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.
But for the Cowboys, that may be a little different - and not because I think first-round pick Taco Charlton won't be any good, not at all. This year may be different for the Cowboys rookie class because five of the Cowboys picks were graded within the top 68 on the Cowboys' board.
The first three picks, Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis, all had second-round grades, Ryan Switzer and Xavier Woods ranked within the top 68, likely signifying a third-round grade.
So which one of them will have the best season?
Taco Charlton will likely get a lot of snaps and the chance to show what he's got. And like it or not, his impact will be measured in the number of sacks he gets in his rookie season. But how many sacks would be considered a success? Some fans might be looking for a double-digit sack total for Charlton in 2017, perhaps oblivious to the fact that the ten drafts from 2007-2016 produced just five edge rusher rookie season with 10+ sacks:
10+ sacks might be asking a little too much from Charlton. Would matching Benson Mayowa's team leading six sacks from 2016 be considered a success? It probably should, because six sacks would be the third-best rookie sack total in Cowboys franchise history. Here are the top five Cowboys rookie seasons in terms of sacks since the NFL made sacks an official stat in 1982:
Sitting quietly unnoticed at No.3 is Maliek Collins with five sacks, a tremendous achievement for a rookie, and he wasn't even an edge rusher. Would five sacks be considered a success for Charlton?
At defensive back, the success stat of choice is not quite as clear, but there are expectations that the rookies should improve the Cowboys' turnover ratio by getting interceptions (if they get to play). Again, a look at franchise history may help shape those expectations. Here are the top eight Cowboys rookie seasons in terms of interceptions:
|Five tied at three each|
Considering that Barry Church led the team with two interceptions, anything beyond that should probably be considered a success.
Maybe the success will be measured as a group more than as individuals. Jourdan Lewis wears No. 27, a number previously worn by Ron Fellows. Fellows wore the number from 1981-1986 and was part of a Cowboys secondary QB Danny White coined "Thurman's Thieves" for their opportunistic play on defense when the Cowboys notched 33 interceptions in 1985, the second-highest total in franchise history. Considering the Cowboys had just nine interceptions last year, anything that gets the team closer to Thurmann's Thieves levels must be considered a success, no?
Ryan Switzer may not see too many snaps on offense, but he's likely penciled in as the punt returner. Going back all the way to 1960, Patrick Peterson holds the rookie record for punt return TDs with four, followed by Devin Hester with three and fourteen other players with two. For the Cowboys, only six players recorded a punt return TD in their rookies season, and two of them (Dez Bryant and Kevin Williams) managed to do it twice in their rookie seasons.
And perhaps just getting a few starts will be success enough for the four later picks.
Vote in the attached poll and let us know which of the top five rookies you think will have the most success this year.