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WR Turnover has Only Just Begun for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: 2
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

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

Much like they did in 2017 when they allowed Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, JJ Wilcox, and Barry Church to walk in free agency, and then proceeded to draft four defensive backs 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 Cole Beasley have all been mainstays on the depth chart and had solidified roles with the team as the top three targets during the Tony Romo and now Dak Prescott eras.

What took place in the 2018 NFL Draft, 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 Courtland Sutton. 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 Nyheim Hines went off the board, the Dallas Cowboys made a trade with the Los Angeles Rams 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 kick returner, 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, Ryan Switzer to the Oakland Raiders for defensive tackle 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 offense 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 tackle, Maliek Collins 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 punt returner, 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 Cedric Wilson 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 2018 season, 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 offseason, 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 53-man roster come week one. If you include a guy like Lance Lenoir who has made noise over the last two training camps, the wide receiver competition gets even more cloudy.

Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, Noah Brown, 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.

Training camp 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.



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.

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8 Comments
  • 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.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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