Cowboys' draft has good news for Rico Gathers, bad for Brice Butler

Brice Butler signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys early in free agency, but his status is in flux with the re-signing of Terrance Williams and the drafting of two receivers. George Walker/Icon Sportswire

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys’ draft did not just affect the nine players they selected over seven rounds. It also affected a number of players already on the roster -- with good news for some, bad news for others.

Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer and Xavier Woods, the Cowboys’ top five picks, figure to play prominent roles as a rookies. Marquez White, Joey Ivie, Noah Brown and Jordan Carrell will fight for roster spots.

Here's the impact on the existing roster:


Rico Gathers -- Many a mock drafter had the Cowboys selecting a tight end, but those pundits seemingly forgot that the Cowboys had drafted Gathers, the converted basketball player, a year ago in the sixth round. Gathers is a Jerry Jones favorite, and that always buys a prospect time. He will be given ample time this summer to claim a job on the 53-man roster. It should be noted, though, that the Cowboys gave tight end Blake Jarwin the largest signing bonus of any of their undrafted free agent signees ($15,000).

Jeff Heath -- Awuzie has some safety experience, but he will play corner. While Woods displayed the ability to make plays on the ball at La. Tech, he wasn't drafted until the sixth round. Had the Cowboys drafted a safety in the third or fourth round, maybe that would have been more telling for Heath. But it’s clear the Cowboys like Heath more than a lot of people want them to.

Kellen Moore -- The Cowboys didn’t draft a quarterback. They did sign Cooper Rush and Austin Appleby as undrafted free agents, but neither will push Moore for a spot this year. It’s possible the Cowboys now will go after a young veteran type to serve as the No. 3 quarterback.

Jaylon Smith -- Given the talk around last year’s second-round pick and the ever-improving nerve condition in his foot, Smith has to be listed as a weekend winner. And for the first time since 2004, the Cowboys didn’t draft a linebacker, which is another sign they are counting on Smith.

Chaz Green/Byron Bell -- One of them should be the right tackle this year. That the Cowboys did not select a tackle in the draft puts them in a head-to-head competition to take Doug Free’s old job.


Orlando Scandrick -- Word surfaced on Day 2 of the draft that he was on the trading block, but Jerry Jones denied that was true. Jones called Scandrick an integral part of what the Cowboys want to do defensively in 2017. But they drafted three cornerbacks. While Scandrick will be two years removed from knee surgery this season, he is also 30 years old. It would be somewhat surprising if the Cowboys move on from Scandrick, but it’s clear his future might not be long.

Brice Butler -- He signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys early in free agency, when it looked like he could be the starter opposite Dez Bryant. Then Terrance Williams re-signed on a four-year, $17 million deal. On top of that, the Cowboys took two receivers in the draft. Brown would appear to be the bigger threat to Butler. The Cowboys gave Butler a signing bonus of only $300,000, so they are not tied to him with a big financial burden.

Lucky Whitehead -- He has been the team’s main returner the last two years, after making the team as an undrafted free agent. The Cowboys already view Switzer as their punt returner and mentioned the possibility of him doing kick returns as well. Whitehead didn’t help himself by showing up late to a walk-through late last season, leading to him being left home for a game. This move hurts him more.

Cedric Thornton -- He’s not going anywhere this year, but with the selection of Charlton in the first round and with DeMarcus Lawrence working back from back surgery, Tyrone Crawford could move back inside to defensive tackle. The Cowboys like Maliek Collins a lot. He was second on the team in sacks last year as a rookie. Thornton was the Cowboys’ biggest free-agent pickup a year ago but couldn’t beat out Terrell McClain.

Leon McFadden, Duke Thomas, Jeremiah McKinnon -- Before the draft, they were the fourth, fifth and sixth cornerbacks on the roster. With the addition of Awuzie, Lewis and White, their spots are in peril.