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Role Call: Can Big Kat Crack The Final Roster?


(Editor's Note: As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with rookie defensive end Markaviest Bryant.)

How He Got Here: The Cowboys signed Bryant in May as a rookie free agent after the draft. Bryant (6-4, 254) had a productive college career in two spots: first a four-year stay at Auburn, where he was a captain and second-team All-SEC selection in 2020, then at Central Florida, where he transferred for his extra season of eligibility as a graduate senior. Bryant made first-team All-AAC with the Knights after posting six sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 2021. Clearly, it was a smooth transition to a new program with UCF head coach Gus Malzahn, who also made the move from Auburn.

What's Next: Defensive line arguably has the most competition of any position on the Cowboys' roster. At edge rusher specifically, the club will replace free agent departure Randy Gregory with a talented group of young and veteran players alongside veteran leader DeMarcus Lawrence: free agent signing Dante Fowler Jr., Dorance Armstrong, Tarell Basham, 2021 third-round draft pick Chauncey Golston and 2022 second-round pick Sam Williams. It looks like an uphill climb for Bryant, but he played well in the nation's best conference and has a skill set that can translate to the NFL, even if it doesn't lead to a roster spot right away.

Bet You Didn't Know: Bryant shares a nickname with his new position coach, Cowboys assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett. From 1991-2000, Lett – known as "Big Cat" – made two Pro Bowls as a starter on the Cowboys' dominant, underrated defensive line that was a key factor in the club's three Super Bowl titles that decade. Cowboys legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright also had the nickname "Big Cat."

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