You can’t draw a lot of solid conclusions from the OTAs and the Dallas Cowboys minicamp. These are only controlled, prudent practices, more focused on installation and coaching. However, a few clues emerge. It’s worth paying attention to anything that has continued to pop up in the course of things.
Winner: Micah Parsons
Well, you’d expect the first-round pick to shine. Even though this was someone a lot of fans weren’t exactly thrilled with when their name was mentioned. He was all over the field playing games and getting a choice or two. It’s just not praise for his mobility and anticipation, but the fact that he’s been used in pretty much every linebacker position, and even linked to DeMarcus Lawrence during his rushed pass. The two will be working to make Parsons even better during the pre-training camp break. He also received a ton of praise from the coaches. While we had to be careful not to read too much, he sometimes had reps ahead of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. It’s tempting to see this as an indication of how much Parsons will be used upfront.
It might not be as far-fetched as it usually is when a rookie has work ahead of the veterans. Teams like to give established starters extra protection during the offseason. The thing to keep in mind is that Smith and Vander Esch had some real struggles last year. Even if they revert to a system that is touted as being more similar to what they had before 2020, the math of doing tower work rather than making sure vets were up to date is intriguing.
Parsons has clearly stood out throughout the offseason, and it’s not just a win for him. It’s a big victory for the team.
Winner: Brent Urbain
Full Disclosure: Of all the free agent signatures, Urban is the one I liked the most. His specialty in stopping the race was so needed after last season’s pitiful performance.
So it was gratifying to see him frequently mentioned as having a lot of work and looking good while doing it. For linemen, it’s really hard to see much without contact, but even so, Urban stood out. Most importantly, maximizing efficiency was noted as a priority for staff.
For veterans, that means expanding defensive end Randy Gregory’s role beyond just passing specialist and maximizing the ability of free agent acquisition Brent Urban to stay square in the trenches and defend the race. . – Jori epstein
His role is somewhat thankless with few stats to brag about. But he made it clear in his first media interview that he was not only comfortable, but savoring it.
When the Cowboys drafted Osi Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna, there was a chance they would make Urban’s contributions to the team less needed. The evidence is pretty clear that he’s not lost in the reshuffle.
Loser: Kelvin Joseph
While the first round was up to its draft position, the team’s second round selection was not. He reportedly showed up in poor shape for the rookie minicamp, then went into quarantine for COVID. As the snapshot says, the most important capacity is uptime. Joseph missed most of the practice. He’s still almost guaranteed a place on the list, but his position on the depths board is now an open question. A good training camp is now of vital importance to him and the team. Hopefully he has learned something and shows up ready to go and hungry to prove himself.
Winner: Nahshon Wright
When his name was first announced, there were many twists on his eyebrows by raising them quickly. The initial reaction was, let’s say, less than enthusiastic on the part of most. Almost every draftnik left him much later in the draft.
However, Joseph’s unavailability became an opportunity for Wright, and he seized it with enthusiasm. Each day of media access to workouts seemed like a highlight for him. Cornerback is an area in dire need of an infusion of talent, and Wright has done a good job showing that project analysts may have been wrong about it. Of course, we’ve yet to see how he fares in the face of actual NFL competition, but the start of his career in Dallas couldn’t have been better.
Biggest winner: Dan Quinn
Quinn has a serious challenge facing a defense that was so poorly ranked last season. Things started out well for him. Before OTAs, he was aided by a massive infusion of new blood through free agency and the project. His influence was clear when the team acquired some of his former players who will likely already be on the same page with him. Defensive conscripts showed signs that his preferences were being honored when groceries were purchased.
The next major benefit for him was the return of an offseason schedule. Quinn was hired for the job after Mike Nolan took much of the blame for what happened last year, but Nolan was crippled from the start by the COVID shutdown. Looking at reports over the season of friction between him and his players, it’s not certain that things would have been much better with a full offseason. Still, if he had had that early setup time and a chance to have better communication to explain his system, that might have been a different story, and we could have been talking about his sophomore year.
That wasn’t how it happened, and now Quinn is the man. Time and time again, players have had nothing but rave reviews. Part of it is just that he’s not the guy they didn’t get along with, but his very involved teaching and coaching methods were clearly on display.
As intangible, membership is difficult to assess and quantify. Nonetheless, it is important, especially when major changes are being installed. Quinn has this. The training of the offseason has a lot to do with it. Given how crucial he is to the Cowboys’ success going forward, this could be the biggest win for him, the players, and the organization.