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Veteran Free Agent’s Who Could Bolster the Cowboys’ Pass Rush

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Veteran Free Agent's Who Could Bolster Cowboys Pass Rush

With OTAs approaching, the Dallas Cowboys will work on starting the 2017 NFL season in the best position possible. There are still a few big-name free agents who have yet to land with a team. Some may fit what the Cowboys are looking for. Others, however, whether it’s due to age or scheme fit, may not be in the Cowboys’ plans.

When we take a look at the positions, the team could still use an upgrade or a veteran presence at the defensive end position. The only issue with the team adding another defensive lineman is they already have a very crowded DE group.

The Defensive Ends

  • DeMarcus Lawrence  DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off multiple back surgeries and hasn’t lived up to his hefty expectations after the team traded up to draft him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
  • Taco Charlton – Taco Charlton, after being drafted with the 28th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, will be forced to play early and often for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas drafted Charlton to come in and compete for a starting job immediately.
  • Benson Mayowa – Benson Mayowa, the team’s sack leader in 2016, will look to regain the same form early in 2017 that he finished with in 2016. After starting out the season very slow, Mayowa turned it on in the last month of the season, finishing the season with four sacks in the final five games.
  • David Irving We saw David Irving’s ability to absolutely take over a game last year in Green Bay, and then against Tampa Bay. If Irving can learn to play at that level consistently, he may just earn himself a starting job.
  • Tyrone Crawford – Tyrone Crawford is looked at to be the veteran along the defensive line, and maybe even on the whole defense. What Crawford lacks is the skill set to really take this defense over the top.Crawford has found himself bouncing all around the line, playing both defensive end and defense tackle. With the emergence of second year player Maliek Collins and the addition of Stephen Paea and Joey Ivie, the Cowboys may make Crawford a primary left defensive end.
  • Charles Tapper – The one real question mark in the room comes with second year player, Charles Tapper. Tapper was supposed to be a big addition to the Cowboys defense last year before spending his whole season rehabbing from a back injury that has followed Tapper his whole life.Tapper has a lot of potential coming off the edge. Questions still remain with his health and if he can translate his college success to the NFL.
  • Damontre Moore – Damontre Moore was signed this offseason as a free agent after spending time with the Seahawks, Giants, and Dolphins. Moore showed flashes of why some teams viewed him as a first round pick while with the Seahawks last year. Moore by no means has a reserved spot on the team, due to his contract size, off the field issues, and his lack of consistency.

Free Agent Options

  • Dwight Freeney – Even at 37-years-old, Dwight Freeney was a valuable piece to the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl run last year. Freeney was healthy for all but one game in 2016 and finished the regular season with three sacks while playing in very limited snaps.Freeney was more than just a player for the Falcons. He was a mentor for all the young talents along that Atlanta defensive line. That’s exactly what the Cowboys need in their defensive meeting rooms.
  • Devin Taylor – I am a bit surprised Devin Taylor is still available this deep into the offseason. At just 27-years-old, Taylor should still have plenty of gas left in the tank and he would be relatively cheap. Taylor racked up 4.5 sacks in 2016 as a starter on the Detroit Lions defense. Taylor is a player who has had success in the league and could be an important role-player coming off the bench.
  • Elvis Dumervil – Dumervil is just two years removed from his 17-sack season with the Baltimore Ravens, but is now searching for a job. You don’t hear that very often.Dumervil missed about half the season last year dealing with a foot injury that kept him out eight of the team’s sixteen games. Dumervil  — when healthy — is still a very dangerous pass rusher coming off the edge.Dallas would be smart to offer Dumervil an incentive based “prove it” deal.

As you can see, the options are very limited this deep into the offseason, but one thing is for sure: injuries are going to happen and there is no such thing as too many pass rushers.

All three of the free agents listed above have had success in the league and would bring a veteran presence to a locker room full of young guys. The average age of the Cowboys’ defensive ends is 24. While youth benefits your defense, having a veteran or two in the locker room to mentor and teach the young bloods a thing or two can take an average defense over the top.

That is something the Dallas Cowboys need desperately to reach an NFC Championship.

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Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @connorx147 !

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3 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    While I believe that Dallas really wants to open camp and evaluate what they have I would love it if they signed Freeney or Dumervil. I love the idea of having these proven sack masters on the roster to specialize in passing downs and bring what they can bring. With Leon Lett as a coach and Charles Haley as a special advisor I know those guys are getting the mentoring but I also like the idea of Freeney on the field on those passing situations. He still has plenty of sacks left. The problem in adding a veteran who are you going to sacrifice. I used to advocate for Devin Taylor but he kind of fell off last year and at this point I’m not sure he is better than some of our current options. As the season gets closer to starting and our current guys need a punch, it wouldn’t surprise me if we are looking at one of these guts ….if they are still available.

  • http://insidethestar.com Tony Smalls

    Unless there is some serious injury or a player just dropping off the map (Moore or Thornton comes to mind) these FA will find work elsewhere. True that a pass rush specialist with experience would be beneficial, but I would think a trade for similar to Haley would be a better investment (Watt, a Seattle DE if they cost too much, Richardson if he realizes his market is not high, or any team that has found a cheaper younger option through draft)

  • John Williams

    Dumervil is really the only name here that I would have interest in. Otherwise, let’s see what we have.

    Can Irving and Mayowa take a step forward? What are Taco and Tapper? Does Lawrence have anything left? A lot of questions to be answered and as guys develop, you don’t want to bring in anyone who might stunt that development.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

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

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

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

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

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

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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