There's nothing epic about a prediction like this. After all, we're talking about one unheralded journeyman potentially following in the footsteps of another. And in this case, we're talking about a dude who has already been nicknamed by his new team after a goofy character from a slapstick comedy.
"You remember Flounder from ‘Animal House’?" Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said this week of the team's newest buzz defensive player, Zach Minter, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. "He’s got a little bit of that Flounder look to him. He didn’t have a Flounder look to him when the ball was snapped, though. He really showed up."
But Garrett's right, "Flounder" really did show up in his preseason debut with the team on Saturday, a mere 48 hours after being signed off the street. And that was just what the doctor ordered for a team that has a collection of talented no-shows making life difficult right now along the defensive line.
DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff are all long gone, and Anthony Spencer and Henry Melton remain out due to injury. At this point, the Cowboys have to come to grips with the idea that neither of those players is likely to be consistently reliable in 2014.
That means defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will once again have to work his magic with so-called scrubs. Minter fits the profile, just as George Selvie did last year at this exact same stage.
Signed in the 11th hour of the offseason last summer, Selvie—who had bounced around from St. Louis to Carolina to Jacksonville, accomplishing precisely nothing along the way—had two sacks and five tackles in his preseason debut against Miami.
And then the former seventh-round pick went on to start all 16 games, finishing second on the team with seven sacks.
He had just 27 NFL snaps in two appearances under his belt, but that didn't stop the second-year undrafted free agent out of Montana State from blowing up with two sacks, four stops (two for a loss) and a forced fumble on 29 snaps Saturday against Baltimore, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
"Players were coming up to me and literally hit me, ‘Don’t take 79 out,'" Garrett said, according to MacMahon. "They didn’t even know who the hell he was."
So, would it surprise anyone if Minter became yet another surprise 16-game starter and pass-rushing pillar along a defensive line that continues to find diamonds in the rough? Selvie himself believes it's a possibility.
"He came out and made a big splash," said Selvie, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. "We need playmakers like that. I did the same thing last year, so I got excited for him."
Now, less than a week into his tenure with the Cowboys, Minter finds himself working with first-teamers in practice. Another solid performance against the Dolphins Saturday night and the 23-year-old will officially become the favorite to have a Selvie-style breakout season in 2014.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFC East for Bleacher Report since 2012.
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