As a rule of thumb, you'd probably expect your first-round pick to have the best rookie season out of your rookie class. After all, there's a reason you picked that guy in the first round.
There's every reason to expect Zack Martin not only to start, but to have a very good season. But does that necessarily mean he'll have the best rookie season?
DeMarcus Lawrence probably won't get as many starts as Martin, and may not get any at all if he's just brought in a as a third-down rusher. And even if he doesn't all that many starts, if he racks up enough sacks, QB hits, or QB pressures, he may be prime candidate for the best rookie season. Bruce Irvin for example didn't start a single game in his rookie season, but played 452 snaps and recorded 8 sacks, 12 QB Hits and 20 QB pressures. That's pretty good, no?
Anthony Hitchens faces the daunting task of trying to help fill the crater in the middle of the Cowboys' defense left by Sean Lee's injury. Nobody is expecting him to emerge as a starter, but filling in capably as a backup would already be a win for the Cowboys. Hitchens will probably also see extensive playing time on special teams, which could significantly increase his first-year impact. For a fourth-round pick, that's about all that's needed his rookie season to be considered "good."
And in all fairness, for any of the seventh rounders, simply making the 53-man roster after camp would be a great achievement.
- DE Ben Gardner plays with the kind of reckless abandon that could quickly make him a fan favorite - and he won't necessarily have to put up a lot of stats in the process.
- Will Smith is in the mix somewhere at linebacker, but where?
- Ahmad Dixon will have to become Rich Bisaccia's best friend and difference maker on special teams to make the team and to have any kind of perceptible impact on the 2014 season. But perhaps a highlight play here or there could make his a standout rookie season.
- Ken Bishop may get more playing time than your average seventh-round rookie due to the fact that he's big-bodied run-stuffer, and the Cowboys don't have many guys like him. In fact, the mothership lists him as the only guy with a "NT" position designation. Even if the Cowboys only play him on obvious run downs, if he is able to clog up the middle, the Cowboys defense will be much better off for that ability.
- Terrance Mitchell will likely be in a battle for the fourth corner spot, and an injury to either Claiborne, Carr, or Scandrick could have Mitchell starting much earlier than anybody anticipates, and with those potential starts also comes the possibility to shine.
Or could one of the undrafted free agents like DT Davon Coleman, FB J.C. Copeland, RB Ben Malena or any of the other UDFAs emerge from relative obscurity? Tell us in the poll below which of the 2014 rookies will have the best season in 2014.