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6 Breakout Candidates for Dallas in 2014

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At BR, I proposed six players on the Dallas Cowboys who I believe have a high probability of breaking out in 2014. You can see the full list through the link, but here are three of those players.

DE/DT Tyrone Crawford

The Cowboys had high hopes for defensive end Tyrone Crawford before he went down for the year during the 2013 preseason. Here are three reasons I love Crawford in 2014, whether he plays outside at end or kicks in to defensive tackle:

  • Arm Length
  • College Production
  • NFL Efficiency

Arm length is the best predictor of pass-rushing success. With 33.75-inch arms, Crawford falls into elite territory. He has the arm length and bulk to excel both inside and out.

Although Crawford wasn’t completely dominant at Boise State in regards to sacks (13.5 in two seasons), he had 27 tackles-for-loss.

And in 2012, Crawford was graded by Pro Football Focus as a top 10 defender in Dallas, despite playing only 303 snaps. That was Crawford’s rookie year, and he made a tackle on 6.6 percent of his snaps. In comparison, defensive end DeMarcus Ware checked in with a 6.2 percent tackle rate last year.

 

S Matt Johnson

We can’t use safety Matt Johnson’s history of on-field production as a sign of future success because there is none. His inability to stay on the field is obviously a major concern, and Johnson has gotten hurt so often that we can pretty much conclude he’s actually injury-prone (as opposed to experiencing a string of bad luck). That’s not a term I throw around loosely.

Still, the Cowboys are going to keep Johnson around because he’s cheap and has upside. Johnson is due only $495,000 in base salary in 2014, according to Over the Cap. This will probably be his last shot, but Johnson has the skill set to start in the NFL.

Here’s a comparison of Johnson to another safety in the NFL:

Johnson: 6-1, 215 pounds, 4.52 40-yard dash, 10-1 broad jump, 4.07 short shuttle, 6.84 three-cone drill, 38-inch vertical, 18 reps

Player X: 6-0, 214 pounds, 4.63 40-yard dash, 10-1 broad jump, 4.06 short shuttle, 6.78 three-cone drill, 38-inch vertical, 15 reps

‘Player X’ is 2013 first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro. That’s not to say that Johnson is the exact same player, but a 24-year old safety with Johnson’s combination of size and speed should get a few chances.


LB Bruce Carter

Linebacker Bruce Carter’s breakout was supposed to come in 2013. After an impressive 2012 season, though, Carter struggled some last season; after recording a tackle on 11.2 percent of his 2012 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Carter’s tackle rate dropped to 10.6 percent in 2012.

However, Carter’s year wasn’t as poor as everyone made it out to be. He had a couple poor performances in coverage in the early portion of the year, but he really picked it up down the stretch. Carter allowed 7.32 yards per attempt in 2012, and that number actually dropped to 6.67 YPA in 2013. He actually yielded over half of all the passing yards he gave up in the first four games of the year, ultimately allowing fewer than 20 yards per game over the final 12 contests.

Look for Carter, a highly athletic player whose struggles were overblown, to realize some of his upside in 2014.

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