Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys offseason needs

1. Offensive Line
Tyron Smith and Nate Livings have the left side of the Dallas Cowboys line under control, but the other three positions are up for grabs. Right guard might be the most glaring hole, but there’s been talk of moving Doug Free inside, which would open up the right tackle position. D.J. Fluker could be an option in the first round.

2. Defensive Line
The Cowboys don’t have a glaring hole in the defensive line, but depth is needed and a few upgrades couldn’t hurt. There transitioning to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense, which means personnel changes are definitely coming. Kawann Short could be a first-round possibility.

3. Strong Safety
Neither Danny McCray nor Barry Church have gotten the job done in recent years. They need to add a safety who can step up and play the run. Matt Elam would be a great addition in the second round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Team Needs Leave a comment

Morris Claiborne is key to Cowboys defense on Wednesday night

Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne could be the key to their performance against Eli Manning and the Giants on Wednesday night.

Eli Manning will look Claiborne's direction early and often

Last season, the Giants picked on Terrence Newman, completing 12 of 19 passes thrown his direction for 240 yards in their two meetings. This year, Newman is gone, replaced by Claiborne and veteran Brandon Carr.

Given the choice, Manning will likely target the rookie Claiborne, and will hope to have the same success he found when picking on Newman last season. If Claiborne can come up some big plays, the Cowboys may be able to pull off the upset. But if Claiborne can’t improve upon Newman’s performance in 2011, it will likely be another long night for the Dallas defense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Danny Coale taking reps with Cowboys 1st-team offense

Dallas Cowboys 5th-round pick Danny Coale has been recovering from a broken foot which he suffered earlier this year in OTAs. But he’s finally back to full speed and received a significant amount of reps with the first-team offense according to the Dallas Star-Telegram.

Coale is expected to make his preseason debut on Saturday against the Rams, and his performance will have significant implications for the Cowboys offense. The third-receiver job is still up for grabs and the increased reps for Coale with the first-team offense seem to indicate the coaching staff is interested in seeing if he could handle that role.

Coale was a personal favorite of mine during the pre-draft process. Given his limited practice time I’d still have to say he’s a long shot to win the third-receiver job, but I do expect him to make the final 53-man roster, and an increased role as the season wears on is a definite possibility.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Morris Claiborne set to make Cowboys debut on Saturday

Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne is finally healthy and ready to make his preseason debut on Saturday against the Chargers. Claiborne stated that he would be willing to play the entire game if coaches let him, but it’s likely the Cowboys will ease him into action.

Claiborne has battled injuries throughout the offseason (wrist and knee) and is just now completing his first full week of practice.

It’s never ideal to rely on a rookie, but the Cowboys need Claiborne to play a significant role in their secondary. As a result, his return to the field may be the best news the Cowboys have received in training camp thus far, giving him three full games to get up to speed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Draft Needs: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys made a bold move by trading into the top 10, but they got a great deal from the Rams and have now solidified their most glaring weakness on defense.

Normally I’m critical of teams that trade up as far as the Cowboys, but only because of the price tag associated with climbing into the top 10. The Cowboys, however, were able to hang on to their 2013 1st-round pick, the usual asking price for such a blockbuster trade.

The selection of Morris Claiborne immediately solidifies what was the Cowboys most glaring weakness entering the offseason. Claiborne should make an immediate impact, and should be considered an early candidate for defensive rookie of the year. Due to the free agent acquisition of Brandon Carr, Claiborne will be the No. 2 corner, which will put him in favorable matchups and allow him to develop, rather than being thrown into the fire as he would have in Tampa Bay or Minnesota.

Tyrone Crawford may have been a slight reach in the 3rd round, but the Cowboys needed to address the depth at defensive end. He’s a prototypical 3-4 end and should be given an opportunity to compete for playing time with Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman.

The selection of Kyle Wilber was definitely a reach and didn’t address an immediate are of concern.

Matt Johnson is a developmental prospect and a significant reach in the 4th round. He’ll primarily play on special teams early in his career and be groomed to play strong safety down the road. He clearly has the size/athleticism combination, but probably would have still been on the board in the 5th or 6th round.

I love the selection of Danny Coale in the 5th round. His upside is limited due to his lack of speed and overall athleticism, but he is a classic possession receiver who should be able to contribute as the 3rd or 4th option, even as a rookie.

James Hanna rose up draft boards with an impressive combine workout, but his lack of production in college raises some concern. A player with his raw skills should have been able to find a role at Oklahoma, an offense which has a role found roles for athletic tight ends like Jermaine Gresham in the  past. That said, the risk/reward is definitely in the Cowboys favor in the 6th round.

Caleb McSurdy has a decent chance to make the final roster cuts due to the Cowboys lack of depth at inside linebacker. There’s a chance he could beat out Bruce Carter if he impresses in training camp.

Overall, this draft was all about the addition of Claiborne. The Cowboys clearly view him as one of the missing pieces to their championship run. The trade was an aggressive move, but one that could prove to be well worth the risk if he lives up to expectations.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment