As I am perusing the Cowboys Depth Chart assessing chances of players getting in the rotation for the upcoming season an interesting factoid jumped out at me. Not one “unit” on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys is set yet. Starting positions and/or rotation spots are up for grabs. QB and the OLine come closest to being set, however, the fight for the QB2 position is real this offseason and though the starting five for the offensive line “seem” to be entrenched, the backup positions are extremely fluid and the player that loses that battle won’t be going to the practice squad, they will be looking for work.
Let’s break down the different units on the team.
Mike White and Cooper Rush will be fighting it out for the QB2 spot and may the best man win. Cooper was VERY impressive last season in limited work and White brings one hell of a resume to the party. Keep a close eye on this. A future draft pick for the ‘Boys is in play. Could it be a coveted first rounder?
The situation here is much like at QB. The starter is set. Then it gets interesting. It “should” play out as expected but there is a TON of UDFA talent on the roster at RB and draft pick Bo Scarbrough better have his hard hat on. These guys came to play. Trey Williams is a guy to keep a close eye on and let’s not forget Tavon Austin. Jerry won’t like paying millions of dollars for a bench ornament.
Just like QB and RB, the starter is set in sto … damn. It still hasn’t hit yet. Witten is NOT the man in big D. This is a total crap shoot and one of the most exciting position battles to happen for the Cowboys in years. Geoff Swaim has the inside track but Blake Jarwin, obviously a talent as the Eagles made a run at him this past offseason, is nipping at his heels. Then there is “the man,” Rico Gathers. As a minimum, he can be a pass catching TE. However, the man enjoys contact. He may not have the experience but having the “want to” is HUGE in the blocking game. His upside is off the charts and we didn’t even mention the shiny new toy in the TE room, draft pick Dalton Schultz, who is a blocking FOOL. He can catch the rock as well. Most everyone is trying to figure out which player is the next Witten clone. I want to know how the team plans on using the position first now that the future HOF TE is retired.
The TE crew isn’t alone in having absolutely no idea who will be manning the rotation come game day. There are really only two things you can say about this group. First, TWill and da Bease are savvy veterans who work well with Dak. Second, every one of these guys is talented and can make plays with the ball in their hands.
More than a changing of the guard, this is a change in philosophy as the team is moving away from the dominant WR1 scheme. It could very well be the flavor-of-the-week as the other team’s roster will dictate matchup opportunities. We don’t know who the starters will be nor who the rotation will be comprised of. This will be a daily battle that likely won’t be settled until the final cuts, if then. More likely the “starters” will be fluid for the first half of the season. Ultimately, however, things have a way of shaking out and you have to believe Michael Gallup will ultimately be on the field when the first offensive play is run. Who is with him may very well change with the wind.
Fresh draft picks, trades, free agent acquisitions, break-out returning players, contract year deadlines and possibly a suspension being lifted all combine to make this rotation highly competitive. The front office has done a masterful job of addressing this unit. This will be Marinelli’s most talented rotation since he arrived and (fun) questions abound! Will Maliek Collins and/or David Irving take the next step? Can Kony Ealy and/or Datone Jones finally tap into their physical talents? Can Charles Tapper stay healthy? is Jihad Ward “the answer” his former draft status hints at for the 1-Tech position? Can Brian Price and Lewis Neal offer burst at the 1-Tech? Can Taco Charlton continue to build on the solid ending to last season? Is Randy Gregory actually going to see the field during the regular season? I can’t wait to see the results.
Are you kidding me? All eyes will be on LVE. When he pans out the entire unit gets a huge boost. Lee needs a player like LVE next to him. It will free him up (turnover alert) to be more effective. Scary. This also gives Jaylon the time he needs. His confidence took a hit as he came back and was forced into heavy minutes his body and mind weren’t ready for. By the end of the year, his arrow was pointing up, however. It’s been years (decades) since the Cowboys have had an uber-talented LB corps. Enjoy the view. This will affect this defense in a HUGE way. The unit also has one of the better sleeper players in the league with former QB/LB Joel Lanning who is a football player from head to toe. The kid can ball and will probably make the team for his Special Teams play alone. Don’t take your eyes off this kid.
Scandrick is gone. There are two new starters at the corner, a new slot guy and I am feeling better about this unit now than I have in years. I love the new coach, the decisiveness of assigning positions, the new physical template at the edge which (in my opinion) is a critical component of the Tampa 2 scheme and I have to give a nod to the depth the team has created as well. Bring it on! This is one solid crew with Jones and Awuzie on the edges and Lewis in the slot. Anthony Brown is a top-tier CB4 and you better have one in this league, just ask the Patriots. Marques White gives the boys a CB5 to envy and it’s time to blow the whistle. I want to see this crew on the field!
Jeff Heath, Xavier woods, Kavon Frazier. I see all three as starters at this point and I understand Jameill Showers is going to get a serious look this time as well. Which brings us to … Kameron Kelly. Admittedly Garrett was NOT able to get the competition he wanted at this position in free agency, trades or the draft. Kelly has the tools to make that point moot. Keep your eyes on this kid. But you know Jason Garrett, he believes competition is king and somehow the front office also found/signed UDFA Tyree Robinson. We will be doing a video scouting report on him later.
Cowboys camp is going to be one exciting event in 2018. Which position battles are you most excited about? Comment below.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over