NFC East: Ryan Williams

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:


The Kyle Orton watch is over now that the Cowboys released the veteran backup. The timing of it is a surprise, and Jason Garrett spoke optimistically all offseason about Orton’s return. Now the Cowboys turn their attention to Weeden as Romo’s backup. Weeden had a productive spring, running the first-team offense as Romo recovered from back surgery. The Cowboys haven’t kept a third quarterback since 2011, and Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan will have work to do to crack the 53-man roster


The last two spots could be up in the air. Randle, a fifth-round choice, will be pushed by free-agent pickup Ryan Williams in the preseason. Williams, a former second-round pick, was not able to stay healthy in Arizona. The Cowboys have given him a chance to win a backup job. Clutts did a nice job as a late-season pickup in 2013. He is more versatile than undrafted rookie J.C. Copeland, but I don’t think having a fullback on the 53-man roster is set in stone.


I debated whether to go with a sixth, but later on you will see why I stuck with five. It is possible the Cowboys will look for a veteran in the final cuts if they feel limited by their depth because of injury, but I think they like the overall group. They will work their No. 3 receiver role on a rotation basis, but Beasley could emerge as a bigger threat on third down. There will be a lot of eyes on Williams, who takes over the No. 2 role on a full-time basis. Bryant is set for another Pro Bowl-type season.


Witten remains near the top of the game at his position. His total catches were down last year, but his touchdowns were up. Escobar’s role figures to expand, especially as a No. 3-type receiver. Hanna has the inside track on the third spot, but I have a feeling the Cowboys will be looking for more of a traditional blocker, especially if they want to get away from the fullback spot to open up a role elsewhere.


The top six are set, with Bernadeau or Leary fighting it out for the left guard position and the loser becoming the top backup on the interior. Parnell is in the final year of his deal, and if Weems develops, I wonder if the Cowboys would look for a trading partner. They have invested a lot in Parnell in time and money for him to be a backup, so it would be a risk, but perhaps one worth taking. Weems had a decent offseason. Clarke gets the nod as the No. 9 guy right now, but veteran Uche Nwaneri could work his way into the mix.


I think the Cowboys will go heavy here, especially considering what happened last year and the numbers they have thrown at the position this year. Four of them are rookies -- Lawrence, Gardner, Bishop and Coleman. I believe Anthony Spencer and possibly Amobi Okoye will start the year on the physically unable to perform list, so they don’t make this 53-man roster with the idea that they join the team after the sixth game of the season. Wilson garnered the last spot over a 2013 starter, Nick Hayden, but there will be a few players in the mix for the final few spots, including Ben Bass.


Carrying seven linebackers might be a little heavy, but I have special teams in mind when it comes to Will Smith. He benefits from having only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Cowboys spent the offseason telling us games are won and lost up front, so carrying an extra offensive or defensive linemen could get in this mix as well. McClain gets a spot only because of his experience. Backups of Holloman, Hitchens and Smith would be tough considering their youth, and I can see the Cowboys looking for veteran backup help around the final cut dates.


Carr and Claiborne have to play exceptionally well for this defense to have a chance, and they might have to do it without much help from a consistent pass rush. Scandrick is coming off his best season, and Claiborne will have to beat him out to reclaim the starting spot. Moore can play inside and out. Mitchell showed in his limited offseason work that he can make plays. Last year’s fourth-round pick, B.W. Webb, will have to fight for a spot. Based on his offseason work, he did not make the cut for this roster.


Church is the only player without questions. The Cowboys are projecting the other four with their biggest bet on Wilcox. He enters camp as the starter, but he could be pushed by Heath and Hamilton. Dixon will be more of a special-teams threat if he is to make the roster. Hamilton showed some playmaking in the offseason. No Matt Johnson? Not right now, especially after he couldn’t practice -- again -- for most of the offseason.


