Battle Royal: Staff Writers Analyze Options For Open Fullback Position

*(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 DallasCowboys.com will break down some of the pressing position battles to keep an eye on. Today, we continue with the fullback position.) *

What's the Issue:

It appears the Cowboys will have a different fullback on the roster this year – one way or another. They have yet to re-sign veteran Tyler Clutts, who remains a free agent on the market. That nearly occurred last season as well, but the Cowboys decided to bring him back after two veteran additions didn't pan out. So far, this offseason has seen the team attempt to move players from other positions to the fullback spot.

Running back Rod Smith, who is the older brother of second-round draft pick Jaylon Smith, has now moved to fullback, although at 6-3, he won't have the traditional look of the position. He'll also probably handle the ball more than previous fullbacks in this system, considering his hands and ball-skills.

Former linebacker Keith Smith has also moved over from the defensive side, and will try his hand at a position he hasn't played since high school.

Smith is hoping to become the third Cowboys fullback to move from linebacker since 1998, when the team first moved Robert Thomas to the offensive side. Thomas played five seasons for the team, serving as Emmitt Smith's lead blocker. The Cowboys also made a similar switch with Oliver Hoyte, who played two seasons at fullback after playing linebacker in college.

Don't Forget About:

David Helman: The very nature of the fullback position is that it requires a lot of work and gets basically no attention. But I'm incredibly interested in the potential that a guy like Rod Smith could bring to the table. This is a running back that the Cowboys liked enough to steal off Seattle's practice squad last year, so there's clearly some confidence in his ability. That doesn't mean his ability will translate to fullback, but he certainly should have an excellent understanding of the job he's doing. Given that he played running back for five years at Ohio State and one year in the NFL, he's also bound to have better running and receiving skills than your typical fullback. Smith stands at 6-3, 226 pounds, and he's comfortable with the ball in his hands. Neither of those traits are common to see from a fullback, and that makes him awfully intriguing in my opinion.[embeddedad0]

Nick Eatman: The Cowboys have carried a fullback on the roster the last several years, but that doesn't mean he's often utilized. The re-signing of tight end James Hanna might be as crucial to this position as anyone who is actually listed as a fullback. Hanna is on the field quite a bit, especially now as the possible No. 2 tight end with Gavin Escobar injured. When it comes to lead blocking for the running plays, Hanna won't be the primary fullback, but he'll likely motion into the backfield, serving as the H-back or fullback on many plays, regardless if it's run or pass.  

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