It feels like only yesterday when the Dallas Cowboys pulled off a draft for the ages. The 2016 haul of Ezekiel Elliott (All-Pro), Jaylon Smith (Pro Bowler), Maliek Collins (four-year starter), and Dak Prescott (highest-paid Cowboys player ever) have all been great players throughout their rookie deals. Even sixth-round pick Anthony Brown remains a key player for the cornerback position group. What a great draft.
So, it brings great satisfaction to say that this new class of rookies has an opportunity to stand on it’s own as one of the great draft harvests we’ve seen from this organization. With steals to be had in round after round, there is a lot to love from this group, but just what can we expect from these new players in their first year in the league?
Round 1: WR CeeDee Lamb
The Oklahoma star receiver joins an already strong group of Cowboys pass-catchers as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were pretty darn fantastic last year. And it’s easy to think a rookie wideout could take a backseat to these other guys, but CeeDee Lamb isn’t a guy who will wait his turn. Everything he’s done in camp sets the table for this eventual star receiver to deliver a very strong first impression to the NFL.
Projection: 61 receptions, 1,004 yards, seven TD’s
Round 2: CB Trevon Diggs
I woke up on Day 2 of the draft dreaming of Mr. Diggs finding his way into a Cowboys uniform, and sure enough the good graces of Will McClay and his fantastic scouts made it happen. As with most new corners entering the league, Diggs will have his fair share of learning moments. But just like in training camp, he will also show people why his name was mentioned as a potential first-round candidate. It was thought he could start the season in a reserve role until he gets better acclimated; however, an injury to Chidobe Awuzie could mean the training wheels are coming off of Diggs sooner versus later.
Projection: 10 pass breakups and three interceptions
Round 3: DT Neville Gallimore
Another standing ovation draft pick on Day 2, the Cowboys added more beef in the middle of their defensive line. Initially, it looked like he would carve himself a small role behind veteran stud free agent signing Gerald McCoy, but McCoy suffered a season-ending injury in training camp. With the starting 3-tech job up for grabs, it appears that second-year player Trysten Hill will start the season with the gig. While Gallimore is a nice pick for the future, he might not get many opportunities this season.
Projection: 18 tackles, two tackles for loss, half a sack
Round 4: DB Reggie Robinson II
The length and raw ability of Robinson had the appeal of a possible outside corner spot in the future, but things weren’t working out so well at that position in camp, so the coaching staff moved him to safety. It’s hard to say if any of that will stick or if the team is just feeling things out, but one thing we do know is that Robinson should play a key role on special teams for the Cowboys. He’s got a lot of developing to do, but in the mean time, let’s hope he gives us a couple splash plays in the kicking game.
Projection: 250 special teams snaps, six tackles, one blocked field goal
Round 4: C Tyler Biadasz
While the buzz for the rookie was hot and heavy after the draft, things have calmed down a bit as everyone has come to terms with Joe Looney holding down the starting center job. It’s been a disadvantage for all the youngsters considering what the NFL is going through right now with COVID, so any hype for the Wisconsin stud will have to be shelved for now. Expect a whole lot of sitting for Biadasz in 2020.
Projection: Active for just two games, 8 offensive snaps in garbage time
Round 5: EDGE Bradlee Anae
Give the Cowboys credit; they keep adding some intriguing pass rushers to this roster. Between some savvy veterans and a new crop of youngsters, the team finds themselves with an abundance of bodies along the edge. Utah’s Bradlee Anae is one of those guys. Sure, he’s the new kid in the league, but he’s had a good camp and has a shot to get some reps here and there. And with the likely return of Randy Gregory in October, this packed house is even more crowded.
Projection: 91 total snaps with a third of them coming on special teams, one forced fumble
Round 6: QB Ben DiNucci
The Cowboys took a flyer on Ben DiNucci to give them a development quarterback in their back pocket. And with veteran Andy Dalton signed to back up Dak Prescott, things would have to go way south before calling upon a Day 3 rookie quarterback. Of course, their current franchise quarterback was also a Day 3 rookie, and the guy before that wasn’t even drafted, so anything’s possible. But for now, expect the Nooch to just sit back and watch.
Projection: Nada, never sees the field