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ESPN’s Dallas Cowboys training camp prediction has rookie Sam Williams claiming a starting spot

High expectations for Dallas’ second-round pick.

NFL: JAN 16 NFC Wild Card - 49ers at Cowboys Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At long last training camp begins this week for the Dallas Cowboys which means there is a lot of work to be done.

There are many questions about this Cowboys roster and the depth at certain positions, but one thing that isn’t really up for debate is the list of starters on either side of the ball. For the most part Dallas has cemented players in every starting spot on offense and defense, it is the depth of things that is up for debate as mentioned, but that is a topic for a different day.

When it comes to this day there is seemingly thought that one rather important starting spot could feature an unexpected face when Week 1 arrives in full force. Training camp will go a long way in determining these sorts of things, but if this happens it would certainly cause some excitement.

ESPN’s Dallas Cowboys training camp prediction has rookie Sam Williams claiming a starting spot

The Cowboys will certainly have a new starter along their defensive line given that Randy Gregory left for the Denver Broncos in free agency. So while that creates an obvious void the answer to it has seemingly been veteran Dorance Armstrong, who Dallas did manage to bring back, who would inherit that position.

While conventional wisdom would suggest the job (talking about the job in title here) is in fact Armstrong’s to lose there are many who are hopeful that rookie second-round pick Sam Williams can manage to make it more of a competition. What’s more is that some believe it won’t even be that and that Williams is a sure-fire thing to start opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence this season.

During their training camp previews for every team ESPN had each of their beat writers lock down a prediction for the team they cover and for the Cowboys it was in fact Williams beating out Armstrong.

Camp prediction: Sam Williams will claim the starting defensive end spot opposite DeMarcus Lawrence as Randy Gregory’s replacement. The Cowboys’ second-round pick has all of the pass-rushing tools defensive coordinator Dan Quinn loves to work with — speed around the edge, the ability to bend, solid hands. Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. have more NFL know-how, and while being a “starter” can be overrated since Quinn likes to rotate his defensive linemen, Williams’ talent will get him on the field early. Look for him to come close to matching Gregory’s six sacks from 2022.

— Todd Archer

It wouldn’t exactly be the rarest thing in NFL history for Sam Williams to leapfrog Dorance Armstrong like this, but it isn’t common either. It is very difficult to come into the NFL and be a day one starter at defensive end but if that were to be the case then the Cowboys could certainly take an early victory lap over the top of their draft class. There is no question that it would benefit them greatly if Williams proved to be that good early on although the point about Dan Quinn utilizing waves of defensive linemen stands which means they will all get their opportunities.

The prediction here also notes that Sam Williams could “come close” to matching Randy Gregory’s sack total from last season. Six sacks is nothing to scoff at but obviously people expect more from players of legitimate caliber. It feels safe to say that six sacks for Sam Williams would be a rookie season that most would be pleased with.