The continuous task of building the roster is a 365-day a year job for the Cowboys front office, and each new season they bring in a new crop of faces to help contribute to the team. It’s always fun to try to figure out what type of role these new players will have, and last year we made our best guess in trying to predict the top ten new Cowboys that will make the biggest impact.
We will give this exercise another go (article coming soon), but before we announce the new list, it’s always helpful to take a look at the past and see if there are things we can learn from it. And that’s exactly what we are going to do today.
Here is the list of last year’s top 10 predictions and how things actually turned out...
What we got right
The top three went right as predicted as Robert Quinn, Travis Frederick, and Randall Cobb had a huge impact last year. Quinn led the Cowboys in sacks (11.5) as well as quarterback hits (22) and tackles for a loss (13). He also batted down three passes and caused two forced fumbles. Statistically, he was the Cowboys top defensive lineman, which helped him land a five-year, $70 million deal with the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Travis Frederick returned last year after missing 2018 when he was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome. All he did was lead the entire team in snap counts last season - how’s that for a nice return? While he may not have been his old self, he was pretty darn good and earned Pro Bowl honors for the fifth straight season he’s been playing. Unfortunately, Frederick retired from the NFL in March, meaning once again the Cowboys will be without their stud center.
Randall Cobb’s performance wasn’t a shocker as he’s been a good receiver his entire career; however, the surprise came in the form of his availability. After battling injuries in recent years, Cobb stayed pretty healthy, only missing one game last year. You’d have to go all the way back to 2015 to find a season where he played in more games. The savvy slot receiver was very efficient too, churning out a career-high 15.1 yards per reception. Cobb’s performance got him a three-year, $27 deal with the Houston Texans this offseason.
Where we were close
Jason Witten is as reliable as they come, which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he put up pretty close to the same numbers as he did during his previous season with the Cowboys. You can set your watch to it.
He wasn’t projected to be that high as some were hoping Blake Jarwin would see a little more action. The young tight end also produced almost identical numbers from his previous season, much to the disappointment of fans hoping to see an uptick in targets.
Tony Pollard’s production was as predicted. Expectations were tempered a bit with him being a rookie, but he was extremely efficient in what touches he did get as he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. It would be nice to see him utilized a little more.
There were good reasons to be excited about Christian Covington as he was a solid player for the Texans in a rotational role. He filled in nicely, logging 481 snaps (45%) when Antwaun Woods missed six games.
What we got wrong
The disappointment for Trysten Hill started early when most believed the Cowboys reached for him in the draft. Even still, you’d have to think he would’ve had a little more of an impact than he did. Hill was only active for seven games, and in three of those games - he didn’t record a single stat. He finished his rookie year with just five tackles.
Hill wasn’t the only of the Cowboys Day 2 picks who didn’t make much of an impact. Third-round pick Connor McGovern tore his pectoral muscle and was lost for the year. We never had the opportunity to see if he was going to challenge the other Connor for the left guard starting position.
It was disappointing that Michael Jackson didn’t even make the team, let alone show promise as a potential corner for the future. The team signed him to their practice squad before the Detroit Lions poached him away. He was only active for one game where he saw just two snaps on special teams.
Brandon Knight surprised a lot of people by first making the 53-man roster, and then playing a serviceable 110 offensive snaps. He filled in when La’el Collins got hurt and could be making a strong push for the team’s new swing tackle.
Another surprise came from linebacker Luke Gifford as he flashed great play in the preseason. Unfortunately, he had trouble staying healthy and only played in six games, logging 58 snaps on special teams.
Next, we will take a look at the upcoming season and see which players make this year’s top ten “new guys” list. Let us hear who you got in the comments below.