(Editor's Note: With the offseason program in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead. 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 offensive tackle Josh Ball.)
How He Got Here:The consensus report on Josh Ball is that he'd have likely been a much higher draft pick had he sported a cleaner resumé.
Eventually drafted No. 138 overall out of Marshall, Ball started his college career as a promising prospect at Florida State. He eventually left the program in 2018, after he was suspended for a series of "dating violence" incidents with a then-girlfriend.
To be clear, Ball was never charged with a crime, but the woman did file a petition for an injunction for protection from him.
Ball spent a year at the junior college level before transferring to Marshall. He started one game at right tackle in 2019 before becoming an eight-game starter at left tackle in 2020. He was named first-team All-Conference USA for his efforts last year.
The issue obviously doesn't appear to be Ball's talent level, as plenty of teams viewed him as a possible Top 100 pick if not for the past transgressions. To that end, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said after the draft that the front office felt confident in him after the research they did into the matter.
"We went in-depth," Jones said. "These are young men and not everybody is perfect and one of the biggest criteria we look at when we look at a young man is how he responds to adversity. How he moves forward? We felt comfortable with him and felt like he was going to do a great job for us going forward."
What's Next: Ball was the first offensive player selected by the Cowboys in this year's draft class, which speaks to their needs at the offensive tackle spot.
Tyron Smith and La'el Collins are both expected to be healthy and ready for training camp, but last season was a perfect demonstration in why depth is important – especially in Smith's case, given that the perennial Pro Bowler has missed at least three games in five-straight seasons.
In a best-case scenario, Ball could be headed into a competition for the swing tackle job. The Cowboys signed veteran tackle Ty Nsekhe to fill the swing tackle role during the spring, but that contract is only for one year, with a relatively small payout of $1.75 million. If Ball is clearly the better player, there's not much marrying the front office to the veteran.
Even if that doesn't come to pass, though, there's still nothing wrong with having depth. Ball could join second-year tackle Terence Steele as one of the team's younger, developmental tackles, with an eye on grabbing a larger role later on in his career.
Bet You Didn't Know: In 61 separate drafts since the franchise's inception, Ball is the first Marshall prospect ever drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Quotable: "I've taken the time to grow as a human being and grow as a man, and I think I've done a great job of that. I'm just ready to get down to Dallas and just be a great football player and athlete, and I've learned from my mistakes, and I've learned from the past. I've grown as a human being, and I'm ready to get down to Frisco and get ready to work." – Josh Ball