This past week we began breaking down the WR depth chart in Dallas. Now it’s time to put it all together. With Miles Austin on his way out the door (probably limping) the Cowboys will need to give serious attention to their WR depth and assess its adequacy. With the unproven 2nd year WR, Terrance Williams occupying the #2 spot, it’s difficult to enter the season with an abundance of confidence. Williams did great his rookie season next to Bryant, but can he fill the shoes of Dez Bryant if Bryant is lost to injury?
The answer is to that is likely “no”. But keep in mind, no one in free agency or even the draft, will be able to fill Bryant’s shoes if he’s lost for the season. That’s common across the league. Top players are not replaceable and teams need to gamble somewhere.
Think of the Detroit Lions.
Calvin Johnson is their #1 receiver and arguably the best receiver in the entire league. The Lions are as thin as the Cowboys are at WR. If the Lions lost Johnson to injury they’d be in trouble, much like the Cowboys would be if Bryant was lost. Yet they keep adding players elsewhere because they have greater needs elsewhere.
If Williams continues his progression, there is no reason not to think he could be a solid fulltime #2 receiver in 2014 and develop into even more down the road.
The Dallas Cowboys have a litany of holes on their roster. Would it be nice to bring in a reliable free agent or use a mid-to-high draft pick on a WR? Of course but there are greater needs elsewhere. Especially when you consider the Cowboys investment in the 2 TE offense. Every offseason they waste resources on more TEs and every regular season they neglect using them. If they suffer catastrophic injuries to WR they could (theoretically) cover those injuries by increasing their 12 and 13 formations.
The best thing the Cowboys can do for Terrence Williams’ development is to give him as much playing time as possible in 2014. Bringing in a veteran may alleviate some fears but it could also stunt Williams’ growth. A mid to high draft pick could impact his development as well as neglect roster holes elsewhere.
At this point it’s probably best for the Cowboys to see what they have at WR. Bryant must develop into the top 5 receiver we know he can be. He needs to learn all receiver spots (X,Y, and Z) and be ready to use motion every play if necessary.
Williams must continue his development and work on his timing and general chemistry with QB, Tony Romo.
Cole Beasley must continue to develop as a slot receiver, in addition to becoming a reliable return man behind Dwyane Harris. Dwyane Harris must find a way to contribute to the offense more, working out of more than just the slot receiver spot.
It’s reasonable to assume the Cowboys will only keep 5 WRs on the roster at the close of training camp. Bryant, Williams, and Harris are locks. Beasley is a pretty sure thing despite no special teams play. That likely leaves only 1 more WR spot on the roster. The Cowboys should be able to bring in a late round draft pick or two to add to the competition. Expect a multidimensional WR able to play all 3 receiver spots as well as special teams.
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