Position: Wide Receiver
Size: 6'2, 213
Age: 27, 1/8/84
College: North Carolina
Drafted: Undrafted in 2007
Experience: 1 Season
Salary History and Contract Status - 2011: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
2007 Draft Profile: Tied for 34th rated WR in 2007 - Jesse Holley - North Carolina - 6'2 - 205 - 4.69 - To show you how far off the map Holley was in the 2007 NFL Draft, Ourlads.com did not write a scouting profile of Holley. This is particularly remarkable given that exhaustive guide generally writes profiles for everyone that is anywhere close to being drafted. To further demonstrate his issues, he only lasted 5 weeks on Cincinnati's practice squad and 1 preseason game in the Canadian Football League before the BC Lions decided they did not need to see more. To say he was a fringe prospect would be a disservice to fringe prospects.
Pre-2010: You could certainly make the case that Holley's road to the NFL is among the oddest routes we can recall. The reason is that to the best of anyone's knowledge, nobody else has ever "won" a chance to tryout on a reality television show. But, in the spring of 2009, Michael Irvin had a short-lived reality TV show on Spike TV called, "4th and Long" where Irvin put players through a series of competitions and drills to "find Jerry Jones a player". At the time, the show was seen as a mockery of the player evaluation system in the NFL and a bit of an insult to Jerry's scouting department. Regardless, Holley emerged in this reality show as the winner, and was therefore sent to training camp. The debate was whether he was just a camp body, a roster candidate, or a circus sideshow. Whatever the case, Holley did not distinguish nor embarrass himself in the 2009 Cowboys' training camp and blended right in. He was released, and then signed to the Cowboys practice squad and remained there for the 2009 season.
2010: Again in 2010, Holley went through training camp with the Cowboys and again did not make the team out of training camp. Just like 2009, he was then put on the practice squad and continued to work hard and learn the game. Meanwhile, on October 10th, Marc Mariani and the Titans put together a day that caused the Cowboys to take a hard look at the coverage special teams situation very carefully. There were some players that were thought to be very poor special teams players and the Cowboys sought replacements in a hurry. This was Holley's chance. In his first game on the coverage units, Percy Harvin ran back a 92-yard return for a Touchdown, but over the last 12 games of the season, Holley was active every game and was a heavy contributor on all four special teams. The highlight of his year was a strip of Reggie Bush on a punt return on Thanksgiving Day that turned into a very big takeaway. As a WR, He played 11 offensive snaps in 2010 (5 in Green Bay and 6 in Arizona) and did not have a ball thrown his direction.
2011 Analysis: A great story of perseverance and staying after your goals, Holley enters next year as one of the regulars on special teams. Every team needs a spine on those units, and after Sam Hurd, Barry Church, and Danny McCray, Holley is there with Leon Williams as players who are bit older than usual for this job but seem quite capable and willing to stay in the NFL by throwing their bodies around the field on return and coverage units. These are the decisions that a team has to make: do your 4th and 5th Wide Receivers need to be a special teams standouts (Holley and Hurd) or developmental WRs (Manuel Johnson and Kevin Ogletree)? Again, you would prefer that you could find prospects who could do both, but so far it seems the Cowboys have players in distinct categories. Assuming that the Cowboys realize that they cannot afford to be reckless with their special teams after the way last season started, I would think Holley is penciled in as a player who they can count on to make sure Mariani and Harvin-type plays do not repeat themselves in 2011.