In Part One of our look at the top camp battles, we took a look at several competitions that will keep us glued to our twitter accounts come end of July. Not to be overlooked, we have four more battles that will be key in determining whether or not Dallas has a deep roster or a team full of Jags. Here's the next group of combatants.
The Cowboys are set on the outside with Tyron Smith, and hope to have another year of the rejuvenated Doug Free. In last year's camp, we thought Free was going to be challenged by Parnell, whom Dallas has been nurturing since stealing off the Saints practice squad. That never materialized and in the meantime, Weems has fast tracked himself to be in that position of challenger to Parnell for the No. 3 spot. The two players have similar attributes: quick feet, long and athletic and better in pass protection than against the run. Parnell's been around the block a few more times, but that experience also comes with a heftier price tag.
X-Factor: Could extremely solid guard depth make rookie Zack Martin an option as backup tackle? It was his position throughout college.
Prediction: I think the player's performance will be similar, which makes Weems the choice for the salary savings. Expect Dallas to go this route for backups moving forward, as three first round picks on the line will be getting expensive rather quickly.
From the outside looking in, there should be absolutely no reason for any optimism in this group. Six seasons total between them, and not a one has been able to put forward a 100 yard game on offense. I'm not talking about only rush yards either; that includes receiving totals. Yet, there is plenty of hope and optimism in this group and it might be well-placed. Dunbar ‘s skillset is that of the perfect jitterburg and he's now in an offense that loves to utilize a multi-dimensional back. His speed and elusiveness make him unique on the roster, a true space Cowboy. Williams ran out of favor with the coaching staff in Arizona, and didn't play at all in 2013; however, he has a better pedigree than Cowboys starter DeMarco Murray. When healthy, Williams is a combination of what Murray and Dunbar bring to the table. Not as good as either in their strongest suits, but better speed and vision than Murray and more oomph than Dunbar. Randle was drafted ahead of players such as Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy and has yet to prove he has any discernable skills to put himself over the top in this competition. Can he put it together during camp?
X-Factor: Health. Health. Health. Oh, and ball security.
Prediction: Dunbar wins the backup role, but don't be surprised to see Williams getting enough snaps so the team can consider him as an option should Murray want too much money in the offseason.
Prior to the draft, the Cowboys signed the six-year veteran because they literally had no one capable of playing the open-side DE position. Mincey has the prototypical size for the position, but has never had more than 8 sacks in a season as he toiled away in Jacksonville. Lawrence of course, was worth a 2nd and a 3rd round draft pick to the Cowboys out of Boise State and the brass has told us relentlessly it was because he was the last of the potentially elite RDE's available. Lawrence obviously has the pedigree edge and the investment edge over Mincey , will he have the playing field edge as well?
X-Factor: Anthony Spencer. It's doubtful he's healthy enough to go at camp, or at the beginning of the season for that matter. Never say never, though.
Prediction: This competition might be window dressing. Word is leaking out that DeMarcus Lawrence more than held his own against Tyron Smith during OTAs. Now, while that can only mean so much being that it isn't full contact, it is promising. Expect a rotation (with all DL positions) but I expect Lawrence to win the job.
I already detailed most of what you need to know about this battle when I looked at the battle for Fourth Fiddle earlier this offseason. Cole Beasley is a slot specialist who doesn't drop passes and makes a ton of crucial third-down plays. The team is trying to see if he can function on the outside. Street is a long rookie with a huge catch radius and great hands that possesses deep ball ability.
X-Factor: Aliens. It would take an out of world performance by one of the UDFAs or Dwayne Harris for the third wideout to not be Street or Beasley.
Prediction: Toughest call of the 10 to predict; but I think Beasley wins out.
These aren't the only battles that will be going on in camp. One can't forget that the the incumbent fullback Tyson Clutts will be squaring off against behemoth rookie from LSU J.C. Copeland. Then, they both will be facing the possibility that Dallas might not carry a fullback. Where does George Selvie fit amongst the defensive end rotation? Does he give the team enough to make them move Tyrone Crawford inside frequently? And what about the demons from a season where Bruce Carter battled his enthusiasm and instincts to play linebacker? Can he bounce back?
One thing is for sure, as the temperature heats up, so will the competition. We can't wait until Oxnard. ... and among the best parts is ... CowboysHQ will be there, every day, on the sideline, every practice ... and then on the road to San Diego and Miami and London and beyond! Join us!