Buying or Selling Cowboys’ Top Offseason Performances Ahead Of Training Camp

Buying or Selling Cowboys’ Top Offseason Performances Ahead Of Training Camp


Buying or Selling Cowboys’ Top Offseason Performances Ahead Of Training Camp

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    Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert

    Cowboys WR Jalen TolbertAP Photo/Gregory Bull

    With Dallas Cowboys training camp set to open for veterans and rookies alike on Tuesday, excitement for the 2023 season is building.

    Fans know the big names. Stars like Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons, CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs should have Dallas firmly in the playoff race this year. However, these aren’t the only players who have been building momentum and generating offseason buzz.

    The Cowboys have seen some standout performances during minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) that should have fans even more eager to watch meaningful football games.

    Of course, every spring and early summer performance must be taken with a grain of salt. The lack of padded practices and intense competition can often make temporary stars out of players who might not even make the regular-season roster.

    Below, we’ll examine three of the top performers from the Cowboys early offseason, dive into their realistic training-camp expectations and determine whether the buzz they’ve generated is truly worth the hype.

WR Brandin Cooks: Buy

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    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3) runs off the field during NFL football practice at the team's training facility in Frisco, Texas, Thursday, May. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

    AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

    Wide receiver Brandin Cooks, acquired from the Houston Texans in a trade, is one of the new faces on the Cowboys roster, and he could be ready to make an immediate impact.

    “The best play from the media availability portions of the offseason program was Prescott’s deep ball to Cooks,” Jon Machote of The Athletic wrote. “…While it’s difficult to get a lot out of walk-through type practices, it’s very evident that Cooks’ speed is still a great weapon that the Cowboys will be adding to their offense.”

    Cooks’ impact hasn’t simply been felt on the practice field either. He’s also taken on a mentor role and aided young receivers like second-year player Jalen Tolbert, according to Kyle Youmans of the team’s official website.

    This shouldn’t be passed off as spring hype. While Cooks had a down year with the Texans in 2023, he’s consistently been a 1,000-yard receiver and a very capable deep threat. The 29-year-old also has a track record of immediately lifting an offense.

    Originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints, Cooks has now been traded four times. Following the last three trades, he had a 1,000-yard campaign in Year 1 with his newest team.

    That trend may not continue in 2023, as Cooks will compete for targets with Lamb and Michael Gallup, but his presence will continue to be felt from training camp all the way through the postseason.

LB Jabril Cox: Sell

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Jabril Cox #14 of the Dallas Cowboys defends against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    The Cowboys haven’t seen much from linebacker Jabril Cox, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of LSU. Cox appeared in seven games as a rookie before suffering a torn ACL, and his recovery carried over into the 2022 season.

    With Parsons expected to become more of a full-time pass-rusher in 2023, Cox could have an opportunity on defense, and the early buzz has been positive.

    “Cox looks very fluid and decisive in his movements and reads/reactions. His cuts are crisp, his focus is locked in and he’s covering well both horizontally and vertically,” Patrik Walker of the team’s official website wrote.

    I don’t doubt that Cox is moving better with more time between him and the injury. It’s also hard to dismiss the idea that he’s been impressive during early workouts. However, Cox simply doesn’t appear poised to leap into a prominent role.

    According to Machota, Parsons was still being moved all around the defense during the offeason program. That suggests that he could still see plenty of time at linebacker in 2023.

    Dallas is also likely to work in rookie third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown behind Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark in training camp, meaning Cox will be competing just for a spot in the rotation.

    And Cox doesn’t bring much experience to the proverbial table, having played just 45 defensive snaps in two years, according to Pro Football Reference. If Cox has an impact in 2023, it’ll likely come on special teams.

WR Jalen Tolbert: Buy

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Jalen Tolbert #18 of the Dallas Cowboys gets set against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 26, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    As previously noted, Cooks has excelled as a mentor, and Tolbert might be the biggest beneficiary.

    “Jalen Tolbert has
    had an incredible camp,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, per Youmans. “And if you talk to
    Jalen, what he’ll tell you is that he’s spent a ton of time with

    This echoes some of the offseason reporting from Walker.

    “Tolbert is already making some waves in the war for WR4,” Walker
    wrote in June. “…Tolbert has already
    made several plays in two-minute drills and, from what I’ve seen, he’s
    playing more freely and isn’t thinking as much.”

    I can buy that Tolbert’s offseason progress is legitimate. While the South Alabama product didn’t see the field much as a rookie, making the college-to-NFL transition can be extremely difficult for a small-school receiver. With a year under his belt, and the guidance of veterans like Cook, the 24-year-old should finally be ready to contribute.

    Will Tolbert have a significant role in Year 2? Barring an injury, probably not a massive one. However, if Dallas utilizes a lot more four-receiver sets in Mike McCarthy’s West Coast-based offense, he’ll have opportunities to contribute.

    And Tolbert, who amassed 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns in his final collegiate season, has the tools needed to make the most of his chances.

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