Most to Prove:
Henry Melton, Defensive Tackle
Ask Rod Marinelli what the most important position to play in this 4-3 scheme and he will tell you three technique. When Marinelli was last a defensive coordinator in Chicago, he had one of the best three techniques in the league in Henry Melton. If you go back and study Melton's work after Marinelli moved on to Dallas, he wasn't the same player then he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the majority of the 2013 season. Melton has been cleared and is ready to try and regain that Pro Bowl form in which he displayed in Chicago. What I really like about this situation with Melton and the Cowboys is that the player is betting on himself to once again to play at a high level with the way that the contract is structured. The better he plays, the more he gets paid. Henry Melton can be a disruptive player when he is on and for a defense that needs those types, it is a bet this front office is more than willing to take.
Morris Claiborne, Cornerback
This will be the first training camp of his career where he is actually healthy when it starts. Claiborne has yet to live up to the standards we all expect from a player that was taken with the 6th overall selection. What I have noticed about Claiborne through these practices in the spring that he appears to have a chip on his shoulder in the way he is going about his business. He is not viewing himself as a player that is running with the second defense. When it's time to step up in drills, he walks right out there on the field with Scandrick and Carr. There is clearly a different way that he is carrying himself and now we need to see if that confidence shows up in the way he plays.
Gavin Escobar, Tight End
The numbers are not overwhelming but that should not be the sole way to evaluate this player. Other than Cole Beasley, I don't believe there is an offensive player that was more productive in the chances he received. With Escobar you are not going to get a dominate point of attack player but what you will get is potentially a dominant down the field type. When I was able to observe practices this spring, you could tell by the way that Scott Linehan was using him with Jason Witten, then in other packages where [embedded_ad] Witten was off the field and with three receivers, that Linehan was confident in his ability to attack the defense. I remember scouting Escobar when he came out of college and the one trait I always noticed was the stiffness in which he tended to play with. Today, he is playing and moving with more flow to his game which made it difficult for defenders to deal with. These coaches will continue to put a great deal on his plate but my feeling is that he should be able to handle it.
Lance Dunbar, Running Back
Scouts are always trying to project what the future might be for certain players. Some are easy while others are more difficult. Lance Dunbar is a player that scouts have tried to project for the last three seasons but what makes it difficult that just when you have an idea of what he might become, there is a setback with an injury. If you line up all the current running backs on this roster with the exception of Ben Malena, there is not one that has the explosive quickness of Dunbar. When the ball is in his hands, there is that jump or juice that scouts talk about. You can really see it, even feel it when you study the tape. He is an offensive linemen's dream in the way that he hits the hole or gets the ball to the outside. There is no doubt that Scott Linehan has done his homework on Dunbar for the different ways that he has used him in the backfield and as a receiver out of the backfield, so there is a plan. What Dunbar has to prove is that he can stay healthy throughout the entire season and allow this plan to take shape otherwise those scouts projections will take them back looking for someone that can handle that.