With question marks virtually everywhere on the roster, the Cowboys need many players to step up into key roles in 2014. Rookie WR from Pittsburg, Devin Street, is one of those players. On the surface it may seem as though the fifth round pick is nothing more than a developmental player with a #3 WR ceiling at the very best, but upon further review, Devin Street is much more.
With the banishing of oft-injured WR, Miles Austin, the Cowboys face an unfamiliar depth concern at WR this season. Dez Bryant stands alone at the top with Terrance Williams distantly behind him as the likely #2 WR. Past those two receivers, stand the diminutive duo of Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley. And that’s about it. Beyond Street and the Cowboys’ established four WRs, is a mix of longshots and training camp bodies.
The Cowboys plan to enter the regular season with five receivers on roster and Beasley and Harris are very limited in what they can do on offense. Neither of them are adequate options on the outside and are only suitable in a slot role. Street can play the outside receiver spots and that’s why he’s so important to the Cowboys.
Jason Garrett discusses this aspect with DMN,
We just felt like having a bigger guy that can play both inside and outside would be something that could be beneficial to our team. [Street is] an accomplished route runner. You see him playing both inside and out so whether you are absorbing an injury or just playing three guys, we feel like bringing a guy in like that could really help us.
Ideally an outside receiver would be a burner. He would stretch the defense and occupy a safety. Bryant and Williams aren’t burners by any means, but they have enough speed to keep opponents honest and plenty fearful. Street has less speed than even them, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play the outside.
Street’s main knock in college was his inability to create separation against some of the better defensive backs. Despite this speed deficiency, he still found a way to make plays on a regular basis. Standing at 6’3” Street has the length and ball-skills to win most battles. Despite being considerably thin (195lbs), Street wins battles by body positioning and precise route running.
Behind QB Tom Savage, Pittsburg ran a pro-style offense and demanded the best from their leading receiver. In his 10 starts, Street averaged over 5 catches and 85 yards per game in 2013. He has proven he knows where to be and when to be there. He will need to develop chemistry with Romo because he doesn’t always appear to be open. Recognizing when he is open will take time.
If the Cowboys go to a 3 WR set, Devin could be that 3rd WR. Dez Bryant was neutralized all too often in 2013 because teams locked in on him knowing he was uncomfortable using motion and/or playing from the slot. Dez is committed to improving his game and learning X, Y, and Z receiver spots equally. If Dez can line up anywhere (or motion anywhere), the opposing coverages cannot neutralize him so easily. But if Dez needs positional versatility to move inside, so does the 3rd WR.
Cole Beasley and Dwyane Harris get smothered on the outside and are usually non-factors. Street has the ability and knowledge to line up anywhere and do so effectively. Street can make Bryant better, Williams better, and the team better. And he can do it all whether he makes a catch or not. His ability to play the outside is what makes him so important to this offense in 2014.
Street tells all22breakdown.com,
“I talked to coach Dooley about what my role will be. I’m going to line up in the slot, as well as outside, so I’ll need to know the whole route tree. I’m a precise route-runner, which I think will be the biggest thing that I’ll bring to the table. I’ll be running very complex routes.”
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