Why the Dallas Cowboys may only keep 5 WRs on the roster

Devin Smith #15 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Devin Smith #15 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Even though the Dallas Cowboys are built to be a pass-heavy offense in 2020, it may behoove them to go shallow at WR

All indications are the Dallas Cowboys will be a pass-heavy offense in 2020. Passing was already a strength of the offense last year, when the team finished second in the NFL in offensive DVOA. But this offseason they seemingly doubled down, letting key defensive players like Byron Jones and Robert Quinn leave all while investing the top draft pick in receiver CeeDee Lamb.

It’s clear this 2020 Dallas Cowboys team will only go as far as their passing game will take them. It’s the strongest unit on the team and the most important element of today’s game. But even still, it may be the best place to go thin in depth…

Looking at the WR ranks, it becomes apparent receiver is the most talented unit on the team. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb are all elite talents capable of leading a position group by themselves.

Because of the pedigree of the top-3 WRs, it would make exactly zero sense to remove any of the three in favor of a lesser receiver buried on the depth chart. On the Dallas Cowboys, WR4 has never been less important than it is this season.

Dallas still needs to protect themselves against injury. And they still need to be equipped to field four or more receivers from time to time. Blake Jarwin, the pass-catching tight end, helps some, but legit receiving depth is needed beyond the top-3. Just not too much depth.

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The Cowboys traditionally use their receiving depth on special teams to justify their roster spots. As we discussed on a couple weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys new special teams coach John “Bones” Fassel prefers to use defenders on his coverage units. That’s why keep more defensive backs than usual makes sense this season (along with another valuable reason) and that’s why keeping less WRs makes sense as well.

The fact that three No. 1 WRs are all on the same team affords the Dallas Cowboys a few liberties in roster building. They can lean on their top receivers more heavily than most teams and not dive into the well and use their lower ranking receivers as often.

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This even extends to the running back position. Ezekiel Elliott is a workhorse who has yet to miss a game to injury. And behind him is arguably the best No. 2 running back in the league in Tony Pollard. Together with fullback Jamize Olawale all can run the ball, pass protect, and catch the ball. Their elite talent and well-rounded skill sets allow the Dallas Cowboys to go thin at RB as well.

Elite talent at WR (and RB) allow the Dallas Cowboys to go thinner than they’d normally go at these positions. This frees roster spots for positions that aren’t as settled and provide opportunities for defensive players who need a little more seasoning and can contribute immediately on special teams.

Must Read. Expect more 2-man coverage on defense from Dallas. light

Next. Cowboys are valuing versatility in their DBs this season. dark

This doesn’t mean Dallas will only roll into game day with just 5 WRs, though. With the game day roster expanded to 55, teams can temporarily promote practice squad WRs for games. This revolving door will help cover them from any unforeseen injuries.

  • Published on 07/07/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 07/03/2020 at 14:39 PM