Ex-SEC Star Named Surprise Candidate to Make Cowboys Roster: ‘Massive Steal’

Mike McCarthy

Getty Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy walks the sideline during an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys have made some big changes to the roster this offseason, but who sticks around and who gets cut is still undetermined.

With a talented roster that was able to reach the NFC Divisional Round this past season, the Cowboys’ new rookies will have an uphill battle to make the 53-man list. This is especially true for the Cowboys’ group of undrafted free agents.

One notable name in that group is former Mississippi State star Tyrus Wheat. Wheat put together an impressive college career in Starkville, Mississippi, but went undrafted and is now with Dallas. For Inside the Star’s Damon Smith, Wheat is a name to watch in terms of UDFAs making the team.

“…Acquiring a draftable player at a premium position like edge rusher could be a massive steal,” Smith writes. “Here’s the hope for Wheat: [Viliami] Fehoko and/or [Chauncey] Golston may be considered defensive tackles more so than defensive ends which could open a seat at the table for Wheat.”

As with most UDFAs, Wheat will likely need some external help to make the roster. But it certainly isn’t out of the question, as signaled by the Cowboys’ willingness to give him guaranteed money.

Wheat Gets First NFL Check After Mississippi State Career

Consistency is something that every NFL team is looking for from a college prospect, and it’s fair to say that Wheat exemplified that during his three seasons with the Bulldogs.

As Sports Reference shows, Wheat was a reliable force as a pass rusher with 17 total sacks and no less than 5 in a season. Additionally, he racked up 25.5 tackles for loss and nabbed an interception in each of his three seasons with Mississippi State.

Doing that in a top conference like the SEC only helped his resume, but the Bulldog still went undrafted. That being said, the Cowboys clearly valued his signature by giving him a guaranteed salary and signing bonus per NFL media insider Tom Pelissero.

“The #Cowboys are signing former Mississippi State OLB Tyrus Wheat to a deal that includes a $20,000 signing bonus plus $185K salary guarantee, per source,” Pelissero tweeted on April 29.

On the scale of NFL contracts, it doesn’t seem like much. But it’s a signal of intent that says Dallas believes Wheat has a chance to stick around.

Cowboys’ Complete UDFA Class

In total, Dallas added 12 undrafted free agents as part of their 2023 rookie class:

  • Jose Barbon, WR, Temple
  • T.J. Bass, OG, Oregon
  • Earl Bostick Jr., OT, Kansas
  • Myles Brooks, CB, Louisiana Tech
  • David Durden, WR, West Florida
  • Princeton Fant, TE, Tennessee
  • Durrell Johnson, DE, Liberty
  • Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State
  • Isaiah Land, LB, Florida A&M
  • D’Angelo Mandell, CB, BYU
  • Jalen Moreno-Cropper, WR, Fresno St
  • Tyrus Wheat, DE, Mississippi State

There are a couple of other names worth monitoring besides Wheat, namely David Durden. Durden did not receive much attention at West Florida, but was named the “most overlooked player” in the 2023 NFL draft by The Athletic’s Kayln Kahler.

It’s important to measure expectations for UDFAs, but there are multiple players that could end up contributing in 2023.

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