(Editor's Note:Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features wide receiver Lucky Whitehead.)
Name: Lucky Whitehead
Position: Wide Receiver
Height/Weight: 5-9 / 180
Experience: 1 season
Key stat: Whitehead rushed for 107 yards on 10 carries, the most rushing yards by a rookie receiver in team history.
Contract Status: Signed through 2017.
2015 Impact:Impressive that he made the squad as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic. Unfair that fans believed that he was going to become the next Dwayne Harris. He doesn't have Harris' thickness or football savvy. His explosive quickness is superior to Harris and as his desire to compete as a returner and point of attack blocker. In my opinion, I didn't get the sense that the coaches really trusted him and that set him back. Even when he started to get more opportunities as a kickoff and punt returner after the injury to Lance Dunbar, the coaches had him split the assignments with other players. This goes back to issues that he had in training camp securing the ball with any consistency. Once he was able to prove to them that he wasn't going to have problems being reliable, than it was his job especially as a kickoff returner. I will give these offensive coaches some credit for creating packages that put the ball in his hands especially in space which allowed him to do what he does best – create those loose plays that puts pressure on the defense.
Where He Fits:Started to put things together the last month of the season which puts him in a good position for the off season. Will never be big enough size wise but plays with a huge heart. With all that being said, he will always have to worry about another college free agent coming in and taking his job. Is limited to what he can give you on the outside as a receiver so learning about playing the slot and returning kicks is always going to be his ticket to stay in the league. Needs to continue to try and develop as a blocker not only on offense but on special teams as well so he can be used in other roles as well. Courage and desire is there as is his experience to find his way back on this roster.
Rob Phillips:Whitehead and La'el Collins were the only two undrafted rookies who made the team last year. Collins worked his way into the starting lineup, but Whitehead did end up the primary returner on kickoffs (16 for a 28.3-yard average) and punts (19 for a 5.8-yard average). He also had six catches for 16 yards working out of multi-receiver sets, mostly in the slot. After Lance Dunbar's season ended in Week 4 with a torn ACL, the Cowboys tried to restore more speed on offense by utilizing Whitehead those jet sweep runs, something he was used to doing in college. He got more comfortable and reliable on returns as the season went on – his 46-yard kickoff return Dec. 7 at Washington helped set up Dan Bailey's winning field goal – and I think he has a real chance to provide a speed option for the offense in certain packages next season if he can continue developing as a receiver on the outside and in the slot.