The 2017 season is long over for Dallas Cowboys. It ended somewhere around Christmas. Since then, Dallas franchise is focused solely on improving the roster for 2018. With free agency upon us, it is clear that some players are going to leave Texas for better or for the worse.
Bene Benwikere and Brice Butler won’t return. The later one burned bridges back to Dallas with his public statements about the team and Dez Bryant while former one is surplus to requirements. L.P. Ladouceur has held snapping duties for Cowboys almost his entire career, but his return is still up in the air. Veterans Alfred Morris and Kyle Wilber will probably look to resume their career outside of Arlington. Jonathan Cooper, Byron Bell, and Joe Looney will all be free agents, and while Cowboys will undoubtedly resign one of them, the other two will most likely be out.
On the defense, DeMarcus Lawrence will be back, on a new contract or under the franchise tag, but he will remain in Dallas. Same can’t be said for Anthony Hitchens. Although he is an important player on Cowboys roster, he will probably leave because some other franchise will be able and willing to offer him more than America’s Team.
As soon as the season ended, people started talking about Dallas Cowboys needs in upcoming free agency and draft. As things stand now, they will need to find a replacement for one wide receiver, a running back, and for an offensive lineman, or even two. Other positions that require improvements are at linebacker (two), and cornerback.
So, how are Cowboys going to fill their ranks for 2018 season?
Well, you can already guess, same as previous years they won’t make noise in free agency. Yes, they will sign few free agents to fill the roster, but there won’t be any big-name signings. The players that should improve Dallas’s chances of reaching the postseason will come through the draft. So, not to repeat ourselves, but primary needs for Cowboys are a linebacker, receiver, and offensive lineman. These are the needs in first rounds of the draft, later on, the focus should shift to defensive tackle.
But, the things mentioned above are players and positions but what Dallas Cowboys actually need is ability. Not just any, not a pure football skill. What they need most is speed.
With all of the shifts and changes that occur every year in Dallas the team always seem that it lacks speed. This is strange, considering that this team is very young. On current Cowboys roster out of players that are certain of having their spot in starting lineup only four are older than 30. There are twelve players under 24 that will have a significant role next season. Their defense and secondary are young and have enough athleticism, but they severely lack speed.
On the offense, there isn’t a player such as, for example, Saint’s Alvin Camara. There are a couple of speedy players on Cowboys team, but none to make your head turn. The dominant franchise teams of the past were built around speed. This was most noticeable on defense.
The need for speed can be compensated trough draft but Cowboys failed to do so in the past, and they shouldn’t do the same now. In 2014 they passed on Telvin Smith and picked Hitchens instead. So far both have played 60 games in NFL. Smith has 345 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and seven interceptions. Hitchens has 199 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and only one interception. You see where’s this going?
In 2015 they made a similar mistake. They picked Randy Gregory in round two. A highly controversial player who since played only in 14 games recording one sack. Selected below him in the draft by Seahawks that same year was Frank Clark who played 46 games and recorded 22 sacks. Is it clearer now?
So, not only do Cowboys need to focus on specific positions they need to focus on players that have speed. In the recent past, they have failed to do so and ended up with guys that have performed far worse than players picked below them. And, most importantly, speed was overlooked. This time around Cowboys need to pick smarter, and faster (speed).