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Who Rounds out the Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Depth Chart?

The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group is among the best in the NFL, and, yes, that’s before CeeDee Lamb has even taken a snap. Their top trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb is arguably the best in the NFL heading into the 2020 season. The talent they bring to the top of the depth chart is unquestioned after Cooper and Gallup went for more than 1,000 yards receiving in 2019, and Lamb was selected 17th overall. While the top half of the depth chart is written in stone, where does that leave the rest of the depth chart?

The Cowboys have several players who will be vying for roster spots when the team begins their on-field work in the next week or two. It’s a good mix of NFL veterans and players with a year or less in the NFL for the Cowboys to choose from.

Coming into the NFL in the 2015 NFL Draft as an original draft pick of the New York Jets, Devin Smith is the most veteran member of the bunch. Injuries derailed his career in New York, and he landed on the Cowboys roster last season. Smith made a few plays for the team, but he only played in four games as, once again, injuries took a toll. After a breakout three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Washington Football Team (man that feels weird to write), he caught two passes the next week and was targeted just once against New Orleans. He didn’t play another snap for the rest of the season.

Smith’s injury history has been the most significant reason he hasn’t been able to catch on in the NFL. His speed and downfield ability were apparent last year, but for a player to develop, they have to be on the field. It appears that Smith has the inside track to the number four wide receiver spot with experience playing on the outside and offering a deep threat ability that is unique to the rest of the receivers vying for a roster spot.

Though Devin Smith has the most years in the NFL, it’s Noah Brown with the most game experience vying for one of the final roster spots at wide receiver. Smith has played in just 18 games in his five years since being drafted. Noah Brown played in 21 games over the 2017 and 2018 seasons before sitting out 2019 due to injury.

Brown will be an interesting case study for this training camp. He’s going into the final year of a rookie deal he signed under the former coaching staff. Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan liked Brown’s blocking ability. That, combined with his capabilities on special teams, often gave him opportunities for playing time with the offense that other seventh-round draft picks might not get.

Generally, you wouldn’t see his name pop up on the stat sheet with many targets or receptions, but his impact on the running game is undeniable. In 2018, Brown showed an ability to get open against Washington.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 8

What’s intriguing about his game is his ability to combine his size with his reliable route running. Like CeeDee Lamb, Brown could be an option in the slot if the team needed Brown to take some snaps. Brown’s ability could allow him to back up at all three wide receiver spots and give the Cowboys quality snaps. However, with a new coaching staff in town, there’s no telling how much value they’ll place on Noah Brown’s blocking ability.

Speaking of size and slot wide receiver play, let’s talk about Cedrick Wilson. Wilson, like Devin Smith and Noah Brown, has had to miss time due to injury. After a torn labrum early in training camp his rookie season, Wilson was placed on injured reserve and missed all of 2018.

Wilson made the roster in 2019 and was active for six games. He caught five of eight passes for 46 yards with two first-down receptions. Wilson has some ability to get open down the field but hasn’t had many opportunities to make an impact in the passing game.

Wilson is another player that needs more time on the field to continue to develop his NFL game. Like Brown and Lamb, Wilson’s a guy that could backup at both outside receiver positions and in the slot.

Ventell Bryant came in last season as the replacement for Noah Brown. A bigger-bodied receive that they could deploy to help block in the running game. Much like Noah Brown, though, when teams saw him coming into the lineup, defenses could sit on the run, because that was generally his only purpose. He did have a touchdown reception week 13 in the Cowboys loss to the Buffalo Bills. But other than that, he didn’t get much run.

Kendrick Rogers and Aaron Parker are two undrafted free agents the Cowboys picked up after the draft. In a typical season, they’d have just as much a shot as anyone to make the roster. However, with the abbreviated offseason and no preseason games, there will be less opportunity for them to make an impact that might keep them on the roster.

They certainly have the talent and through practice could force their way onto the roster, but it seems more likely that the Cowboys go with some experience on the depth chart, and Rogers and Parker end up on the practice squad.

Though we’ve yet to see a practice at this point, it would a surprise to see the Cowboys not go with a veteran-heavy group on the wide receiver depth chart after CeeDee Lamb. Given the problematic transition that often comes with a rookie wide receiver’s first year in the NFL, having a player or two that can help alleviate the stress of that transition would be wise. Of course, that’s not to say that Lamb will struggle, but leaving yourself some insurance on the roster and versatility on your depth chart makes sense.

If week one were tomorrow, these are the six wide receivers they’d take to Los Angeles to face the Rams in week one.

  • Amari Cooper
  • Michael Gallup
  • CeeDee Lamb (Slot)
  • Cedrick Wilson
  • Devin Smith
  • Noah Brown

Indeed, a lot could change, and injuries and positive COVID-19 tests could upset the applecart, but these six are the best options for the Cowboys to start the 2020 season.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. I’m quite comfortable with the 6 you’ve outlined for week-1. But be ready … here come the “sign Dez” folks …

    • Sort of agree of with the 6. Not sold on Noah Brown. Still have visions of him, letting the Seattle linebacker, rip that interception from him, in that playoff game. Biggest moment of his career, and he squandered it. A receiver should not be losing, one on one matchups, to average linebackers.

      • Id consider signing a free agent wr like
        Terrance Williams
        Chris Hogan
        Martavis Bryant
        Josh Gordon
        Dez Bryant
        Taylor Gabriel

        Also a few wrs will be cut from teams before final rosters.
        Maybe Ted Ginn, Hakeem Butler, Switzer

        Or even trading for Cardinals WR Christian Kirk or Andy Isabella. Or package deal to get 1 of those 2 wrs plus LB Hasson Reddick and we trade them a secondary player or dlineman. Maybe Dorance Arnstrong & pick or armstrong + thompson

        Any of these guys would be able to fill in if 1 of our 3 starters got injured. Id trust 1 of these guys more than who we got now.

      • Let’s not boil our opinion or a player down to their worst moments. It’s hard for a player if you’re rarely targeted in the passing game to have a feel for what to do in the passing game.

  2. Those are the best 6. Dez isn’t coming back thank God. Frankly I’m kinda surprised he didn’t lurk around longer than he did.
    Kinda off topic but hopefully Gregory gets his reinstatement. I wanna see him and aldon Smith with Demarcus Lawrence and Anae. Throw in Dorrance Armstrong I don’t care. But that’s a nasty deep end group. We don’t need griffin or clowney.

  3. Given Brown’s blocking ability and his position flex could he be utilized as an H-back / FB at times given Olawale’s decision to opt out? Not an ideal replacement but it could be a valuable additional roster spot especially considering how seldom the FB is employed.

  4. Those six WRs sound about right, unless we’re surprised, which can and does happen. In any event, offense looks to be very strong.

  5. I like 5 of the 6 you listed…. I don’t feel too good about Noah Brown though!! I never really liked him!! I think I would take Ventell Bryant over Noah Brown!! Bryant was a stud on special teams from the time he came to Dallas till the end of the season!! He was making plays all over the field and I don’t remember him getting injured on any of those plays either, unlike Brown who keeps getting injured!! I like Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, Wilson and Smith, but I think I’d pick Bryant over Brown!! But that’s just my opinion!!

    • I think Noah Brown has more ability than they allowed him to display. He’s a pretty good route runner and has solid hands. I don’t know if he would have gotten a bigger opportunity under a different coach, but he’s a solid player.

  6. I think the 5th/6th spot will be determined by special teams ability, as they are on many teams. I think I remember that play Sean, and ur right one play like that can turn the tide of a game. Also Ben I like ur thinking on Noah Brown, that’s the type of creative thinking we need in these unique times.

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