FRISCO, Texas – Coming off of last year, this spring has to have been invaluable for Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy and his staff. The opportunity to have install sessions, individual drills and competitive periods during OTAs and minicamp was imperative for this team. I took notes on nine players that could play a key role in 2021.
- My first impressions of Osa Odighizua are speed and athleticism in the interior line. Those traits could give him the versatility to be used at multiple positions. During team drills Odighizuwa got off the ball well. He did a good job with play recognition by snuffing out the run. He is a high intensity, high motor player so he's always pursuing the ball.
- Francis Bernard is locked in during special team drills. In kickoff, punt bloc and return teams Bernard is always 100% effort. At linebacker, Bernard did a good job in 7-on-7 and team drills reacting to backs out of the backfield and covering his zone. For the 2020 undrafted free agent, the more he can do, the better his chances of making the team.
- Garrett Gilbert is in the driver seat for the backup quarterback position. Gilbert shows good instincts in the pocket and his passes have velocity and placement. He hit Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb in stride multiple times in 7-on-7. Team drills seem to be where Gilbert creates separation by showing command and grasp of the offense. In the two-minute drill, Gilbert marched the offense down the field and capped the drive off with a touchdown pass to Noah Brown.
- Neville Gallimore is in good shape. Conditioning is going to be important for the 2020 third-round pick if he has plans to stay on the field. Gallimore is explosive at the point of attack. I saw notable improvement with his hands, feet placement and technique. Gallimore showed above average balance in half line drills and does a good job of anchoring himself.
- Dorance Armstrong does a great job of being under control while decreasing space. He did a good job against Terence Steele in team drills transitioning his moves. Armstrong has good bend and hips to complement his athleticism. During team session he stunt twisted with rookie Chauncy Golston and was unblocked for what would have been a sack.
- Speaking of Golston, he has lined up at the three-technique and the five-technique, and he doesn't compromise technique switching from either position. Golston is a natural edge, but his size and strength permit defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to kick him inside. Golston is quick off the ball and uses his long arms to control guards and tackles by shooting his hands into their chest.
- Jayron Kearse and Israel Mukuamu look more like NBA guards than NFL safeties. When the two 6'4 safeties are on the field together it's a sight. Kearse has good change of direction for his size and covers ground well. He does a good job in man coverage with tight ends, as he showed against Jeremy Sprinkle on an interception of Cooper Rush.
- Mukuamu is a player that I've highlighted on my roster. He can move! The former college cornerback operates as a field general in single-high safety looks. His footwork is the catalyst for him being in position to make plays. He competes for passes and uses good angles to close. His cornerback resume is what helps him track and flip in the open field. The sixth-rounder shouldn't be a long shot to make the roster.
- Tony Pollard in 7-on-7, or box tackle drills displays sudden quickness. With the Cowboys low on receivers during minicamp, Pollard stepped up to take extra reps. The third-year running back came into the NFL with a reputation at receiver. Pollard is an asset as a pass catcher out of the backfield and an obvious mismatch against linebackers. When lined up in the slot Pollard is a technician with a good release and burst.