The Dallas Cowboys entered camp with a glaring hole at the 3rd WR spot. While that doesn’t sound very concerning, The Landry Hat’s very own, Steven Mullenax explained a few weeks back, the 3rd WR represents something more than just the guy in the slot and/or the 4th receiving option. Our internal receiving corps must not only effectively solve the slot but also provide a suitable injury substitution for Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Stepping up into this multidimensional role is a big thing to ask a group of young receivers with virtually no game experience. Lucky for us they did step up. The only problem is too many of them stepped up and now we have to decide who we keep and who we are going to hand over to our competition.
Before we go over our list, let’s clear some details up first. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are obviously roster locks so we won’t spend time reviewing their performance (or lack thereof). Based on historical trends around the league, most teams keep between 5-7 WR’s on their final 53. Because of our wealth of talent and current injury concerns, we will operate under the assumption Dallas will keep 6, possibly 7, WR’s. With two of those spots belonging to Austin and Bryant we are looking to fill no more than 5 more roster spots. Because these last spots are just as much about development as they are about current value-added, we will include some helpful measurables with the player breakdowns below. The following WR’s are listed in order of likelihood they will make the final 53 man roster.
3. Cole Beasley
(Height: 5’8″, Weight: 175, Age: 23, 40 time: 4.49) Cole Beasley is more likely to make the team than Kevin Ogletree? Yes, for a few reasons. He is younger, cheaper, and developed immediate chemistry with Tony Romo. Unlike Ogletree, he actually plays Special Teams which is fairly important. Cole has a great knack at finding the soft spots and ad-libbing a route when Romo breaks the pocket and needs an outlet. This kid could be special and quite possibly be the key to any possible success this season. You see it. I see it. The Dallas Cowboys see it.
4. Kevin Ogletree
(Height: 6’1″, Weight: 200, Age: 25, 40 time: 4.36) Kevin has looked great this off-season and is the clear favorite to win the 3 WR job. He can play both outside spots and the slot. That is extremely valuable on a team with oft-injured starters. The team was down on him last year but Tree still holds potential. He’s young and he’s very fast so it’s easy to jump back on his bandwagon. The only thing that could keep Tree from making this team is if a veteran free agent is signed. Without providing a special teams contribution, Tree needs to win the 3 WR or he will be without a job. It appears he has won it.
5. Dwyane Harris
(Height: 5’10″, Weight: 205, Age: 24, 40 time: 4.51) Dwayne blew up in Saturday’s game against the Rams. He displayed great awareness and route running. He has enough speed and power to break tackles and pile up the YAC (Yards After Catch). In addition, he plays special teams which is usually a requirement in all non-starters. What sets him apart is he’s showing an amazing amount of reliability, comfort, and even swagger. The question isn’t if Dwyane Harris has arrived – He has. The question is if he will be playing for us or against us. If he doesn’t make the roster there is no question he will sign with someone else. Can Dallas afford that?
6. Danny Coale
(Height: 6’0″ , Weight: 200 , Age: 24 , 40 time: 4.37) Not much can be said here about the rookie fifth round pick from Virginia Tech. He was injured the better part of the preseason and hasn’t done much to earn a spot. The best thing going for him is his draft status. It’s not out of the question to cut a rookie draft pick (i.e. Skyler Green and Dwayne Harris) but it’s not generally good business to do so. In his limited practice and game time, he looked good and appears to be worth the draft pick. The problem is so many others look good too. The WR roster dilemma really revolves around Danny Coale. Chances are they will find a way to keep him on the final 53, but at what cost?
7. Andre Holmes
(Height: 6’4″, Weight: 210, Age: 24, 40 time: 4.45) Andre Holmes appears to be the Miles Austin from back in his developmental days. Holmes has three things you can’t teach: size, speed, and leaping ability. He’s just very raw and clearly not comfortable enough yet to impose his will on the field. He has very high potential so we may not see anything out of him this year but his possible reward is worth it. Remember, the Cowboys were surprisingly patient with Miles and it paid off. If they can justify keeping a seventh WR, Holmes makes this team. Expect them to find a way to make him fit.
The Rest of Them
Raymond Radway (Height: 6’3″, Weight: 205, Age: 25, 40 time: 4.42) Unfortunately, Raymond fell on the wrong side of the Danny Coale/Andre Holmes/Mendoza Line. He was therefore among today’s early roster cuts. But this is what you call a Courtesy Cut. The Cowboys knew he wasn’t going to make the team so they cut him early to give him a chance to sign on with another team. His leg injury from last year healed but he was clearly not comfortable yet or performing to the level he performed at last year. He is still listed here because he is potentially a practice squad target. He holds some good up-side so if he doesn’t sign and/or stay with another team, he will likely be welcomed back.
Tim Benford and Saalim Hakim: Of these two, Hakim has the biggest upside so expect him to make the practice squad. He’s too raw for Dallas or any other team to use a roster spot on so he’s a pretty safe bet to stay in Dallas. Benford is playing very well and could be signed by another team who’s thin at WR. He has certainly earned a practice squad spot with his play and as long as another team doesn’t swoop in and grab him, he will get one of the first practice squad invites.
If the Cowboys do indeed keep seven WR’s as predicted here, it will require going thin elsewhere. The philosophical question at hand is, “Is a seventh WR more important than a 3rd QB, 10th OL, 5th RB/FB, or 4th TE?” We will soon find out, but too many wide receivers sure is a good problem to have.
Note: All measurables are from player Bio’s and Combine/Pro Day results.