Dallas Cowboys: Three 2018 predictions

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Free safety Byron Jones
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Free safety Byron Jones /

The Dallas Cowboys will have plenty of questions answered this season. Let’s take a look at three predictions for the team in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of getting their rookie players signed and situated in Big D. In a few short months the Cowboys will be getting a lot of those players ready for their first taste of preseason action. With so many questions surrounding this roster, it will be exciting to see just how this team comes together when they need to play against a real opponent. Expectations are high (like every season)

The Cowboys defense begins to close out games: Dallas has invested too much into their young defense to not see some payoff this season. A completely rebuilt secondary plus a collection of young and talented pass rushers will allow the Cowboys to finally stop teams during crunch time. Kris Rishard the man who made the “Legion of Boom” has been signed on as the secondary coach and he already has a feel for this units biggest strengths and weaknesses.

Byron Jones moving to outside corner should help him finally settle into a role, while Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie look to continue their growth at the position. Lewis specifically has been praised for his aggressiveness and ability to battle. Safeties Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods will likely get the first chance at starting, and both players have proven to be very dangerous if put in the right position.

First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch along with Chris Covington will solidify this linebacking corps, and with everyone fully healthy this could be one of the best units in the league. The defensive line added a few key pieces as well. Fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong Jr will be added to the defensive rotation as he is another talented rookie looking to make his mark on the NFL.

Taco Charlton will have a year of experience under his belt, and he looked markedly better at the end of the season than he did earlier on in 2017. If Taco can take that next step he will be just one of the reasons this pass rush finally generates a ton of pressure.

With David Irving likely to be available for most of the games this season despite off the field rumblings, the Cowboys look to have a full complement of pass rushers that should keep opponents off balance. Oh yeah, and Randy Gregory is potentially returning to the fold as he seeks to be reinstated. If that happens, the Cowboys will have another talented defensive weapon at their disposal. 

Byron Jones becomes a starter at cornerback, and has the best year of his career (so far): Touching on the secondary once again, this is a make or break year for cornerback Byron Jones. He is approaching a contract year and must find a permanent role in the secondary.

Jones has played mostly at safety, covering some of the best tight ends in football, however, his length and speed should help him handle outside receivers as well. Kris Richard wanted to draft Jones when he was with the Seattle Seahawks, so Jones’s move to cornerback was not made on a whim. The new secondary coach clearly has a plan for the veteran corner and if any coach were to get the most out of Jones it would be Richard.

Byron will likely start on the outside with either Jourdan Lewis or Chidobe Awuzie manning the opposite side. Right now it looks like Lewis will be that guy but we are still a long way away from Week One. In 2018 it appears the Dallas Cowboys are ready to lean on Jones as much as possible and that may be for the best.

Michael Gallup has a big year: The rookie will break the standard trend of receivers being ineffective during their first season in the league. Gallup has the work ethic and the tools to be one of the greats in this league. He reminds me of Doug Baldwin with a little bit of Allen Hurns to his game. 

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Gallup is a third-round pick, who is not expected to replace Dez Bryant, but there is just something about his game that really stands out. Gallup focuses on catching the ball with his hands and not his body, that is rare these days. With Bryant and Jason Witten out of the lineup, there are a ton of targets to go around, realistically they will get split between Allen Hurns, Cole Bealey, Tavon Austin, and Michael Gallup.

Terrance Williams and Cedrick Wilson should also factor in but not nearly as much as the other guys in this group. Gallup can operate on the outside and in the slot, but his strengths are everything that Dak Prescott is pretty good at. Catching the ball on short routes and gaining yards after the catch, he is the best wide receiver in his class at running hitch routes and is very safe and sure-handed, something Prescott will love.

This was a draft pick specifically for Prescott, to make this offense friendlier to his skill set. I do not know if defenses plan on doubling anyone out of this group, rather they may look to double players situationally. Allen Hurns will be the A1 target in this group, but Cole Beasley in the slot is still incredibly dangerous.

All of these players excel at different things which will make the Dallas offense somewhat hard to stop. If everyone is doing their job, everyone should excel. Dak just needs receivers who are sure-handed and can get open based off of the routes that they run, Gallup has all of those traits and more.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Projected rookie roles for 2018

Gallup specializes in getting open in space and making a big play, he will have a lot of opportunities to make an impact for this offense.