When the Dallas Cowboys lost Dwayne Harris in free agency to the rival Giants, they lost more than just a return-specialist. Harris was also a key presence on the special-team's coverage unit, as well as a reliable blocker in the run game. So, this leads to the question, how will the Cowboys replace Harris - a player who does it all?
Well, I believe his replacement might already be on the roster in the UDFA receiver out of Florida Atlantic University, Lucky Whitehead. First off, let's see how Harris and Whitehead compare physically and athletically..
Weight: 208 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.55 seconds
Bench Press: 10 reps
Vertical Jump: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 110 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.77 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds
Weight: 179 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds
Bench Press: 20 reps
Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.18 seconds
Whitehead is an inch shorter than Harris and about 30 pounds lighter. However, Whitehead is very strong for his size, recording 10 more bench press reps than Harris in Scouting Combine stuff. He also performed better than Harris in every area other than the 3-cone drill. Now let's compare their college stats.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 23.3 yards per kick return in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 24 yards per kickoff return.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 9.4 yards per punt return in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 15.6 yards per punt return.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 11.2 yards per reception. Lucky Whitehead averaged 10.5 yards per reception.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 9.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Another thing that Harris did for the Cowboys was provide key blocks in the run game and cover kicks/punts. While those aren't areas that Whitehead has much experience in, he feels like he could still get the job done.
"I haven't done much of kickoff coverage," Whitehead told CowboysHQ. "I'm not the biggest guy but I've got heart."
The thing that sticks out most about Whitehead is his ability as a returner. The Cowboys have certainly taken notice as well. In the team's annual conference call for season-ticket holders, Stephen Jones mentioned Whitehead when asked about who could be the return-specialist in 2015. This is what Jones said about him: "Lucky Whitehead is a smaller receiver but he can fly. He runs in the 4.3 range, he's got return-ability. He's an exciting guy to watch when you plug in his highlight tape and look at him."
Now, there are other people here competing for the same spot. Antwan Goodley, George Farmer, Deontay Greenberry and Nick Harwell are among the possibly worthy. Stephen, on 105.3 The Fan this week, noted that there are no locks here.
“I think you got to look at receiver,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t say we’re concerned, I’m just saying that you’re looking for some guys to show up and do something. You lose a player like Dwayne Harris and you don’t replace him in free agency, and you don’t ultimately take a receiver in the draft, we haven’t necessarily designated a guy, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be the roster spot for Dwayne Harris.’
“So it will be very competitive for that fifth spot. If he’s on our team, that’s great. If it ends up being that we continue to look for a guy, then that’s an option as well. Player acquisition, as I always say, is a 365-day a year business and we’ll keep looking for ways to improve our football team.”
The Cowboys aren't the only ones who think that Whitehead is exciting to watch. Lucky himself -- who drew praise from special-teams boss Rich Bisaccia on Saturday for his punt-fielding work -- says the same thing.
"I'm hard-working,'' he says. "I'm very tough. I like to compete. I'm a very exciting player to watch. If I get the opportunities, there will be great things happening in the return game this season."
If Whitehead is right, he could make the absence of Dwayne Harris sting a little bit less in 2015.
Meanwhile, CHQ is inside the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility as well, on the practice field for this Video Visit:
VIDEO TAGS:Josh Brent, La'el Collins, Tony Romo, ,
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