Rookie, Undrafted Free Agent Watch for Dallas Cowboys' Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys grabbed seven players in the 2013 NFL Draft and have signed more than a handful of undrafted free agents since April. Dallas addressed some needs on offensive line and defense while adding interesting players for the passing game.
America's Team is also currently implementing a new 4-3 defense under Monte Kiffin and trying to improve on back-to-back 8-8 seasons the past two years. The Cowboys have to be hoping some of their new young players can make an immediate impact and help boost them into the postseason.
Here's a look at some of the newest members of the Dallas roster.
- College: San Diego State
- Draft Status: Round 2
- Height: 6'6''
- Weight: 251
- College Production: three seasons, 1646 total receiving yards, 17 combined touchdowns and 122 career receptions.
Analysis: Escobar was a bit of a surprising pick by Dallas in the second round, considering future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten is still on the roster. What the Cowboys are hoping to do with the young tight end in the fold now, however, is take a page out of the New England playbook.
All signs point to the Cowboys using more offensive formations with two tight ends on the field. Expect Escobar to be that second tight end opposite Witten.
Despite being from a smaller school and playing just three years of college ball, Escobar has the height and promise you want in a young tight end.
He can reach up and catch the ball regardless of if he's wide open or fighting off defenders. The fact that he stands 6'6" also gives him an advantage anytime he's being covered by a safety or cornerback.
The Cowboys offense is already one full of weapons and Escobar has the chance to become another for Dallas.
- College: Georgia Southern
- Draft Status: Round 3
- Height: 6'0''
- Weight: 219
- College Production: Three years as an offensive player, one year as a safety, 84 tackles, two interceptions and averaged 25.5 yards on 30 kick return attempts.
Analysis: Another small school draft pick, J.J. Wilcox was a player the Cowboys drafted more for promise than based on college production. Wilcox spent three of his four college years playing on offense, usually as a slot receiver.
He'll spend training camp fighting for one of the two wide-open starting safety jobs. Other names in the running for the open positions are Eric Frampton, Will Allen, Barry Church, Danny McCray and Matt Johnson.
Wilcox has his work cut out for him to make it to the top of the safety depth chart, but he is no stranger to challenges. If the Georgia Southern product can transition from playing offense to defense so quickly, he should be able to prove his worth at safety.
- College: Baylor
- Draft Status: Round 3
- Height: 6'2''
- Weight: 202
- College Production: Four-year career, 202 total receptions, 27 combined receiving touchdowns and 1,832 receiving yards his senior year.
Analysis: Terrance Williams wasn't drafted due to a dire need for an explosive wide receiver on the roster. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have that covered.
What Williams does bring to the Cowboys, however, is the potential threat of three deadly wide receivers paired with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar at tight end. Dallas already has an impressive array of receiving options who could get even better depending on how Williams works out.
In his final two years in college, Williams tallied a combined 2789 receiving yards. Keep in mind he spent much of his Baylor days with Robert Griffin III as his quarterback. If the Bears had a pocket passer-type quarterback during Williams' career, the wideout could have posted even bigger numbers.
There's not much pressure on Williams to start his NFL career as the Cowboys just need a reliable No. 3 receiver for now. This fact gives the rookie time to get used to his new offense while gaining NFL experience and chemistry with Tony Romo.
He could be a fine receiver down the road for Dallas, but for now, he doesn't need to do much else other than learn and be reliable.
- College: Wisconsin
- Draft Status: Round 1
- Height: 6'3''
- Weight: 317
- College Production: Four-year career, named to the 2012 All-Big Ten first team and 2011 All-Big Ten second team. Considered one of the top centers going into the 2013 NFL draft.
Analysis: The Cowboys have struggled to find stability on the offensive line in recent years. Back in 2011, Dallas used its first-round pick on tackle Tyron Smith. Since then, he has been the most reliable offensive lineman on the roster.
Head coach Jason Garrett and company are hoping Frederick can fall in Smith's footsteps. The former Badger is an asset in both the passing and running game. He's a smart football player who knows how to hold his block and get to the second level of the defense.
Dallas needs as much production as it can get from the offensive line. Frederick will at least be an improvement over former-starter Phil Costa.
Undrafted Free Agents
Undrafted free-agent list (courtesy of NFL.com)
Clemson CB Xavier Brewer; Virginia TE/FB Paul Freedman; South Carolina State FS Jakar Hamilton; Texas A&M CB/KR Dustin Harris; Saginaw Valley State SS Jeff Heath; Eastern Washington WR Greg Herd; Mississippi State LB Cameron Lawrence; Missouri RB Kendial Lawrence; Arizona State LB Brandon Magee; SMU LB Taylor Reed; Cal Lutheran WR Eric Rogers; Wisconsin CB Devin Smith; Akron QB Dalton Williams
Analysis: Out of the many undrafted free agents currently on the Dallas roster, Missouri's Kendial Lawrence and Brandon Magee are the most interesting.
Magee tore his Achilles tendon in 2011 but totaled 112 tackles and 6.5 sacks in his final season at Arizona State.
The Cowboys have depth at linebacker when considering Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Ernie Sims and others. However, as the team learned in 2012, it never hurts to have plenty of options. Magee could be an interesting project for the practice squad or even the 53-man roster. It will all depend on how his training camp goes.
As for Lawrence, the former Missouri Tiger is not a big back by any means. He is just 5'9" and weighs 194 pounds, but that's not a bad thing. What he lacks in height, Lawrence makes up in pure speed. He'd could be an interesting back to bring in sparingly throughout a game.
Dallas is in need of a No. 3 runner to backup starter DeMarco Murray and rookie Joseph Randle. The race for the third running back could end up being won by Lawrence.
The rookie has the speed you want to see out of a smaller rusher and tallied 2,232 yards over his four years in college. The Cowboys were smart to take a chance on Lawrence and Magee to see what the two can do.