Things in the National Football League can move quickly and if you blink sometimes you miss a lot. While it feels like only yesterday that the 2018 NFL Draft took place at AT&T Stadium, the reality is that the players taken there are suddenly entering contract years with their respective teams.
For the Dallas Cowboys the situation is a bit unique as all of the players who they took that year that are still on the team are entering contract seasons given that they declined the fifth-year option for Leighton Vander Esch. It’s questionable whether Vander Esch will be on this team in 2022, and decisions will have to be made on the rest of the crew
Dallas had a sneaky productive draft three years ago, but you can’t keep everybody. Michael Gallup’s latest comments about his contract-year status got us thinking which 2018 Cowboys’ picks will be on this team next season?
The answer is a bit tough to figure out.
Which 2018 Dallas Cowboys draft picks will be on the team in 2022?
In assessing the Cowboys draft picks from three years ago we first have to acknowledge which players are no longer on the team. All the best to Mike White, Chris Covington, and Bo Scarbrough.
The rest of the 2018 Cowboys draft class is still going strong and some of them have had some really great moments for the team over the course of the last three seasons.
2018 Dallas Cowboys draft picks on the team entering the 2021 season
- Leighton Vander Esch (1)
- Connor Williams (2)
- Michael Gallup (3)
- Dorance Armstrong (4)
- Dalton Schultz (4)
- Cedrick Wilson (6)
There are really three categories that we can put these players into as far as potential to be on the Cowboys roster in 2022. Some are probably gone (although for different reasons), others are potentially going to return, and some are true and total wildcards.
Probably Gone: Leighton Vander Esch and Michael Gallup
While anything can happen in the NFL, the likelihood is that both Leighton Vander Esch and Michael Gallup will be elsewhere next season. The Cowboys have already drawn a line in the sand with the former in that they declined his fifth-year option, they can say all they want about having “plans” for Vander Esch in the future, but the drafting of both Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox in conjunction with the declined option tell us it’s unlikely.
Michael Gallup is in a different situation than Vander Esch in that he is likely going to be in another uniform next year, but because he is likely going to have a lot of offers that the Cowboys will not be able to match. Gallup is an ascending player in the NFL and is in a position to potentially have one of his best seasons to date. All of these things are good for his bank account. It will hurt to see him leave, but you can’t keep everybody.
Potentially Going to Return: Connor Williams and Dalton Schultz
Some players in the NFL like Michael Gallup are obviously on track to earn big-time contracts next year, but others will have seasons in 2021 that catapult them to the forefront of dollar signs and bags of cash.
Connor Williams has been a decent contributor for the Cowboys offensive line since jumping in as a rookie, but he hasn’t experienced the same success as other would-be offensive linemen that were anointed by the team early (that is an awfully high bar to clear to be fair). Dallas generally rewards players with second contracts after truly elite play which is something that Williams hasn’t demonstrated yet although he obviously could this season. Having Tyron Smith back next to him certainly won’t hurt.
Last season gave Dalton Schultz an opportunity to prove his own worth and he certainly ran with it. It seems that Schultz is capable of being a team’s top tight end, and in today’s NFL there is a massive gap from the very top (your Travis Kelce and George Kittle types) and the rest of the field. Perhaps Schultz can get there, but the opportunities might not necessarily go his way in 2021 given that Blake Jarwin will be back.
It is possible that a lack of play time leads the rest of the league to sort of overlook Schultz after the 2021 season, but that same idea could also work against the Cowboys. If Schultz feels like he is truly capable of starting he could want to leave next offseason for a better opportunity. It is tough to predict.
The Wildcards: Dorance Armstrong and Cedrick Wilson
Jerry Jones has spoken glowingly about Dorance Armstrong before which certainly might be a factor with regards to a future spot on this roster. Still, though, it is tough to imagine Armstrong getting the amount of opportunities that would justify keeping him next season during this year’s campaign, not to mention that the Cowboys have other young defensive ends to lean on in Bradlee Anae and Chauncey Golston.
The other side of this coin is back at the wide receiver spot in Cedrick Wilson. A fan-favorite and former pet cat of many, Wilson has had some great moments with the Cowboys, but there isn’t a lot of priority on keeping him in 2022 at the present time. Given that Gallup will likely be gone there will be room for someone else on the future roster to see some opportunities, but there are also going to be other contenders there like current rookie Simi Fehoko.
We are still a long ways away from the Cowboys having to make decisions on any of these players, although things could obviously change at any point. Take Michael Gallup for example, the Cowboys could potentially look to trade him away if they think they can’t keep him in 2022. This is an idea that we recently discussed on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel (subscribe right here so you have access to all of our videos).
Of course, all of these decisions will be easier to make if the Cowboys do something extraordinary like win the Super Bowl in 2021. Anything is possible as we’ve said several times today, perhaps the ultimate anything is headed the team’s way this year.