Dallas Cowboys: Revisiting the Wide Receiver Room

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 09: Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after making the game winning touchdown in overtime against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 09: Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after making the game winning touchdown in overtime against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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Tavon Austin, Cedric Wilson Jr, Devin Smith, and Noah Brown

So… Tavon Austin once again looks like he may turn into a valuable piece for a team. There’s no denying his speed, but Austin’s general ability to find a specific role and constant injury concerns have turned the former 8th overall pick into a fringe roster addition.

But in his power, he has done what’s been asked of him thus far. In his two preseason games, he’s recorded:

3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 17 yards, 5.4 Yards per catch

With Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb missing games, Austin has been playing with the first team offense. The former mountaineer has been used in shallow routes and has caught everything thrown this way. (This should not come as a surprise as Dak Prescott has been a perfect 9 for 9 this preseason)

Austin has not fielded any punts this preseason, but his success in the return game last season and throughout training camp should be a sufficient evaluation for Austin. The Cowboys were hoping for a speed threat to consistently use in their offense, but it seems the newer additions have not been good enough to replace the 7th year veteran.

Cedric Wilson has been a reliable target for his quarterback this offseason. Playing well in training camp and in his first preseason game, Wilson was finding his niche in the slot. Unfortunately, an illegal hit to the head against the 49ers has him sidelined with a concussion.

Before that unfortunate concussion, Wilson recorded:

3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 36 Yards, 12 yards per catch, 1 kick return, 1 punt return. 

Nothing shabby about this stat line. A 100% catch rate in the preseason is always a great sign and no turnovers in special teams is even better. However, the issue with Wilson continues to be his injury situation.

While him not playing the Rams game improved his case for making the final roster, if the Cowboys elect to make Wilson a member of the 53, Wilson will need to be more cautious. Last season, Wilson was placed on injured reserve after tearing his labrum. This preseason, it’s the concussion. Here’s to hoping his injury situation gets sorted out so we can see the best of Wilson.

After all, having a 6’2″ slot receiver would be quite the fun.

Devin Smith is in his third year in the NFL after playing four years at tOSU. The former second round pick was drafted by the Jets but dealt with many injury issues which ultimately led to his dismissal from the organization.

It seems within two games of football, Smith is reviving his career and proving to everyone why he was drafted so highly. Not only has he produced at a significant level these last two games, but his route running has been more impressive than initially anticipated.

In two preseason games, Smith has recorded:

11 Targets, 6 Receptions, 78 Yards, 1 TD, 13 Yards per catch

Yes! Smith was responsible for the lone passing touchdown the Cowboys have had this preseason and it was a beauty!

The ball placement and the effort by Smith was excellent on this play. It’s moments like these that are strengthening Smith’s case to make the final 53 man roster. He has yet to deal with injuries this training camp and, as a result, has been producing at a favorable level. Here’s to hoping he makes it past the preseason okay.

Then comes the next Buckeye, Noah Brown. Last year, the inclusion of Noah Brown was met with disdain by many. After coming returning from injured reserve, Brown caught a whopping total of 5 passes!

Currently injured, Brown seems like a long shot to make the final 53 even though he’s been with the Cowboys organization the longest out of any receiver on the team. (Yes that was a weird sentence to type) Or so we think…

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Stephen Jones has mentioned Noah Brown several times this offseason. Namely, Brown’s versatility. As one of the bigger receivers listed at 6’2″ and 225 lbs, the Cowboys are impressed with Brown’s run blocking ability. By comparison, he’s faster than most tight ends so playing him at the H-back position could pose a matchup advantage for the Cowboys.

This is dependent upon the Brown’s availability and the Cowboys current tight end depth. With Jason Witten expected to start and Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz following behind him, Brown should not be expected to garner many snaps. Or so we think…

With the way the rest of the receiving depth chart is playing this preseason, the Cowboys might look to bring in Brown for the experience and run blocking. They might follow the same route as last season; place Brown on Injured Reserve and then play him the final 8 games of the season. This way they can deal with a future injury with experience and run blocking. (Nothing is greater than combination)

After all, Austin, Wilson, and Smith have dealt with injuries throughout their relatively short careers. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Next. Cooper Rush has been better than perceived. dark

What we do know, is these next few weeks of preseason football are going to be important for this young group of receivers. Hopefully the promise of the rookie wide receivers will start to show making the wide receiver competition even harder for everyone. Until then, it seems the final depth chart might be more clear than expected.