Friday, August 05, 2016

DMN Cowboys Mailbag - August 5

Well, it is Friday in Oxnard.  The weather is great, the sun is out, and the football continues.  There is actually NFL Football this weekend and we will say that now every weekend from now until right before Valentine's Day.  I hope that makes you as happy as it does me.  
That said, there are a number of things on your mind.  I have been waiting to write something for today that actually will answer many of your questions at the same time.  This may not be a traditional mail-bag, but I hope it is helpful to many of you that seem to all be wondering about the same basic items:
Q:  What's the thing or things you've seen so far in camp that should be encouraging for Cowboys fans?
Q:  Who do you really have your eyes on here that we may not know about?
Q: What roster battles are you interested in as you attend the camp?
Q:  Could Jameill Showers be legit? Saw enough positive tweets yesterday that I'm almost excited to watch him again in the preseason.
Q:  Give us some good news from camp after Kellen Moore downer. Who's impressing you so far?
As you can see, aside from the "who are we going to trade for to back-up Tony Romo" (I don't see anything out there that gets me fired up) questions and the "will Randy Gregory and or Rolando McClain ever be seen again" (Yes on Gregory, No on McClain) questions, everyone else wants to hear about some names down the roster who may emerge in 2016 or soon enough.
So, today, in this mailbag, I want to give you the names that have me interested as I look around this 2-Deep (or in training camp, I guess it is more like a 4-Deep).  I have been to every practice since I have arrived, making notes and talking to my people, and here is my list of various names that are on my mind in no particular order:
QB Jameill Showers - This one is easy.  I promise, since last preseason, he has had a group of people in the organization that have been advocating for him.  He is very talented and very mentally prepared to do what this team wants.  He is a bit short and he does lose the accuracy when he is on the move.  But, his skill set is not that far from Dak Prescott's, aside from what appears to be a bit more confident and sure of where everything is and will be.  Now, maybe, that equalizes when Prescott gets more comfortable.  But, maybe, Showers has a bit more ability to slow things down in his head as everything is flying around.  Either way, many of us were worried that Showers was not going to get consideration for the roster and now he has every chance.  I have seen nothing that scares me, really, and while the Romo '04 comparisons are likely a bit strong, he has that same plan to make people see him when he is playing.  I like him a lot and I hope he plays well in the preseason games to continue to earn his recognition.  
DE David Irving - I planned on writing up his 2015 flashes when I got the chance, because I really liked what he showed in limited work last year.  But, I think his body looks even leaner and his arms still go forever, and I am now comfortable calling him a DE, rather than the DT he seemed to be upon arrival.  Not saying he is the edge rusher you have been looking for, but now his body sure looks like it at 6'7, 285.  He is a physical marvel who can play football, too.  And, he is 22 years old.  

FS Kavon Frazier - Here is a safety they took in the 6th round that I didn't know too much about.  Central Michigan produced a big hitter who has confidence and may provide some very nice special teams play and cover in case Byron Jones needs a spell or two.  I like what I see here and I am starting to use ink when I put the roster together on Kavon.  He doesn't lack for self-belief.  He will need to continue to learn positional discipline (don't eat the cheese), but I like his tools.

LB James Morris - I want to be careful here, because most of my James Morris information and opinions are based on his final year at Iowa before the 2014 draft.  The Cowboys got Anthony Hitchens, so I sat there with Hawkeyes games everywhere and this is the LB that I really was drawn to as a Middle LB candidate.   Since then, he has been on two different injured reserve lists (New England and New York Giants) and both teams decided to throw him back in the water.  This should tell me to slow my roll, but if the 2013 James Morris still lives here, I think he can rise quickly to that early down middle LB that this team needs so badly.  We shall see.  The preseason games will hopefully reveal some things there. 
RB Darius Jackson - Here is another of those 6th round picks.  In fact, I have spent quite a bit of time studying and concluding that the Cowboys Day 3 drafting has been very poor for a long, long time around here.  But, the four 6th rounders in 2016 seem far more promising than other years and I bet they find a few keepers here.  Jackson is this marvel of a physical specimen RB who is getting quite a few reps because of all of the players who are beat up in front of him.  He is nearly 225 and has run a 40 in the 4.35 range with a 41" vertical leap!  He should have the ability to be a real bowling ball, but he only has one strong season at Eastern Michigan (big year for the directional Michigan schools).  He also has to figure out how to make a roster with Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, and Alfred Morris on the roster.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that I doubt any of those three are going to provide special teams value.  So, if he demonstrates in those four preseason games that he can cover kicks, I bet they keep him and maybe say goodbye to McFadden or Morris.  Then, he can figure out how to help as a RB.  But, his meal ticket is special teams.   
DE Charles Tapper - I certainly hoped to be telling you about Benson Mayowa and Maliek Collins here, but since they have yet to really step on a practice field, let's go back to the 4th rounder, Tapper.  You know his game, but I would like to indicate here that he fits pretty well.  He will likely not be a dynamic pass rusher early, but I have to tell you that I am talking myself into thinking this DL is going to be ok, not because of the top-level quality, but because their 5th through 8th DL appear to be capable.  Tapper is another big body who will get after it and give you what he has.  I like the pick here, quite a bit.  2nd round is too much, but in the 4th?  I love it.  
Otherwise, on the kids, Dak Prescott is doing well in taking his time to find the reads that will be high-percentage.  He has to earn a trust early, and firing the ball into coverage might generate the vines everyone wants to see, but it will quickly get the Cowboys coaches to lose faith.  He is very smart to check down in the first week in August.  I like Prescott and I hope they take their time.  I also hope they show us some zone read stuff, but I haven't seen anything in that direction just yet.  It takes time to develop a QB and I think they are smart to not rush him even with Kellen Moore's injury.  
I don't have many opinions on Rico Gathers yet, other than he is enjoyable to visit with.  His project time might be a lot like Prescott's.  But, it seems the Cowboys are committed to it.  Ezekiel Elliott is quite a sight to behold, but the real story would be if he wasn't, given his spot in the draft and his contract.  He will be very good, but they are being careful with his hamstring.
Overall, as they head to preseason game 1 in eight days time, they are showing that they have many young contributors that are worth getting fired up about.  And, given the situation on the roster that they have joined, chances are they will get plenty of chance to show whether they are NFL quality or not.   The names above are some of those that have jumped out at me early.  

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