CANTON, OH - AUGUST 4: Wide receiver Chad Bumphis #16 of the Miami Dolphins fails to make the catch as outside linebacker DeVonte Holloman #57 of the Dallas Cowboys picks up an interception and runs back for a touchdown during the second quarter at Fawcett Stadium on August 4, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Monday, I broke down the performances of four offensive players in the Cowboys’ preseason victory over the Dolphins. Now, I’ll turn my attention to the defense.
J.J. Wilcox looks hesitant.
I loved the pick of J.J. Wilcox because I thought it represented an opportunity to exploit a draft inefficiency; NFL teams prefer big-school players, which they generally should, but they overvalue them in such a way that elite small-school prospects tend to drop too far. Wilcox is admittedly raw, but he also has NFL athleticism and major upside.
We knew Wilcox would have a steep learning curve since he was a running back and wide receiver up until 2012. However, he looked really timid on Sunday night in much the same way as Akwasi Owusu-Ansah during his limited time in Dallas. Wilcox is probably thinking too much on the field, and I’d expect him to pick it up once he feels comfortable with the scheme and can let his athleticism go to work.
George Selvie and Kyle Wilber are easing concerns.
If DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer get injured, the Cowboys could be in trouble. Once Tyrone Crawford went down for the season, Dallas became extremely thin at defensive end, which is a vital position in Monte Kiffin’s defense. Selvie and Wilber, both of whom looked explosive off of the ball against Miami, have at least temporarily eased some concerns in Dallas. Let’s see if they can continue to play at a high level.
DeVonte Holloman could end up starting for Dallas.
I don’t think it will be to start the season, but don’t be surprised to see Holloman eventually land in the starting lineup. He showed off his athleticism on the big pick-six, and that’s exactly what Kiffin wants in his linebackers. If Holloman can make his way onto the first-team, Dallas would probably have the best coverage linebacker trio in the NFL. The key will be his run defense.
Matt Johnson can’t stay healthy.
If I were forced to bet on the matter, I’d still say that Johnson isn’t really injury-prone. Since injuries are very random, certain players will rack up a lot of injuries just from chance alone. However, Johnson has been injured enough in his two years in the NFL that we can start to at least wonder if he’ll be able to stay healthy. It’s still likely that he’s been unlucky, but that doesn’t really matter for the Cowboys. They need him on the field; I actually think the drop from Johnson to Will Allen could be a big one.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.