Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garret has always preached competition; here are some the position battles looming between rookies and veterans.
Tyrone Crawford vs. Kenyon Coleman
Tyrone Crawford, the dynamic Defensive End out of Boise State, received the phone call from Jerry Jones for two reasons: one, the Cowboys love his upside, and two, the defensive line was awful at rushing the passer last season. Pathetic really. Jason Hatcher had a decent season with 4 sacks, but the rest of the main defensive line rotation-Kenyon Coleman, Jay Ratliff and Marcus Spears, combined for the same number.
Backups Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent have flashed potential (and Clifton Geathers’ size is intriguing), but the group as a whole under-performed, even accounting for the lesser role in pass rushing the Defensive Line has in a 3-4 defense.
There’s no point in drafting a player in the third round to have him continuously sit on the bench, and it would stunt his growth as a player to have him in the back of the rotation, so one of the veterans may get released.
Kenyon Coleman had 1 sack all of last year, and at 33 years old his time wearing 99 is coming to a close. Save for two fluke seasons, he has averaged less than 25 tackles and 8.5 sacks a seasons. He simply doesn’t have much in the tank, if he ever did, and is a waste of 1.75 million dollars.
If Marcus Spears hadn’t signed an extension, he would be on this list too, but with the cap penalties imposed by the NFL there isn’t any room to make a move. If the penalties get overturned, then Marcus Spears could see his time as a Dallas Cowboy end too, as there are simply two younger, cheaper, possiblly more effective players ready to take his job.
Danny Coale vs. Kevin Ogletree
Kevin Ogletree, though injury prone (an ailment he has never lost) seemed like a decent player with enough upside to be a solid contributor if he could ever stay healthy, and he has succeeded in a way few undrafted players do.
That does not mean he is a good player.
Like Martellus Bennett, inopportune drops seemingly by the dozens have plagued his tenure as a slot receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, a position that hasn’t been rectified since Patrick Crayton went to the Chargers for a seventh round pick. Danny Coale, who other than one supposed “drop” in the Orange Bowl had displayed good hands, was drafted in the fifth round, breaking a string of four straight defensive players drafted.
Most scouts question his break away speed, but seeing as that isn’t Ogletree’s specialty either, the issue shouldn’t hamper Coale’s chances as much as it would on other teams. Another added bonus: Coale played punter too, so if Chris Jones has issues, Coale could serve as an emergency substitute.
Morris Claiborne vs: Mike Jenkins
Saving the most obvious for last, Morris Claiborne likely spells the end of Mike Jenkins’ time as a Cowboy, though that will likely culminate at the end of this season, as there seem to be no trade takers. Claiborne, like Jenkins, topped (or nearly topped) the cornerback list in their respective drafts, and both have the potential to win multiple pro-bowls (Jenkins has already won one.) The problem with Jenkins, and the reason that his job will inevitably be gone at the beginning of next year, is that he is injured so much that he is rarely at 100%, and is much less effective near the end of the season. This phenomenon could be a reason that the defense was so awful in the last few games-with both Jenkins and former Cowboy Terrence Newman banged up, there ability to do anything diminished greatly. In other areas, such as coverage ability or size, Morris Claiborne is just better than Mike Jenkins. Both are good in coverage, but Claiborne has been compared favorably to Patrick Peterson (last year’s consensus number one player) in coverage ability, something that Jenkins never sniffed in his own class (astoundingly, that title went to Leodis McKelvin.) Claiborne is also taller, an issue that has plagued the Dallas cornerbacks over the years, and faster. Basically, anything Jenkins can do, the rookie Claiborne can do better, a scenario that has shown itself in two other position battles, and a scenario that will eventually cost Kenyon Coleman, Kevin Ogletree and Mike Jenkins their jobs as Dallas Cowboys.