It’s been a recurring theme so far this season: not much to feel good about on a large scale, but this rookie class is looking pretty good. Well, things are even more dour now that Dak Prescott is done for the season, but the bright side is that his replacement has plenty of weapons to work with, including CeeDee Lamb. The rookie receiver makes it hard to rave about these other rookies with just how dominant he’s been playing, but we’ll try our best.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
We knew when the Cowboys got CeeDee Lamb with the 17th overall pick that it was a steal, but the former Sooner is showing just how crazy those first 16 teams were to pass on him. I mean, look at this catch!
There’s only a handful of receivers in the entire NFL who make that catch. CeeDee Lamb, as a rookie, is somehow one of them. It makes no sense that he’s this good, but he is. And it’s not just that Lamb is making highlight reel catches, but it’s the nuance with which he runs his routes. Lamb has consistently shown an ability to adjust his routes to the coverage and get open no matter what the defense throws at him.
#Cowboys rookie WR CeeDee Lamb has been living in the deep middle of opposing defenses all season.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 12, 2020
Zone? He's aware enough to find the soft spots in between zones vs 1 & 2-high.
Man? He's good enough with his releases & overall route running to create separation. pic.twitter.com/0qPaJZmsm2
This is the type of stuff that advanced, seasoned receivers do with regularity and Lamb is doing it in his first year in the pros with virtually no real offseason ahead of time. Is it possible I’m overrating Lamb? Pro Football Focus doesn’t think so:
The Cowboys have themselves a star in CeeDee Lamb ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/YdeXivi7fs— PFF (@PFF) October 12, 2020
As for the actual performance against the Giants this past week, Lamb led the team with eight catches for 124 yards. He also remained in for punt returns, but only fielded one that went for just three yards. In a season that’s already felt too long for Cowboys fans, it helps to have a genuinely incredible star like Lamb doing his thing every week.
Trevon Diggs, CB
Trevon Diggs put up some really good plays (and some bad ones) in the first three games before he, like the rest of the Cowboys defense, got abused by the Browns last week. More than that, Diggs has been battling through a nagging shoulder injury recently. Apparently that injury became a bigger factor against the Giants.
After playing every single defensive snap through the first four games, Diggs was only in on 74% of the defensive snaps this week. He started the game, but had to leave at a certain point due to complications. He was seen on the sideline with his helmet off, and it looked like Daryl Worley and the recently-returned Anthony Brown were going to be the starters at outside corner the rest of the way.
Diggs managed to come back later in the game, to his credit, but he wasn’t playing at 100%; at one point in particular, Diggs came up to make a tackle and bounced off the receiver. Still, Diggs finished with three tackles and a pass defensed. It wasn’t the rebound the rookie was looking for, but his ability to fight through the pain and return to the game was impressive. Diggs has certainly flashed the traits you want in a cornerback, and he should only get better as he adjusts to the NFL.
Neville Gallimore, DT
Well hello there, Neville! After being inactive the past two weeks and hardly playing before then, Gallimore got some real playing time against New York. He saw 22 defensive snaps, which about a third of the total defensive snaps available. Not much, but a start.
While Gallimore didn’t turn any heads - there’s a reason he was inactive - he did record one tackle and one hit on the quarterback. He looked very much like he did in college: a twitchy penetration guy that doesn’t do much against the run. But with Trysten Hill going down in the game, it could very well mean Gallimore sees a lot more action, especially in that 3-technique role on passing downs.
Reggie Robinson II, DB
At this rate, odds are higher we’ll see Ben DiNucci in a game before Reggie Robinson. He was inactive again, and with Anthony Brown returning from injury for this game and Chidobe Awuzie getting closer to a return of his own, don’t expect anything to change on this front.
Tyler Biadasz, C
It’s been a big year for Tyler Biadasz fans. After the cancellation of the preseason robbed the Wisconsin center from a chance to compete for the starting job, he gradually made his way onto the field through the first four games, and Looney’s injury on the first play of last week’s loss gave Biadasz his first career start against New York.
The result was ultimately a mixed bag, as Biadasz had some bad reps in pass protection and botched the snap on the fumble the Giants recovered. But Biadasz also showed his strength and athleticism, especially in the running game, while earning high praise from Zack Martin.
Again.. this was the best I've seen Ezekiel Elliott run in awhile.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 12, 2020
And... look at rookie Tyler Biadasz get to the second level. pic.twitter.com/YMuGu94G9X
Zack Martin raved about rookie Tyler Biadasz’s performance at center when he stepped in for Looney, said “Very bright. I don’t think he had any mental mistakes at all. “— Brianna Dix (@DixBrianna) October 7, 2020
Bradlee Anae, EDGE
The Bradlee Anae Fan Club, of which I’m a founding member, added another cut-up to their PowerPoint presentation of why the Utah edge rusher should get more playing time. Anae was only on the field for one defensive snap on Sunday, but he took full advantage of the opportunity:
Bradlee Anae's lone defensive snap vs. the Giants resulted in a QB hit pic.twitter.com/gdHnNVCSGr— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) October 12, 2020
Anae has a total of six defensive snaps on the year so far, and he’s been highly productive on each of them. It’s provided plenty of ammunition for fans to call for more playing time, but in a game where nearly every Cowboys defender got to the quarterback in some way, Anae’s fans will have to wait at least one more week.
Ben DiNucci, QB
Once again, Ben DiNucci was inactive. But there’s a very good chance that changes next week, as he’ll now be the primary backup quarterback unless Dallas brings in someone else.
Terence Steele, OT
With Tyron Smith’s season ending earlier in the week, Brandon Knight is the new full-time starter at left tackle, which means Terence Steele is back at right tackle after being benched last week. He’ll be the starter for as long Cam Erving remains sidelined, and possibly even after that.
Based on how Steele looked Sunday, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having potentially his best game of the year so far, Steele continued his streak of “good enough, all things considered” play; it helps not going against Myles Garrett, of course. Steele is a much better run blocker than pass blocker right now, but he managed to hold his own in both areas against a scrappy Giants pass rush.
It’ll be on Steele to continue to grow into this role as the season goes on, or else the Cowboys will really have to start scraping the bottom of the barrel for replacements. If these first five games are any indication, Steele is up to the challenge.
Francis Bernard, LB
Francis Bernard saw his first NFL action last week, but was relegated exclusively to special teams work. This week, he got some time on defense. Granted, it was only seven defensive snaps and Bernard didn’t log any statistic, but it’s encouraging to see Bernard being gradually worked into things.
But with Jaylon Smith’s performance on Sunday and the eventual return of Leighton Vander Esch, Bernard may have already hit his ceiling as far as the amount of snaps he’ll see this year.
Sean McKeon, TE
Sean McKeon has quietly carved out a nice role in this offense, functioning as the third tight end in jumbo formations and contributing on special teams. And for a brief moment on Sunday, McKeon was elevated to the TE2 role when Blake Bell temporarily left with an injury.
McKeon only logged five snaps on offense, functioning exclusively as a blocker, which is nothing new for him. Depending on Bell’s health, though, McKeon may once again see a promotion.
Rico Dowdle, RB
Another week, another special teams-only role for Rico Dowdle. As long as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are healthy, Dowdle isn’t going to see the field on offense. His 11 special teams snaps were right in line with what’s been asked of him thus far on the year.
Rashad Smith, LB
Once again, Rashad Smith was inactive. He may be a practice squad candidate once Vander Esch comes back too.