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WR Turnover has Only Just Begun for the Dallas Cowboys

As the Dallas Cowboys made the difficult decision to release , it ushered in the beginning of the overhaul of the wide receiver group.

Much like they did in 2017 when they allowed , , JJ Wilcox, and to walk in , and then proceeded to draft four in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys began the painstaking task of overhauling a position group that has seen very little change in the last five years.

Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and have all been mainstays on the and had solidified roles with the team as the top three targets during the and now eras.

What took place in the , however, was evidence that the team isn’t content with the status quo.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft
Colorado State Rams WR Michael Gallup (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

The first big move over draft weekend came on Friday, when the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to be targeting SMU Wide Receiver . Instead, they held their picks and selected Colorado State Wideout Michael Gallup with the 81st pick.

Many see Gallup as someone who will be a lead receiver, if not week one, then by the end of the season.

Then on Saturday, after team favorite went off the board, the Dallas Cowboys made a with the for wide receiver Tavon Austin. In a draft that provided very little drama for the Cowboys, this was a shock.

There had been little indication they were interested in making a move for the dynamic wide receiver and , but they pulled the trigger adding a dynamic threat to a team that needed more explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball.

While many of us, this analyst included, were dreaming up the possibilities of what Tavon Austin could look like on the field with this current receiving core, the Dallas Cowboys got a call from the Oakland Raiders about one of their wide receivers. Another surprise took place.

Dallas Cowboys Acquire WR Tavon Austin Via Trade
Dallas Cowboys WR Tavon Austin

After only one season with the team, the Dallas Cowboys traded second year wide receiver, to the Oakland Raiders for Jihad Ward. Many thought Switzer could replace Beasley’s role in 2019, when the 2016 receiving leader's contract expired.

Switzer didn’t get a lot of opportunities on in his one year with the team and mostly because of the log jam at the top of the depth chart. Where Switzer’s impact was felt, however, was as a kick returner.

It’s important to note that Dallas had Jihad Ward only ranked five spots below current Dallas Cowboys defensive , in 2016. The Oakland Raiders made Ward their second round pick in 2016.

In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys had a first round grade on Tavon Austin.

The Dallas Cowboys came away with two players they really like for a fifth round pick and a player that wasn’t getting much run in Dallas.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

It could be argued that Switzer or another wide receiver was expendable with the addition of Tavon Austin. Austin is faster, more explosive, and has more experience playing the gadget role the team was hoping Ryan Switzer could play.

For the Los Angeles Rams, Austin took snaps lined up as a wide receiver and took snaps in the backfield. He was also the primary returner for the Rams. Austin immediately slots in as the team's kick and , jet-sweep guy, and deep threat, potentially making Deonte Thompson expendable.

While the Switzer move was a bit surprising, the Dallas Cowboys weren’t finished addressing the WR depth chart in the draft.

They selected Boise State wide receiver in the sixth round. Like Gallup, Wilson is a polished route runner who was very productive over his last couple of years at Boise State.

Who knows who will stick around after the , but it’s obvious that the Cowboys want more consistent production from the wide receiver group and are trying to find guys who can get open quickly for quarterback Dak Prescott.

With Cole Beasley on a contract set to expire and approaching 30 years old next , the team is expected to move on after the 2018 season.

Terrance Williams, though his contract would not allow for any team friendly management in 2018, gets a bit friendlier to the cap in 2019.

There are eight receivers on the roster who have a legitimate shot at being on the come week one. If you include a guy like who has made noise over the last two training camps, the wide receiver competition gets even more cloudy.

Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, , Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, , Deonte Thompson, and Cedric Wilson all have a legitimate shot at making the roster. They may designate Austin as a RB and he could be listed on that depth chart, but what we know is they aren't going to take seven or eight players on the 53-man depth chart.

will provide more clarity as to the roles each could play in 2018 but one thing is clear, a shakeup is happening and more surprises could be on the horizon.

John Williams
John Williamshttps://anchor.fm/inside-the-cowboys
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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EverybodyTalks

Our WRs stunk it up last year. When Zeke was gone, so were they. I love what is going on with the HARD hints.
Hint 1: Dez is terminated.
Hint 2: You sign Hurns and Deontay.
Hint 3: You sign Gallup and Wilson during the draft.
Hint 4: Switzer is traded to the Raiders.
Hint 5: There are no SAFE SPACES to hide. Do Your Job or go somewhere else.

So the most expensive, highest production WR is gone. Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the youngest WR is traded. The WR room has a new coach in the WR room and there is only elbow room with so many WRs. FO wants “competition”—-No, that is just their way of saying they want WRs that can get OPEN.

John Williams

My prediction for the WR group come week 1
Hurns
Terrance
Bease
Gallup
Wilson
Brown

How the depth chart will look week 17
Gallup
Hurns
Bease
Terrance
Wilson
Brown

Chuck Wright

sounds about right

EverybodyTalks

Great list. I definitely agree with you on Gallup moving up. I believe he will be an impact WR by the end of the season. To me, Beasley and Twill seem like 2a and 2B WRs. The wrinkle is with Witten retiring, Cole may become an even more important safety valve for Dak. A lot depends on opponent’s defensive scheme towards him. The dark horse, who I’m really curious about, is Cedric Wilson. Wilson could also be above TWill by the end of the season. If so, Terrance might be gone in 2019. For me, the real question mark is Brown. Body type like Dez. You had to check the jersey number to be sure. Can he push up into the WR pack, verses hanging to be at the bottom of the WR list each year? If not, is Deonte the WR, replacing Butler, as the stretch WR?

Hector Espindola

Hope the rookies, including Brown, beat T-Will. If Will McClay saw Dez tape, I don´t know what they all are waiting to see Williams. These kids can beat him!!

John Williams

Williams contract doesn’t really allow them to move on. They’d not really get much cap relief for moving on and they would eat a ton of dead money over the next two cap years.

John Williams

A trade is the best option, but given his cap numbers it would be unlikely.

Mr. Jaguar

The Cowboys are a business, if T Will don’t product, he out , same with the Bease. Imho, I expect the Cowboys to have a whole new group of wide receivers, who are perceise route runners, who can digest defensive schemes on the fly, and can separate with speed. I wouldn’t count out Brown. Him and Rico, have been working out with the receiver guru, that Dez is supposed to be hooking up with, to improve their route running skill, an the ability to make adjustments against the opposition defense, with the speed to separate.

Dak Attack will be deadly weapon with speed in 2018 and beyond, you can take it to the bank. Just my two cents worth.

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