For all the talk about how suspect the Cowboys defense, particularly their defensive ends, will be this season, you'd think that the entire unit was a lost cause. That outside of the known Pro-Bowl caliber players on offense, this team is full of duds.
That's simply not the case, especially on the interior of the defensive line.
The return of (we hope) a fully healthy Tyrone Crawford as well as the additions of free agent Cedric Thornton and third round former Nebraska Cornhusker Maliek Collins have created a lot of hope for fans like me who put a lot of faith in these tackles. Faith that they will be good enough to overcompensate for the questionable talent at defensive end.
The forgotten man of this interior group is actually the guy who can make this whole d-line click. The key to the success of the Cowboys defensive front may be sixth year veteran, Terrell McClain.
Riddled with injuries during his stint in Dallas so far, McClain has become an overlooked asset on this defensive line. With the amount of money and years given to Thornton as well as an early third round pick spent on a 1-technique, even the Cowboys seemed to be looking over McClain.
McClain has only played a full sixteen games once in his entire career, and missed virtually the entire 2015 season in Dallas. While durability has been an issue, size and talent certainly have not been.
Standing at 6'2" and over 300 pounds, McClain is the typical 1-technique. While he is a big body who is clearly tough to move off the ball, McClain is not slow or lazy in his get-off. His size and strength give him advantage enough to be a formidable defensive tackle, but when combined with active hands and his range to make plays, McClain can be a real force as the starting 1-technique in Dallas.
But you just signed Cedric Thornton to do that job?
Yes, they did. But having too many talented defensive tackles is never an issue. Plus, Thornton's versatility and athleticism give the Cowboys a chance to try something different, and possibly overcome DeMarcus Lawrence's suspension during the first four games.
McClain cannot move out to 3-technique and play there with much consistency, but we do have reason to believe that Thornton can. Playing both of these guys at the same time on 1st and/or 2nd down and possibly on short-yardage 3rd downs would give the Cowboys as strong an interior run defense as just about anyone else in the league. Of course, it doesn't give you much of an option in terms of pass rush, but it would serve as a formidable run defense.
What do you do with Tyrone Crawford on those downs?
This is where the "overcoming Lawrence's suspension" part comes into play. We don't know what the Cowboys have at defensive end for those first four weeks. The young guys may come out and out-athletic people off the ball, Ryan Russell may have perfected his spin move, and everything may be A-Okay. Or, these young defensive ends could struggle both against the run and the pass.
Enter Tyrone Crawford.
By playing Crawford at defensive end on these early downs, you give yourself a chance on each play. The Cowboys would now have three of their best available defensive linemen in the game, instead of having only two, with one watching from the sidelines.
Inside The Star's Brian Martin detailed why moving Crawford to defensive end would be the wrong move for the Cowboys earlier this year. Overall, I believe Brian is right. Playing a guy out of position, regardless of what his role may have been in college, is usually not the best move to make. He doesn't have the pass rushing moves or skills that most polished, full-time defensive ends have, and will struggle if put into those situations.
However, Crawford does have some position versatility, and if any of these linemen can do it, it is Crawford. No it would not be ideal, but it might be the best the team can do at this point. Like I said earlier, it is not a great option in terms of pass rush, but it would be a great option in running situations.
It might be a long shot, but I do think playing these three guys at the same time is something for the Cowboys to at least consider.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position
UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live.
Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.
However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.
This week, they even signed one.
Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.
He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.
His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.
But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.
According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.
Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room. https://t.co/Ivt5uk9kBN
It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.
Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.
Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.
It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.
They'd possibly have to decide among these:
- Dez Bryant
- Terrrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Ryan Switzer
- Allen Hurns
- Deonte Thompson
- Noah Brown
- A drafted rookie?
This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract.
Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.
Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.
As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
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