Perhaps Cody Mandell can push Jones, but Jones is the more consistent punter and has a good rapport as a holder for Bailey. Ladouceur remains one of the best long-snappers in the game. This group won’t change during the summer unless there is an injury.
IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • When Dez Bryant might sign an extension.
  • Lance Dunbar’s roster spot with the addition of Ryan Williams.
  • The team’s best free-agent pickup
  • The state of the defensive line.
  • The best of the undrafted receivers.

Look for Part 2 of the mailbag on Saturday.

Away we go:
IRVING, Texas -- With a rookie minicamp out of the way and the organized team activities starting next week, it's time for the award-winning Five Wonders.

Away we go:
  1. Free
    When the Cowboys picked Zack Martin in the first round, the assumption was that he would (or could) move to right tackle in 2015 with Doug Free in the final year of his contract. I wonder if the Cowboys look to extend Free's contract this offseason. Free is set to make $3.5 million in 2014 as part of a re-worked deal he signed last year. The final two years of his contract void after this season, which means he will count $3.98 million against the cap if he's not a Cowboy in 2015. That's not a reason to keep him. He rebounded with a decent 2013 season and he just turned 30. The Cowboys need to be sensible with a new deal and we've spent the offseason talking about not paying age, which was part of the reason why they said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware and never really tried to keep Jason Hatcher. But tackles tend to play longer. Flozell Adams played his best after he turned 30. This isn't to predict Pro Bowl success for Free; just an example. As for Martin, it was interesting to hear Jerry Jones reference multiple times the importance of being stout in the middle of the line. Keeping Martin at guard might make sense.


    Who's the Cowboys' best draft pick in the Jerry Jones era?


    Discuss (Total votes: 14,799)

  2. By signing Ryan Williams to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money this week, the Cowboys have opened up the competition behind DeMarco Murray. I wonder if they can keep four tailbacks. They did the last couple of years because Phillip Tanner was able to play on most of the special teams' units. Williams' injury history would seem to keep him away from special teams. Lance Dunbar covered some kicks and punts last year, but he had a difficult time staying healthy. Joseph Randle will have to work to be a special teamer. If the Cowboys don't keep a fourth tailback it would allow them to go heavier at tight end or offensive line or even carry a third quarterback, depending on what Kyle Orton decides to do this year. It would also open up a potential spot on the practice squad for a tailback as well.

  3. The Cowboys have made adding defensive linemen to the mix an offseason priority. They want to throw numbers at the position. The Cowboys want to mix the snaps around to keep players fresh. I wonder if Henry Melton or Anthony Spencer can come even close to cashing in on their playing time incentives. Both players have to get healthy first, but Melton is further along in his rehab from a torn anterior cruciate ligament than Spencer is in his return from microfracture surgery. Melton and Spencer can earn up to $1.5 million apiece depending on certain play-time percentages. Melton can earn $250,000 for 50 percent play time and up to $750,000 if he reaches 70 percent. He has never played more than 60 percent in a season. Spencer' play-time incentive levels are 65 percent ($250,000), 75 percent ($500,000) and 85 percent ($750,000). If he starts the year on the physically unable to perform list, then he would be lucky to hit on the lowest threshold.

  4. I wonder if Jason Garrett's decision to scale back one day of the rookie minicamp because of the number of players who were hurt or were slowed by dehydration is a sign that he will be more compromising in his practice schedule throughout the year. The Cowboys have studied how other teams go about their practices and have dealt with injuries, but the general conclusion is they are doing the right things. Too many players suffered hamstring injuries the last few years. The Cowboys installed ballet bars outside the locker room to help with stretching pre- and post-practice, but I've maintained Garrett needs to cut back on his practice time. You don't want to leave your best work at Valley Ranch during the season. The Cowboys are one of the teams that use GPS devices on players to measure how much they practice, distances traveled and other pieces of information. If the numbers indicate a player has reached a threshold, then they need to rest that guy so as to not risk it. He can call it an adjustment to the new collective bargaining agreement that has shortened the offseason conditioning program. Who knows, it might just work. And it beats the alternative.

