It is that time of year for Dallas Cowboys fans. We have a fresh crop of new players, which means it is time to pick out your pet cat!
For those that may be unfamiliar with the whole idea, it all started back in the tenure of Bill Parcells, when he used the term to describe a player that someone on the staff just fell in love with for sketchy reasons, and then fought to have them drafted. Since then, it has come to describe any player who the team signs that has to fight to make the roster, which means UDFAs and late-round (usually sixth- or seventh-round) draft picks. For several years, we at BTB have observed the tradition of naming our own pet cats and seeing how they turn out. Last year, three of the pet cats we selected after the 2017 draft class and UDFAs were added wound up making the 53 man roster – Cooper Rush, Noah Brown, and Xavier Woods. And Lewis Neal wound up on the practice squad. Of course, five others did not survive the final cut-down.
Now, many may be a bit puzzled to see my name as the author of this article, because of the Legend of the Goatmouth. For those who are even more puzzled by that reference, there was a time I was not allowed to pick pet cats, after I seemed to curse Danny Coale by picking him as my pet cat in 2012. Almost immediately thereafter, he was injured and never really recovered (My deepest apologies, Danny). But after wandering a few years in the wilderness, I was brought back into the fold. And to prove that the curse has been broken, Rush was my pick a year ago. So there.
Anyway, on to this BTB’s favorite felines for 2018! (With the explanations why.)
Dave Halprin: Bo Scarbrough
Why did I pick Bo Scarbrough as my pet cat? I didn’t, sometimes your pet cat chooses you. Who can resist a big, punishing back that can strike fear in a defense? He is in a great situation because he needs some time to get going on his runs and he’s not going to avoid traffic with shifty moves, so running behind the Cowboys line is a perfect fit. The front five in Dallas should give him opportunities at open lanes where he can let his sledgehammer running style work to the team’s advantage. Of course he’ll be behind Ezekiel Elliott, but imagine a specialty role for Scarbrough consisting of short-yardage/goal line, plus he can help close out games when Dallas has a lead and the opposing defense is getting tired. If Scarbrough can become adept in that role, he may be able to save Zeke from taking too many hits this early in his career and extend his prime years. That’s a win for Dallas and for Zeke. I’ve already bought a truckload of Meow Mix to feed my pet cat, he’s a big kitty and he should stick around in Dallas.
Michael Sisemore: Charvarius Ward
This long, man-coverage ace had only five years of football experience but worked his way from JUCO to D1 in that time. At 21, he’s still honing his skills but when you check him out, he may be one of the most underrated prospects of the 2018 class.
Ward’s patterned his game after other Middle Tennessee alum, Kevin Byard, who led the NFL is interceptions in 2017. Snubbed at the Combine, Ward showed out at his pro day running a 4.42 40, hitting 37 inches on his vert, and 11 feet on the broad jump. He led his team with 14 pass breakups last season. Ward has spent the majority of his pre-draft process working with smaller, shiftier receivers to add slot abilities to his growing resume. He has the length and fluidity to play outside. He has the speed and agility to cover inside and has mastered special teams. It’s a shame he wasn’t drafted. Cowboys stole one here for Kris Richard.
Ryan Ratty: DeQuinton Osborne
Many Dallas fans were expecting the Cowboys to draft a defensive tackle at some point in the draft. Many thought Vita Vea could have been the guy in the first round. There were other options like Tim Settle, Derrick Nnadi, and Poona Ford, all of whom made sense for the Cowboys. However, Dallas finished the draft without drafting a defensive tackle.
Yes, they traded for a player they were high on two years ago in Jihad Ward, but the Cowboys are still missing a presence from the 1-technique defensive tackle position. Osborne is a player that could be intriguing. At 5-foot-11 and just a few ticks over 300 pounds, it is clear what role Osborne will play in the NFL. He will not sack the quarterback, but he will do the dirty work of taking on double teams and clearing way for his teammates to make plays in the backfield. A JUCO transfer, Osborne was extremely productive at Oklahoma State. In the position the Cowboys will ask him to play, he could succeed and become a nice player upfront.
