Dallas Cowboys: Can this UDFA crack the final roster?

Sewo Olonilua, TCU Horned Frogs (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Sewo Olonilua, TCU Horned Frogs (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys could bulk up their running back depth chart with this UDFA addition.

The Dallas Cowboys have hit some famous jackpots when it comes to gambling on undrafted free agents (UDFA). Names like quarterback Tony Romo, kicker Dan Bailey, and wide receiver Cole Beasley were all acquired after their respective drafts.

History shows us you can find Hall of Fame-worthy hidden gems as undrafted free agents. The Cowboys would not be the same beloved franchise without legends like wide receiver Drew Pearson, defensive backs Everson Walls and Cornell Green, safety Bill Bates, plus many others.

Even current Cowboys who were former undrafted rookie free agents like right guard La’el Collins and tight end Blake Jarwin are both slated to be starters this upcoming season for Dallas. Last season, UDFA linebacker Luke Gifford was having an excellent training camp before he suffered an ankle injury in his first preseason game.

ALSO READ: Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents in Dallas Cowboys History

The point being, fans should not be quick to dismiss the contributions these undrafted rookies can make. Looking over the current roster in Dallas, there appears to be an opening for a third running back behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the depth chart. And a rookie UDFA seems primed to earn that role.

Outside of Elliott, Pollard, and fullback Jamize Olawale, the Cowboys’ running back depth chart includes Jordan Chunn, Darius Anderson, Sewo Olonilua, and Rico Dowdle. Chunn went undrafted out of Troy in 2018. And Anderson, Olonilua, and Dowdle are all undrafted rookies.

Here’s how David Helman of DallasCowboys.com responded recently to a mailbag question asking which undrafted rookie free agents could make the roster this season.

"” … I’m very intrigued by Sewo Olonilua. He played his college ball right across town at TCU, and his skill set is awfully intriguing. He ran for 537 yards and eight touchdowns for the Horned Frogs last year — and oh by the way, he’s 6’3, 240 pounds. He’s got the skill to play running back and the size to play fullback.”"

For most NFL teams, the fullback position went the way of the dodo several years ago. But under former head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys were one of the few teams that insisted on employing one.

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New Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy also has a history of using fullbacks during his 13-year stint at the helm of the Green Bay Packers. All-Pro fullback John Kuhn being the most famous example. Towards the end of his tenure in Green Bay, McCarthy actually employed two fullbacks on his roster in Aaron Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge.

The Cowboys traded for their current starting fullback, Olawale, back in 2018. Dallas exchanged late-round draft picks with the Oakland Raiders for his services. Olawale has had little to no impact outside of being a blocker for Dallas. He has yet to have a single rushing attempt and has only recorded two receptions for 13 yards over the past two years.

But the addition of Olonilua could change the fullback narrative in Big D. The Cowboys love position flex. And if Olonilua can prove to be an effective backup running back and fulfill fullback duties as well, that could open up a precious spot for Dallas when they are cutting down the roster to 55-players this September.

At 6-foot-3, 240-pounds, Olonilua would also give the Dallas Cowboys something they currently lack. That’s a true bruiser back that could be brought in as a short-yardage specialist. Olonilua’s presence could help Elliott avoid some of the wear and tear he has to go through during a grueling season, potentially lengthening the starter’s career.

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As a senior at TCU last season, Sewo Olonilua racked up 537 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.0 yards per carry. He also had 24 receptions for 114 yards in 12 games.