With free agency and the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, the Dallas Cowboys now look forward to OTAs and training camp leading up to the start of the 2018 season. With that in mind, I will be breaking down the roster by position. Today we will take a look at the Wide Receivers.
When media and fans around the league look at the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers, their instant reaction is the Cowboys passing game is going to struggle. On paper, Dallas appears to have a bottom five group of receivers. Today I will explain why Dallas will not struggle as much as many people believe.
The biggest complaint about the Cowboys receivers is without Dez Bryant Dallas does not have a true number one wideout. While that is a true statement it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Dak Prescott never had a true stud receiver in college and still put up huge numbers. Dak thrives when he can go through his reads and just hit the open guy. Bryant is a great talent, but he is also an alpha male. He needs the ball thrown to him early and often or his focus starts to drift. There was pressure on Prescott to get Bryant the ball, and as a young QB, it may have been too much pressure.
So let’s take a look at who Prescott will be targeting this season. Let’s start with the player that Prescott has had the most chemistry with over his first two seasons, Cole Beasley.
In 2016 Beasley had a career year with then-rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. That season Beasley had 75 receptions, 833 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Last season defenses focused on taking away Beasley by double teaming him. The result was a massive drop in production. Beasley had just 36 receptions, 314 yards, and 4 touchdowns. A major key to success in the passing game will be #4 and #11 finding their 2016 chemistry in again in 2018.
When Dallas signed Allen Hurns in free agency it spelled the end for Dez Bryant’s time as a Cowboy. Hurns will likely line up at the X position the majority of 2018, his fifth season in the league. His breakout season came in 2015 when he hauled in 64 receptions, 1,031 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Hurns is a good receiver but fans shouldn’t have unreasonable expectations. He’s not the Dez Bryant of three or four seasons ago, but neither is Bryant. Hurns is a solid route runner with good hands. He’s a solid piece of the offensive puzzle, but he is not a dominant number one wideout. As long as fans temper their expectations of Hurns I believe they will like what they get from him.
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We’ve discussed the slot receiver, Cole Beasley. We’ve discussed the X receiver, Allen Hurns. So who will be the Z receiver? The past two seasons that player has been Terrance Williams. That may not be the case this season, however. Williams was arrested for public intoxication last week. With that arrest, he could be facing a suspension from the NFL. If Williams is suspended, his guaranteed contract for 2018 could be voided and Dallas could choose to release him and move on. I believe Dallas should move on from Williams. Jason Garrett loves to preach about having the right kind of guys. Guys with high character that do the right thing on and off the field. If Garrett is going to preach that philosophy, then it doesn’t make sense to keep Williams on the team.
In the end it will not matter if Williams is on the team or not, either way, he will not be the starting receiver. That honor will go to rookie Michael Gallup. If you read my previous article you already know that I believe Gallup will be Dallas’ best and most productive wide receiver in 2018. If you didn’t see that article, the reason I am so high on Gallup is he was the best route runner in this years draft class. I already told you Prescott loves to go through his reads and find the open guy. Well more often than not that open guy will be Michael Gallup.
Fellow rookie Cedrick Wilson, second-year pro Noah Brown and recent free agent acquisition Deonte Thompson seem like the favorites to round out the position group.
Dallas may not have the most recognizable names at the receiver position, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done. Dallas is going to be a run-first team, but when they need to pass, they will be able to do it and do it effectively.