(Editor's Note: Training camp is an important time of year for the NFL's undrafted free agents, as unknown players will fight to earn roster spots all over the league. The Cowboys have an especially rich history with undrafted free agents, given the success of once-unknown players like Tony Romo, Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Jeff Heath and Dan Bailey. This series will seek to preview this year's batch of undrafted rookies, as well as the challenge that awaits them at training camp. We'll continue the series with safety Rolan Milligan.)
Name: Rolan Milligan
College Career: Milligan originally enrolled at Alabama-Birmingham after a stint in junior college. During his one season at UAB, he tallied 54 tackles with four tackles for loss and two sacks. Once UAB shut its program down, he transferred to Toledo for his final season. During his one year with the Rockets, he made 48 tackles, four tackles for loss and had two interceptions – one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Spring Synopsis: The Cowboys sure appear to be taken with their MAC safeties. A few hours before they signed Milligan as an undrafted free agent, they spent a sixth-round pick on Central Michigan safety Kavon Frazier. Don't forget that one of their current starting safeties, Barry Church, was a fellow undrafted – also out of Toledo. Church was one of several veterans to take on a limited role during OTAs because of injury concerns, but the depth chart was still awfully crowded in front of Milligan. Byron Jones, J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath were all available to get reps, and the draft pick Frazier saw work with the second and third-team defense. Hopefully for Milligan the uptick in reps at training camp will give him added opportunity to stand out.
How He Makes It: Simply put, Milligan is probably going to have to outshine Frazier as well as a veteran to earn a roster spot. The coaching staff is obviously intrigued by Frazier, hence their willingness to draft him. But it's not as though a sixth-round pick is any kind of guarantee to make the roster. On top of that, J.J. Wilcox is in the final year of his deal and could be released at no great cost. That said, Wilcox has experience and has proven himself adept at a variety of special teams spots. Milligan will have to prove he can play both defense and special teams in order to make his case.
How He Doesn't: It looks like tough sledding at the safety spot, to be quite frank. Three of the roster spots look like guarantees. Byron Jones is a first-round pick and isn't going anywhere, while Jeff Heath just signed a three-year extension to function as both a reserve safety and core special teamer. Barry Church is in the final year of his deal, but he's both a three-year starter and a defensive captain. That likely leaves one, maybe two safety spots between the likes of Wilcox, Frazier and Milligan. Anything is possible, but Milligan should have a lot of opportunities in the preseason – and he can't afford to miss any of them if he expects to make the 53.