Dallas Cowboys Redshirts: Potential Impact of Second-Year Players
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In our eyes, the Cowboys have two rookie classes coming in this season: the 2010 class, and the 2009 class which was decimated by injuries. In effect, the Cowboys obtain the best of both worlds from the second year players.
A good chunk of them (Michael Hamlin, Robert Brewster, Jason Williams, Stephen Hodge, Brandon Williams) played either zero or very fews snaps last season, meaning they have the same upside and “unknown” quality about them as the true rookies. These redshirt players, however, were able to go through an entire season of mental reps. They know what it takes to play at the NFL level, at least in terms of the cerebral aspect of the game.
In this article, we will detail the potential impact of most of the Cowboys’ second-year players–in 2010 and beyond.
Williams is an athletic freak. He ran a 4.4 forty-yard dash at his Pro Day. Had Williams had all of 2009 to learn, that kind of speed could have really helped Dallas.
Instead, Williams will compete with rookie Sean Lee this year for nickel linebacker duties behind starters Bradie James and Keith Brooking. We are in the minority in believing Williams will win the job.
Eventually, the Cowboys hope Williams and Lee can step in as starting inside linebackers, although that day is at least a couple years away.
Final Forecast: Williams will compete for nickel duties this year and a starting job as soon as 2011.
Robert Brewster, OT
Brewster never really got started in 2009, tearing his pectoral muscle before the season began. At this point, he is as much of an unknown to Dallas as any of the rookies.
With the addition of free agent offensive tackle Alex Barron, Brewster will likely receive the majority of his reps at right tackle. We believe right tackle is a far better fit for his skill set than left tackle anyway.
It will be interesting to see what happens if starting right tackle Marc Colombo gets injured again in 2010. Most likely, the team will groom Barron as a swing tackle, giving Brewster little opportunity to see the field.
Nonetheless, we will learn a lot about the Ball State product during training camp.
Final Forecast: Brewster probably won’t get much playing time this year, but he will likely move up the depth chart in 2011.
Victor Butler, OLB
Butler had a decent rookie year in 2009. He showed great initial burst when rushing the passer, racking up a .038 sack-per-rush number that was better than both Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer (albeit on just 125 snaps).
He received an overall grade of a “C,” though, because his run defense was rather poor. He will have to bulk up and improve significantly versus the run to be considered a viable backup at the outside linebacker position.
This year, Butler will compete with fellow “redshirt freshman” Brandon Williams to be third on the depth chart.
Final Forecast: We expect Butler to be the primary pass-rushing backup at outside linebacker. As long as Ware and Spencer are in town (which will be for awhile, we presume) and healthy, Butler will not get a chance to be more than a specialist.
Brandon Williams, OLB
Williams, like Brewster, is a total mystery at this point. The Cowboys are excited about his potential, but it is only that right now–potential.
Like we said above, Williams will compete with Butler for the third spot at outside linebacker. The Cowboys surely don’t want Ware and Spencer playing 1093 and 1112 snaps, respectively, every season, so the winner of the Butler/Williams battle could see a decent amount of action this season.
Final Forecast: We actually predict that Williams will receive more snaps than Butler in 2010. Williams will likely be more stout against the run, and the Cowboys will be far more likely to spell Ware and Spencer on non-passing downs. Expect Williams to see around 150 snaps this season. Like Butler, however, his upside in Dallas is limited due to the presence of the two monsters outside.
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