Jed: DeQuinton Osborne
As one of the many crossing fingers and toes for Vita Vea to fall to us in the draft, I watched the next six rounds unfurl expectantly waiting for a 1-tech to be selected. Obviously, the scouting department couldn’t hear me banging the table in vain. No worries. DeQuinton Osborne from Oklahoma State was signed. A transfer from Kilgore Junior College, DQ was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention DLOY. At both the Combine and his Pro Day he measured 5’11.5 and 300 pounds, so he has the heft and low center-of-gravity to clog the middle. However, he also has that 3-tech ability that Marinelli covets in the position (his Twitter handle is “3TechFinesse” after all). In his last season at OSU Osborne had 44 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and two quarterback hurries. By sheer numbers and injuries, Osborne will have plenty of opportunity to show what he’s capable of doing. If he shows the same motor and ability he did in college we might just have found another UDFA steal. And if anybody knows pet cats, well… it’s ol’ Jed.
Cole Patterson: Kameron Kelly
My pet cat is Kameron Kelly for a few different reasons. For one, he’s a versatile defensive back that can play either corner or safety. His 6-foot-2, 204-pound frame and 31 ¾ arms gives him the size necessary to battle both wide receivers and tight ends. Secondly, Kelly showcased his ball skills during his days at San Diego State, picking off nine passes over his career, deflecting 15, and he was always around the football. Kelly’s 110 career tackles, eight TFLs, and two sacks are also impressive. The Wylie native can play all over the defensive backfield, can be utilized in blitz packages, and can make an impact on the team in some capacity if given the opportunity.
Danny Phantom: Tyree Robinson
The Cowboys have a new defensive backs coach in Kris Richard and it will be interesting to see if he can duplicate the success he had with Seattle. While Dallas didn’t draft any new defensive backs this year, they did sign a handful of them as undrafted free agents. Oregon free safety Tyree Robinson is one of them.
Robinson is 6’2” so he fits right into Richard’s profile of long, rangy defenders. With no Earl Thomas trade taking place and Byron Jones moving to corner, the free safety position is nowhere close to being solidified. Sure, people are optimistic about Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath is still loved for his effort, but don’t be surprised if one of these undrafted kids lands a job on this team. Robinson has great athleticism and if you go youtube his highlights, you’ll see him with pick-6’s left and right. If I was Stephen Jones, I’d venture to say he had a dozen, maybe two dozen pick-6’s in his college career at Oregon.
R.J. Ochoa: Cedrick Wilson
The Cowboys have undergone a massive change at the wide receiver spot. Cedrick Wilson is a great pet cat in his own right in terms of his skillset, but he’s also the pet cat that’s got arguably the easiest path to making the team. Ced’s got an ability to work in the middle of the field that’s going to make Dak Prescott look great, and that makes the Dallas Cowboys look great. Purr purr, Ced.
Tom Ryle: Kyle Quiero
One thing you look for on an NFL roster, especially with the “fringe” players, are guys that will do exactly what you ask them to. And the poster boy this year for the Cowboys is Kyle Quiero, who was a safety at Northwestern, but is now listed as a linebacker for Dallas. At only 6-2 and 215 pounds, he is by far the smallest in the LB room. But as a possible hybrid type linebacker, he may have a real chance to make the team and help cover tight ends.
Realistically, though, his best shot is going to be as a special teams contributor – and he may just be excellent there. He was not very athletic or fast during his career at Northwestern, but he had a solid reputation for being in the right place at the right time. And he made a bunch of tackles in college (132 over his career). However, a true pet cat is one who you don’t really have to have a deep argument for. To me, Quiero just looks like a great team player, and I am really pulling for him to find some way to hang around in Dallas.