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Battle Royal: Behind Top 3, Cowboys' WR Jobs Are Up For Grabs

(Editor's Note: With the draft now behind us, the Cowboys seemingly have a full roster for the offseason and training camp. There will likely be changes here and there, but this group will mostly be intact when the real competition begins. So over the next two weeks, the writers of will break down some of the pressing position battles to keep an eye on. Today, we continue with the wide receiver group.)

What's the Issue:

With Dez Bryant rejoining the lineup after offseason surgery, it's hard to find much of a problem at the top of the Cowboys' wide receiver depth chart. Bryant hopes to return to the form that saw him named an All-Pro in 2014, as he figures to be fully healthy and once again working with Tony Romo.

Behind him, the duo of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley figure to maintain their established roles. Williams has shown inconsistency during his three years in the league, but he has also displayed a penchant for making big-time plays – particularly with Bryant in the lineup to take the focus off him. It gets lost in the disappointment of last season, but Beasley actually enjoyed a career year in 2015 and should resume his role as the Cowboys' mismatch slot receiver.

It's the back end of the depth chart that provides intrigue. The Cowboys have several talented young receivers, but none of them have shown much in the way of proven ability – not to mention consistency. The three veterans that stand out are Devin Street, Brice Butler and Lucky Whitehead. But there are other names – such as Vince Mayle, Rodney Smith and Chris Brown -- that will enter training camp with an opportunity.

If everything goes according to plan, the Cowboys know who their starters will be. Filling out the depth chart at wide receiver may prove a bit more challenging.

Don't Forget About:

Rob Phillips:Jason Garrett says no matter how a player gets to Valley Ranch – drafted or undrafted – there's opportunity. The wide receiver position could be his best example. Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead made this team as rookie free agents. Miles Austin went from undrafted to a $50 million contract during his eight seasons in Dallas. This year, there's a chance an undrafted rookie grabs one of these backup receiver spots. Andy Jones got the largest signing bonus of the team's rookie free agents ($15,000). Chris Brown was productive at Notre Dame. So was Ed Eagan at much smaller Northwestern State. Keep an eye on those three. History says one could make a real push for a job in training camp.

Nick Eatman: Let's not forget what Lucky Whitehead was able to bring to the table as a return specialist last year. He made a game-changing return in Washington that led to a game-winning field goal. He had a similar runback against the Eagles that led to a score. That ability can help him earn a roster spot, and get him active on game days. That being said, it helps get him on the field as one of the backup receivers. His speed and quickness helped the Cowboys on sweeps and reverses but he needs to prove he can get up the field as a receiver. Still, I think he'll be in the mix because of his return ability first and foremost.

David Helman: I doubt he's going to take Terrance Williams' job as the Cowboys' No. 2 receiver, but I'm really interested to see what's in store for Brice Butler during his second season in Dallas. The Cowboys liked him enough to give up a fifth-round pick for him, but injuries limited most of his 2015 season. Despite that, he showed he's got big-play ability, averaging 21.5 yards per reception over the course of the year. He had an opportunity to show out when Dez Bryant was shut down for the year, and he responded with eight receptions for 134 total yards in the final two games. If he can maintain that momentum, he could see his role improve in 2016.


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