Sitting at 2-7 on the season, the Dallas Cowboys are oddly enough not mathematically eliminated from taking hold of the lowly NFC East, but they are caught between attempting to challenge for it and reboot to come. To the latter point, they signed former second-round pick Breeland Speaks to the team's 16-man practice squad unit coming out of their Week 10 bye, giving them both depth at the edge and a chance to see if he can provide any value before the offseason gets underway.
But with the addition of Speaks comes questions on if it'll impact incumbent youth looking to break through on game day, namely a player like rookie fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae, who's been mostly relegated to special teams duty in Year 1. Anae is a high-ceiling talent the Cowboys were thrilled to see him still available in the fifth round, having fallen due to what many teams deemed an unimpressive NFL Combine -- despite a stellar career at Utah that garnered him honors as a two-time First-Team All-Pac 12 talent, a Consensus First-Team All-American and the Morris Trophy in 2019.
In other words, talent and drive are two attributes Anae doesn't lack.
But even with the trade of Everson Griffen ahead of the Nov. 3 deadline, Anae isn't getting game reps on defense.
Instead, he was actually ruled inactive for Week 9, marking the second time in two weeks that's occurred, having also been made inactive in Week 7, and has just six total defensive snaps through nine games. So while Speaks himself also brings youth to the table at the tender age of 24 and the added intrigue of being the former second-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs just two seasons ago, it would behoove the Cowboys to truly begin utilizing a rotation that more involves those who require evaluation. They almost literally have nothing to lose at this point, and potentially much to gain -- heading into an offseason wherein they need to know what they have in the pantry before heading out to do their grocery shopping in free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
A wise move would be to decrease the snap counts on Dorance Armstrong -- the Year 3 edge rusher currently getting the nod due to what Mike McCarthy's want of experience in the role -- to make way for Anae. Given the former already has defensive NFL film under his belt but the latter mostly does not, you already have a solid idea of what Armstrong is and is not at the pro level, and it just makes sense to see if Anae can supplant Armstrong in the near future.
When factoring in Armstrong will also be in a contract year come 2021, seriously, you don't need any more variables to justify pulling this trigger over the final seven games of 2020.
The team also re-signed Minnesota Vikings, and to promote Speaks to the active roster -- something they can do twice and then move him back to the practice squad after game day, or three times if they choose to leave him active on the third promotion -- to take on rotational duties as needed on both the strong and weak side.from the practice squad and released back into free agency, putting him on the active roster and at least hinting at the possibility he'll soon take the field for his first-ever game reps as a Cowboy. It's a perfect opportunity to grant him his Dallas debut against the
Considering it's just as much an audition for him as it is for anyone, and the fact he's obviously not on a long-term deal -- but you'd like to know if he's worth bringing back next season -- the mission going forward for the Cowboys has to be -- evaluate, evaluate and then evaluate some more.and certainly a defensive unit in need of an overhaul.