Before AAF Folded, Soto Had Impactful Start

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(Editor’s Note: Now that offseason practices are in full swing, let’s get to know 30 Cowboys players who are new to the current 90-man roster. Today we begin the series with defensive end Shakir Soto.)

How He Got Here: One of the few players on the roster who has a few games under his belt in 2019, Soto comes to the Cowboys via the AAF (Alliance of American Football), which folded before the first season was complete. But Soto was impressive enough in his time for the San Diego Fleet to get on the Cowboys’ radar. He joined the team in time to get a full offseason of work with the Cowboys. Last year, Soto went undrafted after a successful collegiate career at Pitt. He spent the 2018 camp with Denver but most of the season on the Raiders’ practice squad.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Soto was making a strong case to be the AAF’s best defensive player. Before the league ended, Soto had four sacks and five tackles for losses with six more QB hits for the Fleet - a team that initially signed Jon Kitna to be the offensive coordinator before he left in January to join the Cowboys’ staff as QB coach. 

Quotable: “I just have to play my game. I know we’ve got some really good players (on the D-line) but I just pick their brain when I can and try to learn from them. And when it’s my time to shine, just go out there and make plays. That’s really all I can do.” - Shakir Soto (on trying to work his way up a talented defensive line depth chart)

Bryan Broaddus’ Take: Has lined up in a couple of different spots during the OTAs and minicamps. Has shown the flexibility to play as the nose and under tackle. Best trait is his ability to play on the move. Active in the way he attacks the gap. Might not have the best upper body power and strength but is going to give you everything he has. Doesn’t quit on the play. Tends to get in trouble when he gets tall in his rush. Needs to make sure he plays with his knees bent so blockers don’t have a chance to get their hands on him. Has trouble escaping when this happens to him. When he gets locked up on a blocker it’s generally the end of him. Has to keep moving.

Role/Roster Chances: Like many other young linemen, Soto will have his work cut out for him in trying to make the team. The Cowboys drafted three players on the line in the draft to an already crowded group. But if he keeps a high motor, figures out a role on special teams and shines in the second half of the preseason games, there could be a spot waiting for him at the end.

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