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What Roger Staubach and Jaylon Smith Have in Common

Per usual, the Cowboys are taking a lot of heat. What else is new? The Cowboys almost always have a target on their back that haters aim their criticisms at; it comes with the territory of being America’s Team. The Cowboys’ draft received a “C” grade from experts, due in part for taking a chance on two players. They took Jaylon Smith in the second round, in spite of his knee injury that may prevent him from seeing the field until next season.

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Cowboys Headlines - A Comparison of Risky Draft Picks 1

Per usual, the Cowboys are taking a lot of heat. What else is new? The Cowboys almost always have a target on their back that haters aim their criticisms at; it comes with the territory of being America's Team.

The Cowboys' draft received a "C" grade from experts, due in part for taking a chance on two players. They took Jaylon Smith in the second round, in spite of his knee injury that may prevent him from seeing the field until next season. They also drafted Rico Gathers who hasn’t played football since middle school. The Cowboys expect him to play Tight End.

History is in the Cowboys' favor when it comes to draft picks such as these. For example, when I think of a player that's unable to suit up the season they’re drafted, like Jaylon Smith, I think of another Dallas Cowboy, Roger Staubach.

Cowboys Headlines - What Smith and Staubach Have in CommonRoger Staubach was drafted in 1964 by the Cowboys, and although he is in the Hall-of-Fame now, he was a considered a risk for any NFL front office on draft day.

Staubach, at the time, owed the Navy five years of military service - a deal he made when accepted into the Naval Academy. He would not begin playing professionally until 1969, as a 27-year-old rookie.

He would practice and train with the Cowboys during his leaves from the Navy. When Staubach had served his five years, he went to work in Dallas.

Even though he missed four seasons, he made up for it with five Super Bowl appearances and two championships. So going a year (or five) without playing football, does not mean a player forgets how to play football.

Cowboys Headlines - What Jaylon Smith and Roger Staubach Have in CommonWhen I think of draft picks who've never played football, like Gathers, the list of successful players is very long. There have been many players to make the switch, especially from basketball to football.

For example, after being told by scouts that he wouldn't make it in the NBA, Antonio Gates arranged a workout in front of NFL scouts. This year Gates scored his 101st career touchdown reception and signed a 2-year contract extension to remain with the Chargers.

Other success stories include, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas. The switch from basketball to football can be done, and done successfully.

Besides, this isn’t the first time the Cowboys have drafted a player in this situation. “The Bullet” Bob Hayes had his finest hour as a sprinter in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. First, he won the 100m, tying the then world record. This was followed up with a second gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay, which also produced a new world record.

After being the fastest man on the planet, the Cowboys drafted him in the 1964 NFL Draft to play wide receiver. Hayes' first two seasons were his most successful, during which he led the NFL both times in receiving touchdowns with 12 and 13, respectively.

Cowboys Headlines - What Jaylon Smith and Roger Staubach Have in Common 1

So what that Jaylon Smith must take a year off? Who cares that Rico Gathers didn't play college football? Sure, there’s a risk with both Smith and Gathers but let’s be clear, every pick is a risky pick. It’s a crap-shoot either way. There's no sure fire way to know a player's full potential. There’s room for an incredible payoff for these rookies like there have been in the past with similar Cowboy picks.

These players could be blessings and in two or three years, experts could look back and say that the Cowboys got these guys at great deals. I look forward to watching Smith's and Gathers' careers unfold, because it will be a great story when they do.



I was born and raised in New York state's Hudson Valley and now attend school in New Jersey. Although I live in Montclair, my heart will always have a soft spot for Dallas, Texas. As an intern for Inside the Star, I now have a legitimate reason for the Cowboys to consume my life. Before, I was just a Cowboy fan with no life ... and very concerned parents. When I'm not writing about the Cowboys, I enjoy reading, seeing plays, creative writing, watching TV, and making my friends and family laugh. Follow me on Twitter, so we can connect on all topics related to America's Team. How 'bout em!

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2 Comments
  • Yuma Cactus

    Bob Hates played college football at Florida A & M.

    • Dante Giannetta

      That's right, he went there on a football scholarship. He would run wind sprints at the end of every practice. When he noticed he was running faster than everyone that was when he went on to track. My point was that he had his finest hour as a track star before the NFL.

Star Blog

Does DT David Irving Have a Future With the Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Does DT David Irving Have a Future With Cowboys?
Albert Pena/CSM/REX/Shutter

The 2018 season was supposed to be a big one for Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving. It was supposed to be the year he would finally put everything together both on and off the field. Unfortunately, that's not what will happen and he will once again miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension.

Just like in 2017, David Irving will miss the first four games of the 2018 season this year because he violated the substance abuse policy once again. It's definitely not the way he probably would've liked to start off the season, especially since it's a contract year. But, it is what it is now.

