Today ends the first week of Cowboys camp, with the Blue-White Scrimmage taking place tomorrow. Here are some preliminary run downs of young offensive players and some bubble players in the running for Cowboys roster spots. Developmental curves are never linear, and guys who have lagged may suddenly have their light go on and make their move in week two or three. Therefore, take these reviews as temporary.
— Travis Frederick: Your starting center. That’s set. The team continues to work him from time to time at the guard spots, but when the team scrimmages 11-on-11, he’s the guy feeding the ball to Tony Romo.
He’s been steady. He and his fellow guards had some trouble coordinating in the first couple of days and tripped each other on stretch runs. That has disappeared. Frederick is still working on handling really quick DTs. Ben Bass can swim past him in 1-on-1 drills. When the play is live, Tony Romo’s inner pocket has been sound, and that’s due in great part to Frederick’s presence. That part of the Cowboys offense is far ahead of last year. He’s been pulling on flanker screens, another benefit from his spot. Having another interior who can pull adds flexibility to the running and passing games.
— David Arkin: We’re still waiting for Mackenzy Bernadeau to challenge him but at the moment Arkin is the starting right guard. Phil Costa is working at this position, but he’s taking all his reps with the 2nd unit. Arkin has always been able to pull and the Cowboys are using his quicks to flip their run balance. In their glory days, they put Nate Newton, their best power puller, at left guard and ran power, their inside counter, to the right behind RT Erik Williams, their best straight-line blocking tackle.
These days, that power OT is LT Tyron Smith. Dallas is now running power, for the first week anyway, primarily to the left, with Arkin pulling behind Smith.
Arkin needs more consistency hitting his targets on the move, but he looks much stronger in his lower half and is anchoring much better than he did last year, when he was walked back in the pocket by bull rushers.
— Gavin Escobar: He’s a work in progress, but a promising one. He’s dialed in the pro game’s speed and is getting up the field with regularity now. The team is not limiting his duties, thinking he’ll work as an H-back as a rookie. He’s got the full F-back package of duties. He flexes into the backfield on inside running plays. He takes on ILBs in the hole. He blocks inside and on the edge against LB blitzers. He’s been the second TE on the flank and the on-the-line Y. He’s lined up in the slot and as a flanker.
His success this year will be dictated by the little things. Does he get low and root out LBs on the lead draw? Can he master the route tree? Can he add some of the little feints and push offs veterans like Witten and Dante Rosario have down? His skill set is very appealing. I still see him struggle to break free on out-breaking routes. He gets caught up with arms and feet. He’s not a burner, but like Jason Witten, he’s fast enough up the seam. He’s so massive and has such long arms that he can play box out anywhere in the middle of the field . When he crosses a LB’s or S’s face, it’s over. He’s open and he’s catching the ball.