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Cowboys need to find a slot receiver to help bolster emerging pass attack

The Cowboys had a breakout performance from the passing game in 2019, but they may need to look for a wide receiver to continue their successful air attack
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a reception against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

The Dallas Cowboys had one of the best offenses in the NFL last season. They finished first in total offense and second in passing offense while being led by quarterback Dak Prescott having an MVP-caliber season for much of the year.

Prescott wasn’t alone in those achievements, however. A hearty percentage of the praise deserves to go to one of the best wide receiver groups in the league. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb totaled 3,124 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns over the course of the 2019 season. 

With Cooper and Gallup back in the fold, the team’s top two options are returning but the offense is now missing its slot guru. Cobb left for greener (money) pastures to play with the Houston Texans and the Cowboys now need a strong third WR to help keep the offense going full steam ahead. 

The front office now must find another receiver, preferably one who can perform out of the slot, to take over the Cobb/Cole Beasley role. In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more options on the outside just in case Cooper continues to be an availability question mark on some weeks. 

Currently, there is no one on the Cowboys’ roster who is capable of offering what Beasley and Cobb brought to the table. After Cooper and Gallup, the list of wide outs with NFL experience includes Cedric Wilson, who has five career catches, Devin Smith, who was originally a second-round pick but became an after-thought last year, and Ventell Bryant, who has one career catch and was just arrested for DUI. 

Noah Brown could be an option but he hasn’t been healthy or productive since the Cowboys selected him in the final round in the 2017 draft out of Ohio State. The list of options isn’t exactly sterling for the Cowboys. When Cobb left for the Texans, he left a hole in the offense. 

The Cowboys showed interest in WR Emmanuel Sanders, but deemed the price too rich for them and watched him sign with the New Orleans Saints.

Finding a Cobb-replacement might prove difficult as most of the market has dried up, especially at slot receiver. However, one name does remain. Taylor Gabriel is still available to sign. The pint-sized WR played for the Chicago Bears in 2019 and caught 29 balls for 353 yards and four scores in just nine games. Gabriel would be a great fit in Dallas and shouldn’t cost them too much. 

Of course, the name that’s always out there is former Cowboy Dez Bryant. There’s been no indication the team will reunite with Bryant and he wouldn’t be a slot option anyway. At best, Dez could come in and be an outside threat in the red zone but his reunion in Dallas wouldn’t solve the need for a security blanket target up the middle for Prescott.

The other options arrive via the draft. The 2020 draft class is one of the deepest in years at wide receiver and the Cowboys should take advantage by grabbing one who could step into the role vacated by Cobb. 

A stud wideout could make it to the Cowboys with their first-round selection at 17th overall, but would that be the wisest move when they have two 1,000 yard receivers and Ezekiel Elliott already on the roster? 

There’s only one ball and a lot of mouths to feed on an already dynamic offense. When considering the holes Dallas has on defense, perhaps their first-round choice should be spent on that side of the ball. Sure, the Cowboys have a need for a third wideout threat, but they also have priorities they might want to take care of before looking at receivers.

If the team waits, selecting a receiver in the second or third-round could also be an option. The draft is still a little ways off, so the Cowboys have time to address their third WR situation. But if they don’t find someone between now and then, expect Dallas to use a high pick on a receiver who can keep the ball moving for one of the league’s top air attacks.

Do you think the Cowboys should invest in more targets for Dak Prescott to keep their passing game among the elite? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.  

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