The Cowboys will have a well-deserved day off tomorrow. Before returning to practice on Saturday, let’s look back at the rookie draft picks on this team. Now with four practices in the books, two with the pads on, how have they fared in their first week of training camp? Here’s our progress report system:
[How we grade:
Outstanding- player(s) that really stood out with playmaking abilities
Good- player(s) that had solid performances with high potential shown
Fair- player(s) that flashed potential but need more opportunities
Poor- player(s) that are failing to develop or playing poorly
Incomplete- player(s) that haven’t been mentioned at all, unknown commodities ]
Taco Charlton: Good
One of the hardest things to do for rookies is to realize the difference between hurt and actually injured. Taco seems to get that as he got a little dinged up in Thursday’s practice but came right back out to perform well in one-on-ones.
The learning slope for rookie pass rushers is steep but Charlton never backed down from any challenges. In fact, he got into a few dust ups in the padded practices. Bryan Broaddus had this to say:
“Charlton put his left hand in Tyron Smith’s chest and extended it in order to keep Smith's hands off him. Once he had Smith under control, Charlton was able to quickly attack his edge and execute a quality rush. This was a real step in the right direction because, during the OTAs and minicamps, Charlton didn't sniff a pressure against the All-Pro left tackle.”
One thing that stands out so far about Taco is his “strong hands”. Taco called the numbers of guys like La’el Collins and Smith regularly, he felt his fair share of losses but he also got himself a few wins. Something that NFL Network’s Willie McGinest failed to mention. Here is that punch on Emmett Cleary:
We get it, that’s Cleary, not Tyron, but Charlton has been encouraging early in camp. Taco’s still got work ahead but everything in week one of practice from the reps he took with the first team ends to defensive tackle were learning experiences moving him forward in his progression.
Chidobe Awuzie: Outstanding
Awuzie wasn’t tweeted about enough in these practice reports but he showed up in a big way. Our own DannyPhantom was onto something when he suggested using Awuzie as a linebacker occasionally. Well the Cowboys listened, Bryan Broaddus wrote:
“During the first couple of practices, Awuzie has played mainly on the outside at corner but also in the slot as well. What I did notice -- and I had seen this during mini-camp -- was him also lining up as a dime (six defensive backs) linebacker near the line of scrimmage. At 202 pounds, the coaching staff must feel like Awuzie can hold up against the run -- but more importantly, help with any coverage underneath or out of the slot.”
Awuzie, playing cornerback made a two–in-one highlight reel play. Here’s ESPN’s Todd Archer:
“On the first play of one-on-one drills against wide receiver Brice Butler, Awuzie jammed the veteran receiver to make it difficult to get off the line, swatted Dak Prescott's pass up in the air, turned and was able to tip the pass to himself for an interception.”
Coach Garrett was feeling very confident in his Thursday afternoon presser:
Garrett says two INTs in two days are proof Chidobe Awuzie is an impact player.— Patrik Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) July 27, 2017
Jourdan Lewis: Fair
Lewis only got to practice for one day but he had important business to take care of. Now that any legal matters he had hanging over his head are solved, you can bet that he’ll start showing up on the field.
The reason he gets a fair grade over incomplete is because how he came right in on Thursday and did anything that was asked. He didn’t even seem to have missed a beat, coming right in and putting in the work. He didn’t need to be eased in, Lewis put the pads on and basically said I’m ready to roll.
He didn’t have near as many opportunities in his first practice but he did volunteer to do some punt team work when Ryan Switzer got banged up. Lewis had a pretty good week seeing as he was able to clear his name in time for Thursday’s padded practice. We’ll need to keep our eyes peeled for Saturday’s practice and how that grade can rise quickly.
Ryan Switzer: Good
Don’t want to knock a man down for coming up with a hamstring injury on Thursday but it is concerning for these practices. We’ve seen in the past with Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, and Cole Beasley, this team is extra cautious. Before this hiccup, Switzer was playing with a lot of confidence:
“My job has always been to come in here and do what I've always done, which is contribute, produce and use my talents the way I know how. I'm looking forward to having a positive impact on this team, wherever that may be, special teams, offense, just contributing and doing my part."
Ryan Switzer catches a pass while the best song in American history plays in the background. pic.twitter.com/AFgan4pzS6— David Helman (@HelmanDC) July 26, 2017
Ryan Switzer's feet are just a little whoops I mean a whole lot fast pic.twitter.com/Eq264xRg4l— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) July 26, 2017
For the most part, Switzer has been standing out as a guy that will be dynamic going forward. He was catching everything and was working very hard on special teams. Let’s hope this hamstring issue is minor though they usually take a little time.
Xavier Woods: Fair
Like Lewis, we haven’t heard much from Xavier Woods just yet. Broaddus did say this when he was asked about Woods:
In 1on1 he had a really nice snap covering James Hanna when he knocked the ball away. https://t.co/g0hm3EHdo8— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) July 27, 2017
Woods is the type of player that we may not see much from until full contact is allowed. He’s been known to bring the wood as a hitter but it’s doubtful he’s getting that opportunity right now in the first week. Woods is also a playmaker but we will need to exercise some patience to find out. We’ll see what opportunities he gets over the weekend.
Marquez White: Good
So far the story has been how solid these cornerbacks have looked. White was no slouch either in his first week of camp:
Marquez White with a nice break up on Dak's intended pass to Switz. These rookie corners can play.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) July 26, 2017
Any time you’re able to get a PBU on a guy who stays open like Ryan Switzer, good on you. When you’re breaking up passes on the starting quarterback that’s even more impressive, White had his hand in this one too with good coverage on Andy Jones:
Dak and Andy Jones can't quite connect on a stutter-go. Marquez White withbthe coverage. pic.twitter.com/girdLmCpGJ— David Helman (@HelmanDC) July 27, 2017
Broaddus added the following on White:
“Marquez White is kind of a forgotten man as far as the young cornerbacks go is. Not many people have given him an initial shot to make the team when you look at all the numbers. White made a case to stick around during the one-on-one period when he was able to undercut an out route against Ryan Switzer and position himself in order to knock the ball away. It was a good read by White and an even better finish, playing with his off hand.”
Starting off pretty strong for this bunch of defensive backs.
Incompletes: WR Noah Brown, DL Joey Ivie, and DL Jordan Carrell
There has been nothing published either on social media or by any spectators of these practices about these three guys. Truth be told, it’s going to be hard for any of them to snag anything outside a practice squad spot. If the Cowboys do decide to keep a sixth-receiver, Andy Jones has been the only mentionable thus far.
These are the way to early progress reports for the rookies, each week we will try and update these as we go. Stay tuned to BTB for any training camp information and practice recaps that you need.