It wasn't all that long ago that David Irving was performing like one of the best defensive tackles in the entire NFL. He absolutely dominated last season and ranked right up there at the top in quarterback sacks amongst the defensive tackles. He finished with seven QB sacks in just eight games. That's nearly a sack a game.

There is no denying how talented David Irving is and how he can impact a game when he's on the field. Unfortunately, it's the off the field stuff that has probably kept him from receiving a long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys so far. This latest incident might have shut that door completely.

David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving

Quite a few Dallas Cowboys fans, including myself, thought the organization made a mistake by placing just a second-round tender on David Irving this offseason. A lot of us believed some other team would jump at the chance of surrendering a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to secure his services. Surprisingly enough though, that didn't happen.

The Cowboys gamble paid off and David Irving will once again be a member of the team this season. But, beyond that his chances of sticking around doesn't look too good.

David Irving has become his own worst enemy. On the field he is one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the entire NFL. His name could be mentioned in the same breath as the Los Angeles Rams Pro-Bowl DT Aaron Donald, who should break the bank as soon as he receives his next contract.

I don't think it's a stretch to put Irving in the same company as Aaron Donald. He's that good when he's on the field and might just be a little bit more versatile. The sad thing is he can't be trusted, which will hurt negotiations when looking to sign a long-term contract after the 2018 season.

Teams know Irving can't really be relied upon to play an entire season. The Cowboys after all have given him every chance to prove himself, but time and time again he has let them down. This latest suspension might be the last straw.

It's one thing to keep a talented player around when they aren't costing a lot of money. But, it's another when you're investing big money in someone you can't fully trust. After all, actions speak louder than words. That could be why the Cowboys risked placing the second-round tender on Irving in the first place.

I personally have a hard time seeing David Irving sticking around after the 2018 season. I'm not against it, but there are more proven players who need to be locked up long-term and they don't come with the same kind of risk. Irving's future with the Cowboys doesn't look too good in my opinion.

Would you be on board with the Cowboys signing David Irving long-term?



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Sean’s Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving’s 2017 Absence

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving's 2017 Absence

For the second consecutive season, the Dallas Cowboys will be without the services of Defensive Tackle David Irving for their first four games. When Irving has been on the field, he's been a disruptive force at the all-important under tackle position, something the Cowboys can only hope he'll continue to be for at least 12 regular season games in 2018.

In his absence last year, the Cowboys allowed 107.5 rushing yards per game and another 231.75 through the air. While these numbers aren't far off from the team's final total of 104 rushing yards and 214 passing yards allowed per game, Irving's presence was surely missed on Rod Marinelli's defense.

I put on the tape to study how the Cowboys handled Irving's prior suspension, primarily watching the likes of Stephen Paea, Brian Price, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford play in rotation at defensive tackle.

With Paea no longer in the league and Collins dealing with another broken foot that expects to sideline him through most of training camp, the Cowboys will have to find a mostly new approach at DT starting next month in Oxnard.

Here is what I took away from the players still on the roster for 2018 that will have their chance to step in for David Irving.

DT Maliek Collins

DT4

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Any talks of the Cowboys maintaining a high level of play at defensive tackle without Irving has to start with Maliek Collins. Drafted as the starter at 3T-DT in 2016, Collins flashed incredible potential at this position despite missing most of camp as a rookie.

Last season, Collins was forced to play more as a one technique (1T) once Irving returned to the lineup, making up for the loss of both Paea and Price. Using his strength and stocky frame well as a 1T, Collins filled in admirably at this new spot -- though some fans still believe he was held back from developing further as a pass rusher.

When I watched Collins in the first four weeks of 2017 on tape, I didn't see the same technician of a pass rusher at the 3T position. Particularly in week one against the New York Giants, Collins struggled mightily with his pad level. This made is easy for interior offensive linemen to knock Collins off-balance, where he's effectively removed from the play due to a lack of recovery speed.

Collins best plays were produced when he was able to quickly shoot a gap to get up the field, or play with his hands above his eyes in overpowering his blocker to flow down the line. These are all desirable traits for a 1T tackle, which the Cowboys played with two of for the majority of snaps in weeks one through four.

Rod Marinelli was able to make a combination of Collins and Stephen Paea work on the interior. Similarly to Collins, there were flash plays from Paea, but overall this duo struggled to push the pocket much more than expected.

Keeping contain and creating penetration were two areas the Cowboys played at a below average level without David Irving last year.

DT2

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Just how much they'll allow Maliek Collins to change this, depending on the position he lines up at, will go a long way in how well the Cowboys are prepared for this season's dilemma of not having #95.

DT Tyrone Crawford

I can see why Tyrone Crawford was a fan of moving out to the right defensive end position later in 2017, after watching his limited reps at DT from the start of the season. This is a team captain, veteran player that's always competing on every single snap.

