When Laurent Robinson walked out the door at Valley Ranch this spring, the focus became finding someone to replace him. Was that person on the roster, or were the Cowboys going to have to look elsewhere to fill the spot?
I have to be real honest and say that I didn't know much about Andre Holmes when he came out in the draft last year or when the Cowboys actually signed him after the preseason. I didn't have the advantage of watching him play in a full training camp and preseason games like I did with Raymond Radway. So, I wanted to go back and check out some college games for Holmes back at Hillsdale, and this is what I found.
Holmes did a nice job of adjusting his body along the sideline to keep his feet in bounds and catch the ball. He played with technique to free himself in routes, using an arm-over move to buy himself some space. He was a willing blocker, not a killer, but more of a get-in-the-way type. His team brought him in motion to crack on the edge.
Holmes did play some on the slot. He used his hands to snatch the ball, and did a good job of getting up field once he had the ball in his hands. He has outstanding timed speed and you see it when he ran crossing routes. He can really cover some ground when on the move and will get vertical.
He will catch the ball with men on his back in traffic, and was willing to take his route inside, catch the ball and take a hit from the defender. He will lay out for the ball down the field. He knows how to push off to buy himself some separation, and showed the ability to adjust to the low ball.
He was a raw route-runner in college - there was not much smoothness or purpose in this area. But he was clearly better than anyone who tried to cover him, so he wasn't taxed like he would be in the NFL. I thought he needed to be more physical and use his size. He didn't punish anyone in the running game, and I noticed a play in the Saginaw Valley game where he caught the ball on the one-yard line, on the move, and got stopped right at that spot instead of trying to fight his way into the end zone.
Now, Holmes is over a year removed from the games that I was able to study, so you have to feel like there would be improvements in many of the critical areas that I pointed out. His measurables are quite impressive along with his ability to catch the ball, so he has that going for him.
Can he do enough to to replace Robinson, another guy who came out of nowhere? We will soon find out.