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Grading the Cowboys’ draft picks after the preseason game with the Rams

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How did the Cowboys’ rookies perform against the Rams?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A new week and new exhibition auditions for the 2017 draft class. By what transpired in a very dull 13-10 loss to the Rams, there was plenty to take note of. First, a quick reminder of how we grade:

[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 to improve

Poor- player(s) that are failing to develop or playing poorly

Incomplete- player(s) that haven’t been mentioned, unknown commodities, Non-participants]

Taco Charlton – Good

Last week we graded Taco as having a fair performance to which many disagreed and thought he was downright lousy. What a week’s time does? Charlton actually missed some practice reps this week dealing with some soreness but he played well against the Rams. He recorded his first sack which sent Twitter into a frenzy but you saw what the Cowboys saw in him in this game, even in a limited role.

On this play, Taco is up against second-year and backup tackle Pace Murphy. Instead of going for that “swim move” that often washes him out, Taco uses his length and strong hands to never let Murphy get good hand placement. As he keeps his wheels turning, Murphy is immediately in trouble. It’s a sack for Taco, almost a safety, but nice to see Charlton knock some pico de gallo out of a quarterback. Charlton also had three solo tackles to end his night. That’s the way to improve from a week prior.

The Incompletes (Non-Participants):

Chidobe Awuzie (ankle), Jourdan Lewis (hamstring), Ryan Switzer (hamstring), Marquez White (hamstring)

None of these issues seem to be too concerning but you would like to see more from all of these guys before the preseason is up. There are still three games left so we likely will. Awuzie and White both had good first outings against the Cardinals. There are rumblings that Lewis’ hammy is the sorest of the bunch. Switzer got back into practice this week starting limited but got some reps in team drills. White was listed by NFL.com as a participant but he wasn’t out there. Seeing this tweet earlier in the week kind of gave you the idea that this was possible:

We’ll check in with the card-carrying members of Club Hamstrung next week and see if anything changes.

Xavier Woods –Outstanding

Sure, he’s my pet cat, but Woods stood out in a major way:

Check out the hit he lays on this play that eventually gets called an incomplete pass:

That one was a little debatable but it looked like the receiver made a football move with possession then gets leveled. Maybe the officials just felt bad that the Rams had already fumbled five times and gave them a break here. That was really great safety play by Woods and Kavon Frazier. However, that wasn’t all he did:

Woods with a nice open-field tackle may have been the only willing tackler out there in the first clip. The second clip was one of three third-down stops he made.

Xavier Woods was everywhere in this game and he’s just simply good at playing football. He’s the opposite of the guy he was picked to replace. He seemed to take all the right angles in this game. If Woods continues to play this well, he won’t just be pushing for playing time on special teams. Performances like the one he just had will be too loud to ignore for Brian Baker and Greg Jackson.

Noah Brown- Good

There aren’t any clips to be shown but Noah Brown gave his legion of loyal followers a solid performance Saturday night. He was second on the team in receiving with three receptions for 41 yards. When he was needed, he made plays that kept drives alive even if it meant getting killed in the process.

In the second quarter, facing second and seven at the LA 30, he took a short pass for 11 yards to the 19-yard line. Backed up on their own six-yard line, facing third and seven, Brown was there again for 11 yards and some room. His best and worst play was a 19-yard grab from Cooper Rush, where he just loses the ball with no contact but we know why:

No harm no foul when Rico Gathers was there to bail him out and a few plays later they get the touchdown. Speaking of harm and foul, Brown also drew an unnecessary roughness call in the fourth quarter on third and four. All in all, not a bad day for Brown who is in a battle for a sixth receiving spot with Andy Jones.

Joey Ivie- Fair

At least he showed up this week and got his name called. In the third quarter on second and five, he tackled the running back for a four-yard loss to set up third and nine. When the Rams got to the Cowboys’ 32-yard line, Ivie made a stop on first down for no gain.

Jordan Carrell- Poor

He had a few tackles but the play always got past him. On third and 35, the running back gets through the line but Carrell makes the tackle after nine yards gained. Then on back-to-back plays where he was credited with the tackle, he gave up nine, then the three to put the Rams in the red zone. He may have shown some recovery in getting those tackles, we’ll give a little credit there. Still, Jordan Carrell gave almost no push up front, showed minimal pass rush ability, and just let too many plays get past him.

Honorable Mentions:

We usually only do the draft picks for this year but some guys really showed they are earning their stars with the Cowboys. Most of these guys are rookies or could be considered a rookie. Here are some guys that stood out with the BTB gang:

Tom Ryle- “Cooper Rush took huge steps.”

Tom’s right, Rush was the only quarterback that looked like he belonged in the NFL for the Cowboys yesterday. Scott Linehan may defend Kellen Moore until he’s blue in the face but only one guy stepped up. Rush went 9 of 11 for 104 yards, one touchdown, and a quarterback rating of 136.4. He also completed 81.8% of his passes and took zero sacks.

Dave Halprin- “I’ll tell you who was a baller tonight…Lenny Jones!”

The stat sheets show three tackles and one sack but Jones was flying. Despite being in his first year, Jones is 26-years old. He’s 6’3 and 270 pounds but he’s got some explosiveness that was on display in this game. That’s good news for a team looking for a pass rusher.

DannyPhantom- “I'm loving what I see from Lewis Neal.

“The Cowboys drafted two defensive tackles in the seventh round (Joey Ivie and Jordan Carrell), but it is the undrafted free agent from Louisiana State that is showing out the most. He's been starting with the 1's and he is holding his own. On the second play of the game, he blew up the guard and tackled Todd Gurley for a three yard loss. He's very athletic and has position flex which is always a plus on this team. If the Cowboys end up keeping four DTs on the roster, my money is on Neal and putting Ivie and Carrell on the practice squad.”

VAfan- “Rico Gathers is well on his way to changing the ways the Cowboys use tight ends.”

For years, Jason Witten has mastered the chain-moving tight end option play. Effective, but not the dynamic part of the Cowboys’ offense. With Rico's size, speed, balance, and hands, the Cowboys can now use a tight end like New England and many other teams do, mixing in down-the-field plays where linebackers cannot keep up and defensive backs have their hands full.