It’s time for America’s team! The Dallas Cowboys are the league’s most polarizing franchise and always finds a way to garner attention. Dallas is an interesting pie to dive into because we’re not really sure if the 13-3 Cowboys from two years ago were for real. As long as Ezekiel Elliott is on the field, Dallas is dangerous because they can control the clock. Hey, maybe cutting Dez Bryant is actually an addition by subtraction. What should we keep an eye on when the Dallas Cowboys open training camp in 2018?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
1. Wide Receiver: Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Tavon Austin, KD Cannon
This is just a mess so let’s try to do the best we can. I’m not sure the Cowboys have a number one or two wide receivers on the entire roster. Cole Beasley is probably your check-down slot guy. Allen Hurns is one of the outside threats. Deonte Thompson can just run go routes once in a while. Tavon Austin gets booted to special teams. Michael Gallup becomes a big-time X-Factor to contribute in year one. That sounds about right, huh?
2. Right Tackle: La’El Collins, Cameron Flemming
The right tackle spot is likely a two-part question. Do the Cowboys think La’El Collins is best suited for right tackle? Collins was downright bad at right tackle a year ago recording a grade of 50.7. However, he dominated the year before at guard recording a 67.1 grade at guard. Am I sure Dallas didn’t just pay Cameron Flemming just to be the backup? Well, maybe but this is a guy who started for the Patriots at right guard last year. Maybe they kick Collins to guard and Flemming slides to right tackle. Best case: Collins figures out the right tackle spot and Connor Williams is a stud day one at guard as a rookie.
3. Defensive End: Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Datone Jones, Dorance Armstrong, Randy Gregory, Jihad Ward, Kony Ealy
The Dallas Cowboys actually have crazy depth throughout their roster. One of those positions includes the defensive line. DeMarcus Lawrence is a bonified stud and really just needs one capable sidekick. Tyrone Crawford can play both defensive end and defensive tackle based on the down. Plus Maliek Collins and David Irving are damn good in their own right. Taco Charlton should be that guy as a 2017 first round pick. Dorance Armstrong also has big-time upside and could be the steal of the draft. If there’s one defensive line coach in all of football you trust to get it done, it’s Rod Marinelli.
Ready To Breakout: Xavier Woods
It’s not often that you can find a gem in the 6th round of a draft but that’s exactly what the Cowboys did in 2017. Xavier Woods wasn’t just a steal for the 6th round, he’s a damn good player. PFF slapped Woods with a 78.8 player grade in his rookie season. I am on record for saying that I would take Woods in the third round so you’re welcome if you read my draft notes. Woods may be a safety by trade but he can really flat out cover. Woods ranked 2nd in the entire NFL in coverage yards per snap out of the slot (.54). His teammate Byron Jones ranked third on that list, by the way. This Cowboys secondary is vastly underrated despite lacking star power names.
Rookie To Watch: Connor Williams
Connor Williams is the rookie to watch because he has a chance to take this offensive line from very good to elite. Williams was regarded as a franchise-altering left tackle a year ago but injuries and a shaky final year at Texas made his stock slip into the 2nd round. Williams also has shorter arms than your normal guard but now he slides into an offensive line that already has Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. If Williams plays like the guy who flashed promise at Texas, I’m not sure Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott will get touched all year.
Fantasy Sleeper: Rico Gathers
Jason Witten is gone and Dallas really has no answer at the tight end position. Enter Rico Gathers who is best known for being a basketball player at Baylor. Gathers showed potential during the preseason in 2017 and really is a great athlete. Basketball players have made the jump to the NFL before (Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez). Gathers has a chance to put up a double-digit touchdown season and if you think otherwise you probably have dumb brain.