Oxnard, California. Two weeks. Dallas Cowboys Training Camp.
This offseason hasn’t gone as I’m sure Jerry Jones and company had planned. First the team lost a good chunk of their starting defense in free agency. With: Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Justin Durant, Terrell McClain, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox leaving, the Cowboys front office turned to free agency, the draft, and returning players to fill their shoes.
Nolan Carroll was the first big addition in free agency, signing a 3 year, $10 million deal. Then just three months after moving to a new city and signing his new deal, Nolan Carroll was arrested on the suspension of driving while intoxicated. While no actual charges have been filed and no suspensions have been announced, it’s not something the Cowboys front office wanted to deal with from their biggest free agent signing for the 2016-2017 season.
Stephen Paea was the next big free agent to sign with the team this offseason. Paea has spent time with the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns in recent years and hasn’t been able to regain the form he left Chicago with in 2014. Paea looked in shape and disruptive early on in OTA’s before suffering a knee injury that held him out of most of mini-camp.
David Irving, a player whose role was going to increase heavily in his third year with the Cowboys, is now suspended the first four games of the season due to a failed drug test. Irving was potentially battling for a starting spot at left end, but was going to see significant playing time either way. Irving will have to watch from the sidelines the first four weeks of the season now though while serving his suspension.
For the first time since 2004 the Cowboys didn’t draft a linebacker. Why is that? They were putting a lot of faith in third year player Damien Wilson who played extremely well, and even earned a starting job towards the end of the 2016 season. Then Damien Wilson, was arrested over the Fourth of July weekend while viewing fireworks in Texas. Wilson was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and if convicted could face up to 40 years in prison. Currently, Wilson is still on the roster and no comments have been made regarding his situation, but again it does not look good for Damien Wilson or the linebacking corps of the Dallas Cowboys. I had Wilson penciled in as my starting SAM linebacker and was looking at him potentially having a huge role in 2017.
The only real positives that have surrounded the Cowboys this offseason was the draft the team had back in April. After making a questionable pick in, Taco Charlton in the first round, the Cowboys knocked the rest of the draft clean out of the park.It’s not a reach to think that five of the nine draft picks could end up starting for the team at some point this season.
First round pick, Taco Charlton was a draft crush of mine, but he will likely have a starting spot heading into training camp. Charlton has ideal traits as a productive left end against the run, but lacks top end speed and that “twitchy” style of play that seems to be dominating around the league in today’s game. Taco isn’t going to be a difference maker right away, but hopefully down the road he will develop into the dominant pass rusher the Cowboys so dearly need.
Chidobe Awuzie is likely the player who will be relied on the most in 2017 due to his versatility. Awuzie is able to play safety, nickel corner, and base corner and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting in the first few weeks if not week one.
Jourdan Lewis may have been the most talented nickel corner in the entire draft, but fell due to the domestic violence investigation that is still hanging over his head. Lewis court date is scheduled for July 24th and it could either be really good news for the team, or another player to chalk up in the suspension column.
Ryan Switzer has already seemed to win the love of Cowboys Nation. Switzer will get first dibs to win the starting return specialist job and will likely see significant snaps on offense. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t received many big plays from their special teams since Dwayne Harris left back in 2014.
Xavier Woods is another intriguing option as the safety position still has some sorting out to do. Woods is a hard hitting ball hawk style of safety that was highly productive in college. Not only does he bring an impressive new turnover aspect to the Cowboys defense that they have so sorely missed, but he is also excellent in coverage. Woods has plenty competition in front of him in Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier, but don’t be surprised to see Woods get a fair shot at a starting safety spot right away.
Even the later round picks: Noah Brown, Joey Ivie, Marquez White, and Jordan Carrell have a real chance to make the final 53 man roster and contribute as rookies. With all the negative surrounding the team right now, it’s nice to reflect back on the draft and realize how much potential this years class has.
This offseason has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride for the Dallas Cowboys and with still a long way to go let’s all cross our fingers that no more suspensions, arrests, or injuries will happen until we arrive in Oxnard in just two weeks. Until then,
Can the Dallas Cowboys get out of their own way?
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