Dallas Cowboys: 3 breakout players they may cut a year too early

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Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Dallas Cowboys Potential Breakout Cut 2

Bradlee Anae, DE

Years Pro: 1

The Dallas Cowboys scouting department jumped for joy when they snagged one of the most productive and polished pass rushers in the draft class on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was the only edge defender in the class with 40+ QB pressures in three consecutive seasons and he posted the highest win rate (20%) in the Pac-12 in 2019.

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff wasn’t quite so enamored with the pick. Preferring “traits”, Mike Nolan and company refused to use Anae unless they were absolutely forced to. As a result, Bradlee Anae barely played last season and had the draft community scratching their heads as to why he was used so infrequently. Especially since Dallas wasn’t exactly thriving on the edge.

In the end, Anae logged a grand total of six, I repeat, SIX, defensive snaps in 2020. And even though he logged a pressure and a knock down in those half-a-dozen snaps, he was largely relegated to special teams duty.

How this coaching staff treats Anae is anyone’s guess. They seem to be correcting the mistake of using Randy Gregory only sparingly. So it’s possible they will recognize Anae’s ability on the edge as well.

Without the imposing stature or elite physical skills, it’s easy to overlook Bradlee Anae. But he’s produced at every level (including in his six snaps in the NFL) and seems to have the fight and technical skills to do it again if given the opportunity.

But how sure are we he’ll get that in Dallas this year? DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are locked in as the starting bookends, and we have a handful of proven players rotating behind them. Anae is on the fringe and if he misses the cut, Dallas may rue the day.