Dallas Cowboys rookie offensive lineman Dan Skipper will be the NFL’s tallest player if he makes the team.
Whether being 6-foot-10 makes a difference at the pro level is up for debate, but Skipper’s having none of it either way.
For the record, 7-foot Richard Sligh is recognized as the tallest player in NFL history, having played for the Oakland Raiders in 1967. Of course there was another tall guy who played 15 seasons for the Cowboys, but he was on defense. That was 6-9 Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
“I just try to play ball,” Skipper said. “The biggest thing I want is to go out there and be a tough guy and play hard.
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“That’s what it always comes down to and it’s what I try to do, whether I’m 6-8 or 6-10 or somewhere in between.”
But the reality is, Skipper’s not in between on any measuring stick and his road to the NFL is no tall tale.
Skipper was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference player for the ground-and-pound Arkansas Razorbacks.
He went undrafted in May and many league teams feared a chronic blood condition that came to light during prospect evaluations.
Then the Cowboys, who are owned by Arkansas alum Jerry Jones, decided to take a look, but not before another series of checkups.
After the draft, Skipper participated in the team’s rookie mini-camp as a tryout candidate. They signed him a week later.
During mini-camp, Skipper seemed more dismissive of his health than concerned.
“The doctors were just checking all the stuff out,” he said. “I’ve always had it and it’s not a big deal.”
Whatever the case, Skipper’s looking for a roster spot. He’s a long shot, as most undrafted or tryout players are, but he’s still on the roster heading into a three-day, pre-camp workout beginning Wednesday and then to training camp in Oxnard, Calif.
The Cowboys love versatile offensive linemen, and Skipper played both tackle spots in Arkansas’ run-oriented offense. He also played on special teams for the Razorbacks, blocking seven field goals, just two off the Football Bowl Subdivision record.
He blocked a potential game-winning field goal against TCU in the final seconds of regulation last September in Fort Worth. The Hogs won the game in overtime.
“I just want to work on technique and understand how it’s done down here and obviously that changes wherever you go,” Skipper said. “But I just want to get that situated as early as possible, ultimately that’s what’s going to make you successful.
“Up at this level, the speed of the game is ramped up and that’s been my biggest challenge as far as on-the-field stuff goes. I’m just trying to get to a point where you’re not thinking and just play and play fast.”
So where does the big man fit in the roster puzzle?
“Right now I’m working at tackle, but we’ll see what happens,” he said. “They’re stressing to us that tackles need to know the position at guard, centers need to know guards and guards need to know either center or tackle.
“I don’t have a preference, I just want to play.”
NFL key dates
▪ Sept. 2, 3 p.m. Teams must reduce rosters from 90 players to 53.
▪ Oct. 31, 3 p.m. Trade deadline, the Tuesday before Week 9. The last notable Cowboys in-season trade happened in 2008 when the team acquired receiver Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions.
▪ Jan. 1, 2018: Teams may opt to exercise fifth-year option on 2015 first-round picks. They have until May 3 to do this.
▪ Jan. 6-7: Wild card playoffs
▪ Jan. 13-14: Divisional playoffs
▪ Jan. 21: Championship games
▪ Jan. 27: Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
▪ Jan. 28: Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
▪ Feb. 4: Super Bowl in Minneapolis
▪ Feb. 20: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition tags with the deadline coming at 3 p.m. CST on March 6.
▪ Feb. 27- March 5: NFL Combine in Indianapolis
▪ March 12-14: Clubs may enter into contract talks with players set to hit free agency
▪ March 14: The 2018 league year begins at 3 p.m., thus teams can sign free agents
▪ April 26-28: NFL draft, site to be determined
Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule
Aug. 3 vs. Arizona (NBC)* 7 p.m.
Aug. 12 at Los Angeles Rams (NFL Network) 8 p.m.
Aug. 19 vs. Indianapolis (NFL Network) 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Oakland 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Houston 7 p.m.
* Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio
Sept. 10 vs. New York Giants (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Denver (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Arizona (ESPN) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams (KDFW/4) Noon
Oct. 8 vs. Green Bay (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Oct. 15 Bye
Oct. 22 at San Francisco (KDFW/4) 3:05 p.m.
Oct. 29 at Washington (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 5 vs. Kansas City (KTVT 11) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 12 at Atlanta (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 19 vs. Philadelphia (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. LA Chargers (KTVT/11) 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 vs. Washington (KXAS/5) 7:25 p.m.
Dec. 10 at New York Giants (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 17 at Raiders (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 24 vs. Seattle (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 31 at Philadelphia (KDFW/4) Noon