Running the Numbers: Cowboys’ Top 5 Training Camp Battles
It seems like the offseason flew by this year, and training camp is right around the corner. Of course it is fun to watch players like DeMarcus Ware and Tony Romo, but more interesting to me is checking out the players battling for starting positions. At DallasCowboys.com, I took a look at the ‘Boys’ top five position battles in 2012:
In my list of the Cowboys’ most underrated players, Butler checked in at the top. Butler has pressured the passer on 7.0 percent of pass-rush snaps over his career – a rate higher than that of Anthony Spencer and not too far behind Ware.
There are obviously concerns about Butler’s overall game because he has never received more than 233 snaps in a season. On top of that, the ’Boys went out and drafted outside linebacker Kyle Wilber a few months ago.
Wilber is perhaps a more well-rounded player than Butler, but with 13.5 career sacks at Wake Forest, does he have the pass rush ability to challenge for a starting spot one day? In comparison, Butler racked up 12 sacks in his senior season alone at Oregon State. I have a feeling Butler is going to turn some heads in a few weeks, but this will be a fun one to watch.
ILB: Bruce Carter versus Dan Connor
The Brandon Carr signing was obviously the biggest of the offseason for Dallas, but bringing Connor into Big D was a huge move as well. The ’Boys finally possess some depth at inside linebacker.
A few weeks before the Cowboys signed Connor, I did some research on available inside linebacker prospects and made a plea for the team to bring him in. Of the 50 linebackers who played at least one-quarter of their teams snaps in 2011, Connor was second in tackle rate.
Only 14 linebackers made a tackle on more than 10 percent of the snaps they played. Connor checked in at 11.7 percent. In comparison, Sean Lee made a tackle on 9.3 percent of his snaps, Bradie James brought down the ball-carrier on 8.5 percent of snaps, and Keith Brooking came in at 8.3 percent.
With Connor likely patrolling the field on early downs, Carter may have a shot at winning nickel snaps. The Cowboys seem to like his prowess in coverage. Still, Carter is a huge unknown at this point. The team did the right thing by bringing in a proven commodity in Connor, but Carter has the potential to really “wow” during camp and perhaps even cut into some of those early-down snaps.
Advantage: Connor on first and second down, Carter on third down.
Head to the team site to read the rest.