There is no mistaking who will be the receiving stars for the Dallas Cowboys this year as they are loaded with talent. The veteran Amari Cooper is one of the league's top route runners and a reliable target for quarterback Dak Prescott. Second-year receiver CeeDee Lamb is already being viewed as the league's next big breakout player. And then there is the forgotten one, Michael Gallup, who is playing on the last year of his rookie deal. This group is primed for a big season.
But what about the rest of the team's receivers? Who else is making the squad? Veterans like Cedrick Wilson Jr. and Noah Brown are talked about a lot because they've already earned roster spots in the past. They both have receiving stats on their resume, albeit not a whole lot due to them dealing with injuries throughout their career. The team also drafted Simi Fehoko in the fifth round of this year's draft, so his chances of making the team seem rather secure as well.
While having a little security is nice, none of the receivers outside the big three are guaranteed a place on this team, and at least one of them could be in jeopardy of losing it should some surprise player manage to sneak in and steal a roster spot. As for who that player could be, it's anyone's guess. Most fans favor a shiny new undrafted free agent toy because of some type of appealing trait. Maybe they like speed. Maybe they want that huge catch radius. While a specifically skilled player may be a more exciting candidate, the Cowboys value versatility. And oddly enough, that's exactly what they have in Malik Turner.
Like many of his fellow teammates fighting for one of those final WR roster spots, Turner was an undrafted free agent. He played two years for the Seattle Seahawks where he caught 17 passes for 245 yards, and one touchdown. That may not seem like very much, and it's not, but it's still enough to put him ahead of all his roster competition outside of the big three.
As small as it is, Turner's experience counts for something. Even more though, is the fact that he's already spent a year with the Cowboys as the team's WR #6 when he was claimed off of waivers last season after their previous special teams WR Ventell Bryant was placed on injured reserve. Turner was active for six games last year, logging all of his playing time on special teams.
Turner's contribution on special teams will no doubt be a nice plus for him. He's very competitive and shows tremendous effort. He tracks down the field very quickly, knowing how to sift through traffic toward the ball carrier. And as a blocker, his body control provides an effective obstacle for would-be tacklers despite not having any type of threatening size. In short, he's just a pesky special teams player.
But Turner could end up being more than just a special teams guy. He's got a legit shot to work himself into the wide receiver rotation. He's a versatile player with an understanding of how to play all the receiver roles. He doesn't posses any great route-running footwork, but he's crafty in how he moves down the field. He'll lull his defenders one way, and then slip off the other way. He's also very good at sitting down in open spaces and creating nice throwing windows for his quarterback. And we all know Prescott loves seeing that. It might explain why we're starting to see more and more targets going to Turner in camp. Check out Malik in action...
It's tough to say how the Cowboys wide receiver position group will shape out come final roster cuts as there are a lot of interesting options available. But for now, keep your eye on 17 as he could be exactly what the team is looking for, and don't be surprised if he ends up stealing one of those final roster spots from Cedrick Wilson or Noah Brown.
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