While they are nothing more than helmet and shorts exercises, Dallas Cowboys During the initial OTA meeting, they saw the full roster for the first time. It’s hard to get a lot out of these. There’s not going to be a lot of data that can really change the way we think about teams.For the most part, we’re based on our view of the offseason 2022 edition of the franchise, including NFL draft.
Some are concerned that the team could get worse, while others are happy to see new talent. To see this, here’s a breakdown by job group, where it should be better and where it might be at a disadvantage compared to this time last year.
The Cowboys have the same name as the end of the season. Dak Prescott is the undisputed starter, Cooper Rush looks to be reprising his role as QB2, Will Grier should be No. 3 and Ben DiNucci somehow holds a spot on the 90-man roster. However, there are significant differences. This time last year, Dak Prescott was still recovering from a season-ending ankle injury last fall. He won’t be completely ready to leave for a while. This time, he’s 100 percent, including the calf strain he deals with later this year. This alone is eye-catching.
Verdict: Things got healthier.
It’s very similar. Ezekiel Elliott has battled injuries for most of the season. Although he ranks seventh in the league in rushing yards, this is seen as a down year for him. Also expected to return to health, he should give the ground game a boost. We’ll have to see if the staff, especially Karen Moore, can make better use of Tony Pollard this year, but the top two spots are safe and there’s an interesting group of players vying for how many backups they have.
Verdict: As long as Zeke can push harder, it’s even better — a little bit.
No matter what you think of the wisdom moving on from Amari Cooper, it’s hard to say he didn’t leave a big hole to fill. With Michael Gallup also expected to miss several weeks early in the season with an injury, this group is undoubtedly worse. CeeDee Lamb should be gearing up for a bumper year, but put too much hope on James Washington, Noah Brown, Simi Fhawko and rookie Jaren Tolbert to be as widespread as last season It would be unwise to think of an offseason as strong as one of the best perimeter teams in the league.
Verdict: Hopefully Prescott and Moore can figure out how to boost the weaker bunch.
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In 2020, Blake Jarwin is the starter and Dalton Schultz is TE2. Javin will be injured, and Schultz will be an astonishing story as he proves he’s more than capable of keeping his starting spot and is the main man in 2021. Now the team has to see what they have in rookie Jack Ferguson. No matter how he performs, don’t expect him to level up. We don’t even know if he’ll be able to stop Jeremy Sprinkle and Sean McKeon from finishing second on the depth chart.
Verdict: Schultz is very good, but backup remains a question mark.
To quote the great Samuel L. Jackson Jurassic Park, hold your butt tight. Tyron Smith is still elite — not all seasons over the years when he’s healthy. Zack Martin looks like a HOF bound, so right back looks great. The team took some risks in releasing La’el Collins. Terence Steele did a great job at the end of the season making them willing to do it, but now we find out if he’s a legitimate right tackle starter. Tyler Smith was drafted to make him the new starting left-back, but he’s playing inside from tackles. His skills might be better suited there. However, his technique requires a lot of work. Meanwhile, Stephen Jones has hinted at competing for Tyler Biadas as the starting center. We’ve seen how things go this offseason when he starts to capitulate.
This is probably the most critical position group, as it’s not only so important to protecting Prescott, but will be called upon to improve last season’s relatively lackluster running game.
Judgment: There is a lot of uncertainty, which is never a good thing.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys seemed very excited about the addition of Sam Williams, apparently a pick for Dan Quinn. However, he has an uphill task of trying to outpace the early-season version of the late Randy Gregory.Staff apparently had confidence in Gregory before contract talks fell through Denver Broncos. In the early days, this was seen as a step backwards, at least.
The defense’s interior wasn’t really a strong point last year, and they didn’t invest much in trying to upgrade. All they spent was a fifth-round pick in John Ridgway, who was expected to be a mostly center runner. While Neville Gallimore and Osa Odighizuwa look good, especially later in the year, it feels as scary as treading water.
Judgment: This is a weakness, especially at an edge point.
Here, the most important thing is what we didn’t know this time last year. That said, the Cowboys picked a real unicorn in Micah Parsons. Now, after rushing to the Defensive Rookie of the Year and First Team All-NBA team, he may be ready for something more impressive in a year and hopefully not dealing with minor injuries like he did last year. He’s also a definite advantage in passing fever. The only question is how he will be used the most, and for now, teams seem to prefer to have him lined up primarily as a linebacker.
Dallas has invested two late-round picks at this position, but one, Damon Clark, is a long-term option since he could be on the PUP for most or all of the year. The other is their sixth-rounder Devin Harper. He’s likely destined to shoot for special teams. Once again, the team is relying on Jayron Kearse to help as a mixed player. Otherwise, the depth is Leighton Vander Esch, Jabril Cox coming to the end of his injury-limited season, and a few other special team types.
Verdict: Just realize what Micah Parsons is, this looks better than it did a year ago, but there are still some lingering concerns.
Trevon Diggs had him for a year. He led the league in interceptions with 11, the most of any player in the NFL since 1981. That’s great. It’s also bad news, because history tells us that players can’t maintain this kind of production year after year. Diggs has been widely criticized for the yardage he gave up in coverage, though many thought it was a bit illusory. Still, the team didn’t do anything to add talent to the room except for another fifth-round pick, DaRon Bland. They hoped Kelvin Joseph was ready to take the next step, but there was a huge shadow over him because of the off-field incidents he was involved in. This could result in a prolonged suspension.
In terms of safety, re-signing Kearse is the best thing they’ve done this offseason. But they got no extra help and lost Damonte Kazee in free agency.
Verdict: No real help, and it seems inevitable that there will be some reversion to the mean after last year’s excellent work, so they’re taking a small step back here. But outside the offensive line, it’s most likely to make things worse.
Is subtraction and addition real? Greg Zuerlein’s departure seems to be the case. While they were pinning their hopes on UDFA Jonathan Garibay as a new member, we still have hope.
Verdict: It feels better than expecting The Leg to return to its old self.
Acknowledging that this list isn’t as impressive as last year’s OTAs feels like face it. The only thing that could pay off handsomely is Prescott’s health. This can cover many warts. Relying on one player to carry things is still a bit of a risk, especially when opponents know he’s the one they have to stop. You may want to keep the Kool-Aid in the refrigerator for a while.