Drew Pearson: Keep an eye on rookie WR Cedrick Wilson in 2018

(Photo: Icon Sportswire, Getty)

Soon enough, fans of the Dallas Cowboys may be forced to stop hitting snooze on Cedrick Wilson.

An uphill challenge awaits the former Boise State wide receiver, admittedly, needing to earn his spot in a room brimming with bodies at the wide receiver position. While he’ll likely do nothing to change what happens atop the depth chart — with Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley leading the way — he’ll make for a Battle Royale beneath those three seats, his ability to stretch the field putting him head-to-head against players like newly-signed Deonte Thompson, K.D. Cannon and, more notably, Noah Brown.

Brown himself is champing at the bit to prove he can be an impact player in his second year but Lance Lenoir won’t go down without a fight, so if Wilson wants a spot on the final roster he better bring his A-game this summer. If he does that, you’d be hard-pressed to imagine any scenario in which he’s not the third option outside the hashes, helping to potentially push an injured and now criminally-troubled Terrance Williams out the door. Still under investigation following a public intoxication arrest, any suspension levied by the NFL would void the veteran’s guaranteed money, giving the Cowboys their own escape from his bear-trap contract. Also nursing a broken foot, Williams has kicked the door wide open for a player like Wilson to step in and take his spot, something the rookie fully intends on doing.

No slouch to producing when his number is called, the 22-year-old native of Memphis, TN has been known to impact a game or several. His father having also played wideout in the NFL, for nearly a decade, there’s an additional leg up Wilson in the coming competition.

Standing a shade under 6-foot-3, he’s taller than Williams, Cannon and Thompson, an attribute that combines with an above-average wingspan, hand size and vertical jump to make him a nightmare assignment for smaller defensive backs. If the ball is anywhere near his impressive catch radius, he’s inhaling it. Better still, his high football IQ is already ingratiating him with the Cowboys’ staff, particularly new wideouts coach Sanjay Lal — who sounded like a kid in a candy store in describing what he’s seeing¬†from Wilson thus far.

“Ced[rick Wilson] has picked up the offense better than most of the guys in the room,” said Lal, via The Doomsday Podcast. “And now it’s becoming like, ‘Okay, we need a guy to run in there? Ced, go in’, and he knows what to do. [On Wednesday] he scored a touchdown, so he’s …coming along. I’m very happy with it.”

Lal spoke well of Brown and especially Lenoir, the latter he praised for his route-running and willingness to do everything the team asks and more. It helps that Wilson has the pedigree though, considering his father, Cedrick Wilson, Sr., is a former University of Tennessee and NFL star at the position. And if you don’t buy into all of the sleeper hype just yet, well, that’s what numbers are for. Wilson, Jr.’s 694 deep pass receiving yards was good enough for second-most among NCAA draft-eligible FBS wideouts, according to Pro Football Focus, and his 2,640 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns were delivered in only 26 games at Boise State.

Allow me to do the math for you here: That’s an average of over 101 yards per game.

Those currently employed by the organization aren’t the only ones taking notice, as retired legend Drew Pearson — well-known for his once-elite stature as Cowboys’ top wideout threat — recently pointed out. In speaking with Will Brinson of CBS Sports via the Pick Six Podcast, the Ring of Honor inductee made it clear just how enamored he is with Wilson.

“I think they need to shake up that receiver corps, because none of them performed well last season,” said Pearson. “They all performed below par. So with some new blood, it might motivate some of the guys that were there last year that are still on the team this year — like a Terrance Williams, if he can beat this latest rap on him. But I like the new corps of receivers, Michael Gallup out of Colorado State, I think he can make an impact.

Allen Hurns is pretty much the same as Dez Bryant. He didn’t have the initial part of his career like Dez. Dez was a beast, but the injuries caught up to him to slow him down. I think Allen Hurns can step in and do that job.

“The guy you might want to watch is the guy they got out of Boise State, Wilson, this guy Cedrick Wilson. I heard coming out of the rookie minicamp that he was one of the guys who stood out and showed a lot of ability to take his game from the next level, college to the NFL.”

High praise from an elite eye.

Wilson still has his work cut out for him if he wants to carve his way onto the Cowboys’ 53-man roster this season, and there’s no time like the present to begin showing the team he has the chops to play at the professional level. In all likelihood, the team will carry six wideouts in 2018 and, not counting Tavon Austin, there are currently 11 fighting for supremacy. If you subtract the locks that are Hurns, Gallup and Beasley, that leaves eight guys fighting for three seats. There’s a lot of time for things to change over the course of training camp, obviously, but Wilson already has Lal’s attention.

And the safe bet is he’ll keep it.

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