It is possible that you are still adjusting your sleep cycle after the Dallas Cowboys made us stay up pretty late last Friday night, but watching this team play football is such a welcome return that it is worth it.
The preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals was a costly one on the injury front as Neville Gallimore, Sean McKeon, Ty Nsekhe, and Malik Turner all popped up with something.
While we are hopeful that everyone comes back healthy as soon as possible, there were still some positive things to take away from the team’s second exhibition contest. Notably a few Cowboys rookies stood out which is a great thing to see and part of why the preseason exists.
Dallas Cowboys third-round picks stood out against the Arizona Cardinals
It was difficult to find a rookie that has popped more throughout camp and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game than Micah Parsons which certainly won’t incite any complaints. The fact that Parsons looks to be the real deal so far is the best news possible for the defense.
But we want to see other rookies perform well, too. Friday night provided opportunities for many to see a significant number of snaps. Here is how PFF graded Cowboys rookies against the Cardinals (player, PFF grade).
- Osa Odighizuwa, 81.3
- Nahshon Wright, 76.3
- Israel Mukuamu, 76.3
- Quinton Bohanna, 74.4
- Brandon Smith, 70.4
- Brenden Knox, 68.1
- Simi Fehoko, 67.4
- Jabril Cox, 66.8
- Tyler Coyle, 66.5
- Matt Farniok, 63.3
- Nick Eubanks, 62.7
- Austin Faoliu, 61.2
- JaQuan Hardy, 61.1
- Kelvin Joseph, 55.0
- Braylon Jones, 53.9
All of the players listed here played at least 16 offensive or defensive snaps, but there were four rookies who played less than that for what it’s worth: Micah Parsons, Nick Ralston, Osirus Mitchell, Artayvious Lynn.
It is not exactly encouraging to see Kelvin Joseph graded so low compared to the field, especially with Denver Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II grading at 94.8 against the Minnesota Vikings after a pick-six. Sigh.
But the Cowboys did have a rookie cornerback play well in Nahshon Wright. It wasn’t flashy, but it does seem like the team’s brain trust has hopefully found something there.
Hopefully Kelvin Joseph comes along in time, and comparing him to Patrick Surtain would hardly be fair. Ultimately the Cowboys cornerback group is depending on both Joseph and Nahshon Wright in both 2021 and beyond.
Osa Odighizuwa had the best performance of any Dallas Cowboys rookie
While the Cowboys did take Nahshon Wright in the third round of the draft, he was actually the third player that they took in the round. Chauncey Golston remains on the PUP list, but it was the round’s first Cowboys selection that flashed on Friday night - Osa Odighizuwa.
Odighizuwa not only finished the night as the top-graded Cowboys rookie, he finished the week as the ninth-highest rookie graded around the league according to PFF.
Odighizuwa got an extended run against the Cardinals, seeing 51 snaps on the day. He played up and down the line of scrimmage — including three snaps at nose tackle despite being listed at 279 pounds. Odighizuwa still more than held his own with two pressures and three run stops on the day. For a Dallas team desperately in need of defensive tackle help, Odighizuwa’s performance is a breath of fresh air.
This is perhaps the most welcome news possible given Dallas’ depth taking a momentary hit at defensive tackle with news that Neville Gallimore is going to miss 4-6 weeks with an elbow injury. Seeing Odighizuwa prosper on top of Micah Parsons playing well and Nahshon Wright showing promise is very welcome news.
Late in the game against Arizona, Odighizuwa tore through the line of scrimmage with incredible ease. I’m talking about serious ease.
As mentioned, the opportunities are going to be there for Odighizuwa in the short-term. If he continues to build on Friday night’s performance it could add significant juice to the overall rotation along the defensive line (plus seeing Quinton Bohanna graded just a bit behind him is also very nice).