Every year, teams and fanbases are excited by their haul of rookies acquired through the NFL draft. This year is no different. The Dallas Cowboys added nine rookies to their 90-man roster as they head into OTAs and training camp for the 2016 season. Every year, we'd like to think that all of the rookies will make the team and contribute in some meaningful way, but that isn't likely. Usually at least a few are released outright or relegated to the practice squad. So who will make it this year and who will be disappointed? Let's make some guesses.
1. Ezekiel Elliott (Lock) - This one is easy. The fourth-overall pick of the draft is going to make the roster and should be the starter from the beginning. There is no mystery here.
2. Jaylon Smith (Lock, but status is debatable) - Jerry Jones says they won't put Smith on IR for 2016, instead they hope that maybe he can play by the end of the season. I still have my doubts about that, my guess is that once the season draws near Smith will be put on the injured list, but the Cowboys will obviously keep him as a part of the organization.
3. Maliek Collins (Almost a lock) - It would be very unusual for a third-round pick not to make it, and Collins almost certainly will. His one challenge is that the Cowboys, for once, actually have some players at the defensive tackle spots. But Collins should have no problem breaking into the rotation.
4. Charles Tapper (Almost a lock) - Tapper's fourth-round status makes him a near lock to make the roster. More importantly, the Cowboys lack of defensive end talent combined with two suspensions means that Tapper has the opportunity to make a name for himself early.
5. Dak Prescott (Lock) - Even though he's a fourth-round pick, he is still a lock to make the roster. The Cowboys didn't spend a pick on a quarterback not to give him a few years to develop. If they tried to stash him on the practice squad, another team would likely grab him.
6. Anthony Brown (Fair chance) - Now we're getting into the later-round guys. Brown plays a position that is adequately staffed at the starter spots, but lacks depth, Also, next year could have more openings at corner, so if Brown can show any potential, he could make the squad. But watch out for the Cowboys acquiring a veteran later this offseason that could complicate Brown's chances.
7. Kavon Frazier (Good chance) - With Byron Jones' move to safety the Cowboys are trying to build around him. Barry Church is the likely other starter and Jeff Heath was just re-signed to a four-year deal. So can Frazier knock J.J. Wilcox off the roster? Frazier is reportedly a fierce special teams contributor, that could be his edge.
8. Darius Jackson (Slim chance) - His athleticism has wowed everyone, but for him to make the roster, the Cowboys would likely have to dump Darren McFadden. Elliott and Alfred Jackson are going to make the team, and McFadden is a cheap option to be a third-down guy who the Cowboys know they can trust. He is also a good fallback in case of injury. Jackson likely is a practice squad player.
9. Rico Gathers (Slim chance) - He's my pet cat, but it's unlikely he manages to make the 53-man roster this year. The Cowboys will want to keep him around on the practice squad if he shows any potential at camp, but he just has so much to learn before he can contribute on the field.
That's my take, let's hear yours in the comments.