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Which Cowboys Veterans are at Risk of Losing Their Starting Job?

Brian Martin

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Which Cowboys Veterans are at Risk of Losing Their Starting Job?

The Dallas Cowboys roster looks pretty set from the outside looking in, which means there's not very many starting positions up for grabs heading into the 2018 season. This of course should be good news, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone's job is secure.

Every season we see veterans end up getting replaced by younger/cheaper players. It's just the nature of the business and something the Dallas Cowboys, and their players, are well aware of. Even though the majority of the roster can be written in ink, there are still a few names probably written in pencil.

With that in mind, I decided to share with you a few of the Dallas Cowboys veterans who could lose their starting job in 2018. Continue reading below to see which veteran players I believe should be looking over their shoulder the remainder of the offseason.

Defensive End, Tyrone Crawford

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys)

Don't look now, but the Dallas Cowboys suddenly have quite a bit of depth all along the defensive line and it could end up being a difference maker in 2018. Unfortunately, that also means some veteran players could lose their starting gig to some of these young up and coming prospects.

DeMarcus Lawrence isn't in jeopardy of losing his starting job, but the other Boise State Bronco, Tyrone Crawford, should probably be looking over his shoulder. He has never quite lived up to his contract, but he has been a valuable piece along the defensive line these past several years playing both defensive tackle and the defensive end.

Crawford was asked to drop weight, so it looks as if he will be playing DE this season. Unfortunately for him, there are some young guns anxiously awaiting for their shot as a starter. Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, rookie Dorance Armstrong, and possibly Randy Gregory (if reinstated) could prove to be a better option opposite Lawrence. By the way, this is a good problem to have.

Linebacker, Damien Wilson

Damien Wilson

Dallas Cowboys LB Damien Wilson

As things stand right now, it certainly looks as if Damien Wilson is on the outside looking in among the Dallas Cowboys linebackers. Sean Lee will without a doubt continue to be the starter on the weak side (WILL), but it's almost 100% guaranteed we will see new LBs playing in the middle (MLB) and the strong side (SAM).

The Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first-round for a reason. Despite only really having one full season as a starter at Boise State, he is an ascending player who is expected to become the starting MLB as a rookie. That means Jaylon Smith is probably going to push Wilson out of his starting spot at SAM.

Of course, Smith may be used in a variety of different roles this season, even as a situational pass rusher. But, that still likely pushes Wilson down the depth chart. There could of course be some kind of rotation like we've seen Rod Marinelli do with the defensive line, but that's yet to be seen.

Safety, Jeff Heath

Jeff Heath

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath

Out of all of the positions on the Dallas Cowboys roster, the safety position is without a doubt the thinnest. This is especially true now that Byron Jones is finally moving back to his more natural position, cornerback. So, it's a little difficult to imagine much changing in 2018.

Without any new faces coming in at the safety position, except undrafted free agents, we can probably expect Jeff Heath to once again start the season. But, there could be a wrench thrown into the machinery because of the hiring of Kris Richard, the Cowboys new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator.

Richard is a new set of eyes who might decide he wants something entirely different in his safeties. It's very possible Jeff Heath gets demoted and we see someone like Kavon Frazier take over the Cam Chancellor role and Xavier Woods play the Earl Thomas role. This will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch the remainder of the offseason.

Tight End, Geoff Swaim

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

I know Geoff Swaim wasn't technically a starter last year, but he is the only tight end currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster who has any kind of significant playing time. With Jason Witten and James Hanna out of the picture, he's expected by many to step up and become the next starter.

Swaim may be sitting atop the TE depth chart right now, but I highly doubt his name is written ink. He only has nine receptions for 94 receiving yards in his three-year career with the Cowboys, which by no means justifies him a starting gig.

I think the Dallas Cowboys fourth-round draft pick out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz, has a good chance of outplaying Swaim and becoming the only TE to start for the Cowboys other than Jason Witten. He definitely has some big shoes to fill, but he will probably be given every chance to prove he's up to the task.

Which Dallas Cowboys veterans do you think might lose their starting job in 2018?



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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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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