Voluntary OTAs and mandatory mini camp are a wrap and now we know a little more than we did before about the wide receiver position. In May, I identified the wide receiver position as a key one to keep an eye on in preseason. HERE. So far it hasn’t disappointed as we know more now but the 3rd WR position remains as wide open as ever.
The Cowboys usually keep five WRs on the roster but have been known to keep six. Whether they keep 6 or not hasn’t been determined and it would depend on a variety of factors including the situation at other positions in preseason. Let’s just assume here that they will keep 5 like they normally do.
Which five are the most likely to make the roster as things look currently?
Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are a given:
These two are a given as both have impressed in the mini camp and come in with the most experience. Dez appears to be taking conditioning and his opportunity more seriously now which could prove to be bad news for opposing teams.
Only an injury knocks one of these guys out of the top 5.
Ogletree in the third spot:
Ogletree comes back this year with the 3rd WR spot his to lose. So far Ogletree has not been spectacular by any means, but I think he is holding on to the spot…for now. Guess you could say he hasn’t secured it but he hasn’t blown it yet either.
2 spots left with several possibilities. Let’s try to eliminate a couple.
Radway: Radway was very impressive last year in preseason prior to suffering an injury but this year he just hasn’t been very impressive so far. He will need to step it up in training camp to be a factor next year. As it stands now, I think he is looking at practice squad at best.
Danny Coale: The rookie slot WR from Va. Tech unfortunately broke his foot in the first OTA and while he is expected back in training camp, it is difficult to imagine him being 100%. The Cowboys like this guy and will want to give him a good look so that’s why I think he will start the season on practice squad where he can rehab and perhaps contribute later on in the season.
An injury to a WR could put Coale into action later on but for now I can’t see him in the top 5 because of the foot injury.
Dwayne Harris special teams ability puts him in at number 4:
- There are two reasons why I believe Harris is currently in the top 5.
1) He is a talented and experienced punt and kick returner which Dallas especially needs with the injury to Coale. Coale was expected to compete as a punt returner but with his broken foot, that is not happening for now. That makes Harris more valuable at this point. Harris was a successful kick returner last season and showed promise as a WR.
2) Dwayne Harris appears in better shape and perhaps a little lighter this year. He is now a more dynamic threat at receiver. Cowboys analyst Broaddus has raved about how Harris looked in mini camp. ” Dwayne Harris looks like a different player with his conditioning and the way he has made plays”, Broaddus said.
1 spot left with two major prospects:
- Coal Beasley and Andre Holmes on the bubble.
An argument could be made for both of these guys.
Coal Beasley came out of no where as an undrafted WR out of SMU. His play at the slot WR has been impressive in mini camp. His experience in college at the slot WR makes him appealing because that is where they could use the most help. Beasley has a very legit opportunity to make the top 5. He has made the most of his opportunities so far.
Andre Holmes is a WR with excellent size and athletic ability but little experience. He was on the practice squad last year and he seems to be a favorite of GM Jerry Jones. Who pretty much indicated that Holmes could replace the highly productive but departed Robinson. At this point no one really knows what Holmes will do in an actual game. His play in mini camp was not spectacular. Holmes will get an excellent opportunity to make the top 5 but he needs to step it up.
PICK ONE: It will be interesting to watch Beasley and Holmes battle it out in preseason games coming up in August. If I had to guess, I would say that Holmes is slightly more likely to earn a top 5 spot than Beasley because Holmes would be less likely to clear waivers if not protected. Beasley will be more likely viewed as a practice squad development guy in the end perhaps.
When training camp resumes, competition at the WR position will be one of the most interesting to watch take place. How these guys contribute in preseason games could be the deciding factor along with how quickly Danny Coale can heal.
Related: WR rookies similar to 2008