You may not be aware, but the Dallas Cowboys have been excellent over the years at finding undrafted players to come in and play prominent roles. Just last season in 2017 they had nine undrafted free agents (UFAs) start at least one game. La'el Collins (16), David Irving (8), Cole Beasley (4), Keith Smith (3), Benson Mayowa (2), Byron Bell (2), Richard Ash (2), and Rod Smith (1) all went undrafted and had to scratch and claw their way to earn playing time. Who's next?
Despite the success the Dallas Cowboys have had finding UFAs in the past, this year will be a lot tougher for any of them to make the roster, let alone earn much playing time. That should be considered a good thing because the Cowboys have a deep roster from top to bottom without many open spots up for grabs.
With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the UFAs the Dallas Cowboys brought in after the completion of the 2018 NFL Draft to see how many have a chance to actually make the roster. Like I said earlier, it's going to be tough, but there are a few candidates capable of earning a roster spot this season.
CB/S Kameron Kelly, San Diego State
Kameron Kelly (6'2", 204) is a versatile defensive back who has played both cornerback and safety during his time at San Diego State. He was projected to be a mid-round draft pick by many draft analyst, but unfortunately didn't hear his name called in any of the seven rounds.
Kelly fits the mold Kris Richard likes in his CBs. He has the size and length to be a press corner and is physical in run support. However, his best chance to make the Cowboys roster is probably as a safety. The Cowboys need more depth at the safety position, which happens to be where Kelly looks the most comfortable in my opinion.
CB Charvarius Ward, Middle Tennessee State
Charvarius Ward (6'1", 198) has taken a long route to get a shot at making it in the NFL. He started two years at Hinds Community College before making a name for himself at Middle Tennessee State. In two years at Middle Tennessee State, Ward had 21 passes defensed and 2 interceptions, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get drafted.
Again, Ward fits the mold Kris Richard likes in his cornerbacks because of his height/length. He is still developing as a player and probably needs more time to improve his craft before he can be relied upon, but his speed and measurable's give ham a chance to stick around on the Cowboys roster. The cornerback position is crowded, but he has a fighting chance to catch the attention of the coaching staff.
FS Tyree Robinson, Oregon
Tyree Robinson (6'3", 199) is yet another height/length defensive back the Dallas Cowboys brought in as an undrafted free agent. You might notice the trend here, but you can definitely see Kris Richard's handprint on the kind of defensive backs he wants in his secondary.
Robinson has already caught the coaching staffs eye and Bryan Broaddus', former Scout and Staff Writer for the Cowboys, a little already at the rookie mini-camp. He has a chance to make the team as a rangy free safety, but really needs to add some muscle/weight to his slender frame. He also has experience at cornerback, but again, his best chance to make the team is as a safety.
TE David Wells, San Diego State
David Wells (6'5", 256) has a chance to make the Dallas Cowboys roster due to both Jason Witten and James Hanna announcing their retirements. The tight end position with the Cowboys is up for grabs and will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch throughout the remainder of the off-season.
Unfortunately, Wells isn't going to blow anybody away with his athleticism. He is a sluggish athlete and will have a tough time creating separation in the passing game due to his heavy legs. He does have the size and competitiveness to become a good in-line blocker, which is probably his best chance of making the roster.
LB/QB Joel Lanning, Iowa State
Joel Lanning (6'1", 232) is probably the most intriguing undrafted free agent the Dallas Cowboys signed after the draft. He started his career at Iowa State playing quarterback, but ended his collegiate career at linebacker because the team wanted more of a passer than a runner at QB. Being the team player he is, he switched positions without hesitation.
Lanning is exactly the "right kind of guy" head coach Jason Garrett wants on his football team. Lanning's best shot to make the Cowboys roster is on special teams and as a reserve linebacker, but he can play other roles as well. I believe it was the Oakland Raiders who even worked him out at fullback before the draft. I don't know exactly where he will play, but this is the kind of player you want to find a place for.
Do you think any of these UFAs make the Dallas Cowboys roster?
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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