sticking around that way.

          • Corey

            June 29, 2017 at 2:09 pm

            Yes it is

  2. Assassin

    June 29, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Do you have the overall list of UFAs available

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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

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Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.

Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.

And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.

Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.

Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.

In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.

Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.

Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.

The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.

If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!



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