This morning, Pat Kirwin of NFL.com put out a list of the 5 deepest teams in the NFL. The Cowboys came in at #4. I was alerted to this by my boy Tyler, and I think we both had the same reaction, which went something like this:
But OK, I have an open mind, so I figured I’d at least hear Kirwan out, as he listed 10 essential pieces to building good depth:
I figured I’d take them one by one and apply them to the Cowboys:
1. A backup quarterback who can go at least 2-2 if he had to take over for a month straight.
Jimmy says: Yes. Orton is a Top 5 NFL backup.
2. A second running back who could be a 1,000 yard back if he had to take over or at least generate 75 yards of offense a week as a runner and receiver.
Jimmy says: In four seasons in the league, Felix Jones’ high in rushing yards is 800. He has 3126 yards from scrimmage in his career in 48 games, or 65 yards per game. He’s also not very durable. By Kirwan’s definition, the answer is no. Jones is a bigger name than he is a player, but he’s still better than most backup RBs. So I’ll ignore Kirwan’s rules on this one and give him a debatable Yes.
3. A third wide receiver who could go in for a starter down and generate 4-6 receptions a game as an X or a Z.
Jimmy says: God no. Right now, the Cowboys’ 3 is Kevin Ogletree. Beyond Ogletree, the Cowboys don’t have a single player with a catch in the NFL.
4. A second tight end who could be a legitimate threat as a blocker or receiver.
Jimmy says: No. John Phillips looked like an up and comer when he tore his ACL in the 2010 preseason, but showed absolutely nothing last season.
5. Two experienced backup offensive linemen. A swing tackle for either side and an inside player for the guards/center. Experience required because they will not get many reps in practice until injuries occur.
Jimmy says: Gawd no. The only offensive lineman the Cowboys have that has taken more than 300 career snaps is Pat McQuistan, and he was unemployed (for good reason) until a couple weeks ago. The other two guys with any experience at all, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski, were both bad when they got chances last year. There isn’t one player on this team that I would feel comfortable putting into the game at OL at any time.
6. A third defensive tackle already in a rotation that could play a whole game well if a starter went down.
Jimmy says: Well, I think Kirwan is talking about a 4-3 alignment here, but we’ll talk about the Cowboys 3-4 front. Ourlads has Kenyon Coleman starting in front of Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore. I really like Lissemore as depth, and the Cowboys hope that 3rd round pick Crawford is a player that can contribute. So while Ive been bashing the Cowboys’ DEs for some time now, I don’t think they lose much if any of them go down. Whether that’s because the starters aren’t really adequate starters or the depth is “good” is up for debate. I’ll call this one a push.
7. A pass rush specialist that could play some run down situations if a starter went down.
Jimmy says: No. I like Victor Butler as a pass rusher, but only as a situational pass rusher. He’s not a run defender. To be determined what Kyle Wilbur is.
8. A fourth corner back that could bump up to the nickel corner if that player had to replace an injured starter.
Jimmy says: Yes. The Cowboys are deep at CB.
9. A third safety that can start or provide a defense with an opportunity to play some ‘Big Nickel’ when needed.
Jimmy says: Nope.
10. Four core special team players that could help on offense or defense in a pinch. That is a total of 14 players not listed as starters that become the most important people on a roster when injuries take starters off the field. Which teams look the most ready to answer the challenge of roster depth?
Jimmy says: Too tough to tell. We’re talking about rookies like Kyle Wilbur and Caleb McSurdy here, and nobody has any idea is they can play in the NFL just yet. Push.
So by the tale of the tape, I got 3 for yes, 2 for push, and 5 no’s. Without looking, I don’t think I’d have the Cowboys in the Top 15 in terms of depth.