  5. On the list of position battles, punter will rank low on the list, but I wonder if undrafted Cody Mandell can push Chris Jones this summer. Mandell averaged 47.1 yards per punt last season at Alabama with a 42.1-yard net average. He had 14 punts of more than 50 yards and 15 ended up inside the 20. He had six touchbacks. Jones will go to camp as the leader without question. He averaged 45 yards per punt and had a 39-yard net average. He had 30 punts inside the 20 and just six touchbacks. He also developed into a reliable holder for Dan Bailey, which cannot be overlooked. And another aspect gives Jones an edge: he's left-footed.
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys are in the process of signing running back Ryan Williams after he worked out for team officials on Saturday afternoon.

To make room for Williams, the Cowboys have to release a player.

Toward the end of the Saturday afternoon practice for rookies, Williams met with team owner Jerry Jones at midfield.

Williams, the 38th overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, was cut by the Arizona Cardinals this week. He played in just five games over three seasons due to injuries.

He missed the 2011 season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee. In 2012, he played in five games before a shoulder injury ended his season.

Then last season, he didn’t participate because he was rehabbing.

But outside of stumbling while catching a pass, Williams looked good during his workout in front of Cowboys officials, which included team executive vice president Stephen Jones.

Running backs coach Gary Brown conducted the nearly 30-minute workout after the morning practice for the rookies.

“I’ve worked my tail off to get to this point,” Williams said after the workout. “It was a rocky road, but I got it done. Regardless of how anybody sees my career going, it was beneficial for me not to play last year and the other year I got hurt with my shoulder. It just gives my knee more time. This isn’t an easy injury to come back from at all. It worked for me.”

Once the deal is finalized, the Cowboys will have six running backs on the 90-man roster: DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ben Malena, Glasco Martin and Williams.

The team also is trying out two running backs this weekend in Josh Harris and Jyruss Edwards.

Coach Jason Garrett said Saturday tryout players have pushed players off the 90-man roster in the past.
IRVING, Texas -- Former Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams was impressive enough in his workout Saturday morning at Valley Ranch that the Dallas Cowboys are considering signing him, two sources said.

“I’m hoping ‘great’ means I can be here,” Williams said of the feedback he got from Cowboys front office personnel and coaches after his workout. “If not, then I’ll keep moving forward, but I’m really hoping it’s here.”

The Cowboys have 90 players on their roster, so they would have to cut somebody to make room for Williams, the 38th overall pick in the 2011 draft who was released by the Cardinals this week. His tenure in Arizona was marred by injuries, limiting him to five games in three seasons.

He missed his entire rookie season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee during a preseason game, causing his knee cap to slide into his thigh. He gained 164 yards on 58 carries in 2012 before a shoulder injury ended his season. Williams did not play last season, rehabbing his knee, which he says is finally back to 100 percent.

“I’ve worked my tail off to get to this point,” Williams said. “It was a rocky road, but I got it done. Regardless of how anybody sees my career going, it was beneficial for me not to play last year and the other year I got hurt with my shoulder. It just gives my knee more time. This isn’t an easy injury to come back from at all. It worked for me.”

Williams realized he’ll be remembered as a bust in Arizona. He’s determined to realize his potential at his next NFL stop.

“Every ounce of blood in my body, man, every inch of skin,” Williams said. “I want to come in this game and leave it with a legacy. Not a legacy of being hurt – a legacy of being a guy you can talk about for years to come as far as being one of your favorite running backs.”

NFC East links: Juan Castillo's roots

April, 7, 2011
Dallas Cowboys

Florida center Mike Pouncey, who visited Valley Ranch on Wednesday, said on Twitter he expects to be drafted by the Cowboys, reports's Calvin Watkins.

Continuing its Draft Watch series, takes a close look at USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

New York Giants takes stock of the Giants' wide receiver corps and looks at potential targets for the team in the draft.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy is scheduled for private workouts with the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys within the next week, according to the National Football Post.