With that said, Crawford took a beating when trying to rush against double teams and get up the field. If Crawford's initial rush move is stopped, he has a hard time freeing himself up to make a play, getting drawn into his blocker's frame.

It remains unknown if Randy Gregory will be reinstated to play RDE for the Cowboys this season, but the team also feels good about rookie Dorance Armstrong and FA signing Kony Ealy at this spot. This depth, paired with their immediate need at 3T, means that Tyrone Crawford could be a likely candidate to kick back inside.

DT3

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The Cowboys won't have to worry about Crawford not doing everything he can to make an impact at this spot, but the difference from his reps to David Irving's will be noticeable should this be the Cowboys plan.

DT Brian Price

Brian Price finds himself in an interesting position for the 2018 season, re-signed by the Cowboys after losing 2017 to injury after just eight games. Price is solely a 1T-DT, which as previously mentioned is a spot that feels occupied by Maliek Collins.

Still a potentially valuable piece of the Cowboys rotation up front, it's hard to imagine Brian Price giving the Cowboys any of what they'll be missing from Irving. These are simply two completely different players.

DT1

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Price did impress on tape from the first four weeks of the season, disengaging quickly to play with impressive range for a bigger "nose tackle" type.

The Cowboys priority at DT without Irving should be tightening up against the run, something Price undoubtedly helps them with.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

We've heard plenty of great things about newly acquired DT Jihad Ward, a converted defensive end from the Oakland Raiders, as a player that was unavailable to the Cowboys last season. With his new defensive coordinator being a fan, Ward has a chance to turn heads at 3T while allowing the rest of the Cowboys DTs to slide into place.

There's a reason David Irving is worth the setbacks he's caused the Cowboys, and it's because athletic DTs like him that get to the quarterback at a high rate are so hard to find. This is evident by the fact that the Cowboys defensive line, as currently constructed, features sufficient depth at 1T but lacks 3T players behind Ward.

Putting this much pressure on a player traded for on the third day of the draft is never ideal roster building, but Ward could potentially be aided by both Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins as the Cowboys patch things together against the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks, and Lions to open 2018.

Other options further down the roster include Datone Jones, Daniel Ross, Lewis Neal, and Richard Ash.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: How Cowboys DTs Handled David Irving’s 2017 Absence" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin

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Tavon Austin, Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

If I were to ask you right now who will end up being the Dallas Cowboys playmakers in 2018, what would be your answer? I don't know what my answer would be other than Ezekiel Elliott, but one player does kind of stick out above the rest, wide receiver/running back Tavon Austin.

The Dallas Cowboys acquired Tavon Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft. It was a move that was met with some skepticism from many fans, but I for one like the trade.

A lot of NFL teams are overvaluing draft picks, especially later in the draft. The Dallas Cowboys only gave up a sixth-round draft pick to acquire Austin. It's unlikely anybody else drafted there would contribute this season, but Austin surely will.

It really looks as if the Dallas Cowboys have a clear plan for Tavon Austin this season. That's really a good thing considering all of the unknown with the rest of the offensive playmakers.

It's still a little strange to think about how much turnover the Dallas Cowboys have on the offensive side of the ball. Dak Prescott will pretty much be throwing to an entirely different group of wide receivers this season and will have a new tight end as well. Right now, it's a little scary to think about all of that change and whether or not it will be successful.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon Austin

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR/RB Tavon Austin

Luckily, the Cowboys still have Ezekiel Elliott, who will once again be the engine that propels the entire offense. He is really the Cowboys only playmaker who we know will without a doubt find success this year. Despite having a down year in 2017, for good reason, he is still considered one of the best running backs in the league.

We should find that comforting considering all of the unknown about the rest of the offense. No one really knows what they are getting from Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, or any of the other WRs. Cole Beasley of course may be the most reliable receiving target, but I wouldn't exactly call him a playmaker.

When I think of a playmaker, I'm envisioning someone who can take over a game by themselves. Ezekiel Elliott is more than capable of doing that, but I don't know if there is anybody else on the Cowboys roster who would fall into that category.

Tavon Austin may not be someone who can solely take over a game, but I think he could be the next best thing. He is a dangerous player any time he touches the ball due to his speed and elusiveness. He can hurt a defense in so many different ways and that should get you a little bit excited.

Unfortunately, we don't really know how the Dallas Cowboys or offensive coordinator Scott Linehan plan to utilize Austin's unique skill set just yet. Linehan doesn't have the best track record of being able to get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers, but hopefully things will change this year.

I may end up being in the minority here, but I'm going to predict that Tavon Austin ends up being the Dallas Cowboys best playmaker, not named Ezekiel Elliott, this season. I think he can make a difference as a receiver, running back, and on special teams as well.

What do you think about WR/RB Tavon Austin as a playmaker?



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