The Dallas Cowboys have landed in Oxnard, California and that can only mean one thing; football season is back! Dallas will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game on August 5th; from the time I’m writing this that will be in about two weeks. A lot can happen in that time, one of which being under-the-radar athletes making a name for themselves at training camp.
Every year, every team has young players that eventually outshine the veterans on the team. For the Cowboys, that trend always “oddly” happens at the same positions like safety, interior defensive line, and backup quarterback. This might sound like a systemic problem regarding the team prioritizing these positions less, but when you look at how the younger players have performed over time, it’s possible the team is correctly evaluating the young players on the team.
This year is no exception. If anything, we should expect more young players to surpass the veterans. After last year’s failure of an experiment, the team was very particular about the free agents they signed still prioritizing youth development in the end. Outside of Brent Urban, Damontae Kazee, and Tarell Basham, every other free agent has an equal chance of making the roster as being sent to the chopping block. (Yes, this includes Keanu Neal as he is now a part of an overcrowded linebacker room)
Who are three players to watch out for this training camp?
Nahshon Wright, Cornerback
Years Pro: Rookie
It has been all of one week since I penned this and Nahshon Wright is looking incredibly comfortable in his short time wearing the Star. On his first day at practice, he had 3 Pass Break Ups, one of which almost ended in an interception. If only someone had told you he’s the ideal fit for this defense.
*fans in the general direction*
Wright’s blend of size and mobility are so rare in the NFL that only a few cornerbacks that tall can claim to have been successful. He tries to emulate Richard Sherman’s game; while he has a lot to do before he can be mentioned in the same stratosphere, he possesses a lot of the IQ and ball skills and plays in an identical scheme that made Sherman a shutdown cornerback for almost a decade in this league.
The former Beaver was running with the second unit on Thursday alongside his rookie partner Kelvin Joseph. They were tasked guarding players like Brennan Eagles, Malik Turner, and Noah Brown so it might not seem as important that he made plays in unpadded practices, but the video above showed good play recognition from a high-low read. Skill level aside, the high football IQ was very present and could only be seen as a positive.
Hopefully, we see more of this to come because there is a good chance he gets major playing time this season.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE
Years Pro: 1
The former fifth-round pick has been stuck in a logjam with the team investing a lot of resources at OLB and EDGE after getting a handful of snaps in 2020. Now on the outside looking in, Anae has some ground to make up. Fortunately for him, EDGE Chauncey Gholston is currently on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list to start camp. This should provide Anae more opportunities than he likely would’ve had.
Anae has the body type of an outside linebacker in a 3-4 base scheme and considering most of the options on the team, he stacks amongst the most technically sound on the team. After all, the former Utah Ute had 13 sacks his final season in Salt Lake City.
Years Pro: 2
Wilson seems like an odd man out here amongst this list of people, but is he? The Aggie came along nicely at the end of last season creating turnovers and coming in with some clutch tackles after fans were clamoring the team to start playing him more often.
But it’s very likely there might have been a legitimate reason after a certain someone on Twitter made a claim that Wilson wasn’t showing up in practice like he should’ve been. (I couldn’t find the original tweet, but I do remember the tweet) I’m not in the business of refuting a claim, I’m just here to talk about the repercussions of such claims.
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The Cowboys are expected to sign Malik Hooker, if they haven’t already, which means another player of similar quality is in the defensive backfield. Hooker doesn’t have the tackling ability of Wilson near the box, but he does have plenty of experience playing in a split-safety scheme under former Cowboys LBs coach, Matt Eberflus, and in a single-high scheme from his time in Ohio State.
If Wilson can’t show out in practice *again* all of sudden his snap count starts to suffer. With a player of Hooker’s pedigree, as long as he doesn’t get injured, he may never give up his spot. (This is a huge if, and it gets bigger considering Hooker isn’t AS good as he once was)
If Wilson picks off where he left, I might just be making a mountain out of a molehill.
- Published on 07/24/2021 at 13:02 PM
- Last updated at 07/24/2021 at 13:10 PM