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Cowboys looking to strike gold again with undrafted free agent class

The Dallas Cowboys have had a lot of recent success with finding good players that went undrafted. They’ll try to continue that tradition with the 2020 class.
Credit: AP
Michigan tight end Sean McKeon (84) reacts to a first down reception against Michigan State in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The 2020 draft class for the Dallas Cowboys looks like a promising haul, but we won’t know for sure that they’ve landed quality football players until the games begin. Dallas made sure to hedge their bets, however, as the class includes some stud players selected throughout draft weekend but also includes an impressive list of undrafted free agents.

As the Cowboys often do, they moved quickly to scoop up additional talent after the seven rounds had come and gone. Dallas remains one of the more prosperous teams with undrafted success stories, especially in the last 10 years.

Tony Romo has been the poster boy for an undrafted gem when he signed with Dallas in 2003, but since 2010 the Cowboys have added Barry Church, Ronald Leary, Cole Beasley, Jeff Heath, Dan Bailey, La’el Collins and Blake Jarwin as their top undrafted players. 

There are all kinds of reasons a player might go undrafted beyond not qualifying as one of the top talents in the draft pool. For example, Leary’s issue was a degenerative knee condition. As for Collins, it was something much bigger and unfounded

For many others, it might be that they went to a smaller school where they weren’t as heavily scouted. Nevertheless, Dallas does great work in adding talent and finding starters among the undrafted.

After the 2020 draft, the Cowboys went about adding the best undrafted free agent class in the league.

Dallas brought in 15 undrafted players and here are five players who have a real shot at making the Cowboys when the season arrives.

Edge Ron’Dell Carter: James Madison

Carter is a nice fit for the Cowboys; he plays a position where the team still could use some help and he had great production in college. Labeled as a bit of a “tweener” because of his size at 6-3, 265 pounds, Carter didn’t get drafted, but he had 12 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in his last season at James Madison. It isn’t hard to see Carter finding a spot on Dallas’ roster, especially if he can help in special teams at first.

LB Frances Bernard: Utah

The Cowboys have a strong first-string linebacker group, but they lack some depth, which gives Bernard a great shot at making the team. Bernard was one of the leaders on Utah’s star-studded defense in 2019, finishing second on the team in tackles and second on the team in interceptions. With how today’s NFL offenses play, having a LB capable of excelling in pass coverage is a major plus. 

Bernard began his college career as a RB, so it’s clear he has athleticism. He’s still evolving at the position and may continue to ascend into a good player for the Cowboys.

TE Sean McKeon: Michigan

While Blake Jarwin holds down the top tight end spot on the depth chart for the Cowboys, the rest is up for competition. All that’s standing in the way for McKeon to make the roster is beating out unproven depth options like Blake Bell and Dalton Schultz. Both are solid blocking options, something McKeon also does well, but McKeon shows more prowess as a receiver. 

McKeon had 60 career receptions at Michigan, but quarterback play was an issue during his tenure there. He could offer the best combination of blocking and receiving to push Bell or Schultz off the roster in September.

RB Rico Dowdle: South Carolina

Dallas seems set at running back, but after Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, there isn’t much set in stone. Dowdle doesn’t have elite speed, but he has enough (4.54/40) and combines it with good elusiveness and power. The issue with Dowdle has been staying healthy, which poses a problem in the NFL. However, if Dowdle can avoid injury, he’ll get a good look at winning a job over Jordan Chunn and fellow undrafted FA Darius Anderson.

WR Kendrick Rogers: Texas A&M

Wideout is another place where the Cowboys are strong at the top, but lack great depth. Rogers’ size (6’4”, 204 lbs.) is a huge strength and the offense could use a taller WR to win jump balls deep down the field, or in the red zone. 

Do you think the Cowboys will be able to find another Cliff Harris, Drew Pearson, or Bill Bates with their latest undrafted free agent class? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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