Philadelphia Eagles

Juan Castillo returned to Kingsville, Texas, recently as a guest speaker at Texas A&M.'s Marcus Hayes has the story of how Castillo's roots shaped the Eagles defensive coordinator.

Michael Vick said he's planning to meet with his receivers, including running backs, for workouts next week.

Washington Redskins

A Redskins spokesman said the club tried to make it up to season-ticket holders for having to renew now despite the labor uncertainty by choosing not to raise season ticket prices.

Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams is slated to visit with the Redskins soon.

Giants mock draft 4.0

April, 6, 2011
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have released their newest mock drafts and there’s one slight change. The ESPN NFL draft experts had Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey as their choice at 19 for the Giants in their previous mock drafts.

Here are their takes this week with picks for the first three rounds:

Kiper: 19. Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida

“I don't think Pouncey is quite as versatile as his brother, who was taken at No. 18 overall last year and became a Pro Bowl player in his first year with the Steelers. But Mike offers a very similar skill set. He can play guard or center, gets to the second level very well and should help the Giants in the running game. I'd slot him in at guard to start and only look for help at center in a backup role, but he's easily the top interior lineman in the draft.”

McShay: 19. Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

“The ideal scenario for the Giants is Pouncey falling to them, and trading back is also a possibility if the right player is not available. Their biggest need is for a difference maker at linebacker and (Mark) Ingram could also be in play, but with no impact linebacker available the best offensive lineman on the board would be the best option. Castonzo could play inside at guard as a rookie and then kick out to tackle, or the Giants could plug him in at tackle immediately and shuffle their existing personnel. Either way, Castonzo has the ability to be a quality starter for the next decade and the Giants would do well to start addressing the future of their offensive line.”

52. Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina
McShay: 52. Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

Kiper: 83. Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida
McShay: 83. McClain, DT, South Florida

OHM’s take: McShay has Pouncey going 15th overall to the Dolphins, who would be passing up on Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

If that were the case, the Giants would have to think about Ingram if he were available at 19 with Ahmad Bradshaw potentially becoming a free agent. Even if they re-sign Bradshaw as expected, the Giants can start thinking about the future at running back. Brandon Jacobs is under contract for two more seasons but trying to keep both Jacobs and Bradshaw could be too expensive.

Of course, if Ingram’s knee scares teams away, the Giants’ best value at 19 may be offensive line. There are plenty of defensive linemen available and of value at 19 and I would never discount Jerry Reese from taking a defensive lineman in the first round. In McShay’s mock, he has the Giants passing on Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, a defensive end who has top-10 talent but is also a medical risk.

With free agency likely coming after the draft and uncertainty surrounding free agents and restricted free agents, the Giants have to protect themselves with offensive linemen Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Adam Koets all rebounding from surgeries. That doesn’t include Shawn Andrews, who had back issues last year.

Pouncey would give the Giants a center for the future and one who can start there or at left guard in case O’Hara and Seubert are not physically ready for the season. Pouncey, though, tweeted that he would be shocked if he weren’t a Cowboy after he visited Dallas. The Cowboys draft ninth overall and that would be a lot higher than most mock drafts have Pouncey going.

Castonzo is on the Giants' radar as offensive line coach Pat Flaherty ran Castonzo through drills at Boston College’s Pro Day.

Both Pouncey and Castonzo make sense for the Giants and fill a need. The Giants’ other greatest need is at linebacker and Kiper has the Giants drafting a linebacker in Sturdivant in the second round. McShay has the Giants going with Williams, the Virginia Tech running back who could be one of the top three backs in the draft. McShay had the Giants drafting Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure in his previous mock draft.

And in the third round, it’s interesting that both Kiper and McShay have the Giants drafting McClain, the defensive tackle who was Jason Pierre-Paul’s teammate at South Florida. McClain would certainly provide insurance in case the Giants don’t re-sign Barry Cofield, who said he will consider asking for a trade if he doesn’t receive a contract extension and has to play for a restricted free agent tender.

So what do you guys think of the latest mock drafts? Tell us below.