While only a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, receiver Noah Brown was on the Cowboys' roster for all of his rookie season. He returns in 2018 hoping for a bigger role in Dallas' offense, and with some good possibility to get one.
Brown was not a big part of the 2017 offense. He was at the bottom of the WR depth chart, inactive for three games and not seen much even when in uniform.
Noah was only targeted nine times last year. He caught four passes for 33 yards.
Assumably, this had less to do with Brown and more with the other mouths to feed in the Cowboys passing game. Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, even fellow rookie Ryan Switzer; you get the idea.
2018 should remove at least one of those obstacles to Noah Brown's opportunities. Brice Butler is a free agent and there is no indication he is coming back.
Everyone else is still under contract, but that could change if the Cowboys start making any cuts to improve the salary cap. Bryant, Beasley, and even Witten, with varying degrees of probability, are all considerations as cap casualties in the next few months.
In the 2017 preseason, the 6'2″, 220-pound Noah Brown reminded us of a young Dez Bryant. He has the same thick body and even showed some of the same punishing running style after the catch.
Of course, Noah hasn't shown nearly enough in college or as a rookie to say he could replace Dez. Nobody's suggesting that. But he has flashed the potential to be given more looks in the passing game.
Another way Brown could get on the field more next year is for run blocking. He has the size and power, and the Cowboys will certainly be leaning on the run with Ezekiel Elliott back and Dak Prescott needing to find his groove again.
Even if he moves up a notch from Brice Butler's exit, Noah Brown's primary way of staying active in 2018 will be through special teams. That was the key for him last year; Brown was active for 13 games because of his special teams work.
Hopefully, Noah can work his way into more targets next season. The Cowboys' receivers need to get younger and a seventh-round pick emerging would be tremendous value.