Previously we broke down both teams offense and defense for this week’s upcoming game between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. Now we dive back into the position battleground, this time looking at how each team’s rookie class stacks up against each other.
NT Mazi Smith (First Round)
Last week Smith had his best game as a Cowboy. It won’t show on stats, but he was part of the unit that reduced Rhamondre Stevenson to just 2.1 yards per carry and Ezekiel Elliott to 2.7 yards per carry. Smith only played nine snaps against the run, but each one he filled the gaps and blocked any chance for an easy open running lane. The San Francisco 49ers are averaging 153 rush yards per game, that’s third-most in the league. And their nine rushing touchdowns are second-most in the league. Stopping Christian McCaffrey is a priority and the nose tackles for Dallas will play a big role in blocking the a-gaps to slow him down.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
If Schoonmaker catches that pass in the endzone then the talk of redzone issues wouldn’t be such a hot topic. Schoonmaker represents a big target for Dak to throw in the redzone, so it might become something they continue to try the next few weeks. The focus for his development for this season needs to be his catching skills. The drop was a little unlucky, but to be a quality tight end like his draft capital would represent, he needs to make those tough catches in the future. He has a huge task this week to prove himself as the 49ers average only 30 yards per game to tight ends and have allowed only one touchdown to the tight end position.
RB Deuce Vaughn (Sixth Round)
We know Vaughn is a good player, it just seems to be he’s being utilized in an odd fashion during games. The sequence in the second quarter is a great example of this. The sequence saw Vaughn produce zero yards on a short pass that had no purpose given the Patriots had just sent their top cornerback to the locker room. That was then followed by a third-down blunder where the Patriots run a stunt that put Dak Prescott on the floor with the sack. Vaughn was completely out of his depth on the play and the series ended in a punt. We know Vaughn lacks the size to pass-block and to be placed in that position is only going to end either in injury, or worse, a Dak injury. Vaughn is a quality back, but he should only be on the field on third-down, or if the blitz is coming, use Vaughn as a quick dump off to avoid the sack.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
If you took Aubrey as your kicker on a fantasy team, don’t drop him now. He’s now made 13 field goals this season and he’s one of two players that is perfect on the year with 10 or more field goal attempts.
FB Hunter Luepke (UDFA)
The redzone efficiency is the only blemish on the Cowboys offense at the moment. But they may have found an answer on goal plays, that’s Hunter Luepke. He’s had three rush attempts this year and has averaged 4.4 yards per carry on those plays and scored one touchdown. If it’s first and goal going forward, just let that 240 pound rock-toting fullback rumble.
S Ji’Ayir Brown (Third Round)
Brown hasn’t played that much for San Francisco this season so far. But the last two weeks has seen him take more snaps progressively each game. The Penn State defensive back is extremely versatile, which is maybe his biggest trait. Playing for the Nittany Lions shows he has the skills to line up over the slot, play as a down safety or help cover the outfield. You will see him reading the quarterback and diagnosing the play well, but his problems all fall in the athletic category. He lacks speed, which is seen on tape regular (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds at the combine), and he’s also not very explosive or able to get up to defend the high ball. Another problem is due to his lack of athleticism, he locks in on the quarterback far too much as the play develops, with leads to him getting easily baited. This was the 49ers first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, which they traded up to get.
K Jake Moody (Third Round)
The 49ers next selection in the draft came 12 picks after they took Brown. They drafted Michigan kicker Jake Moody. Last season for the Wolverines, Moody appeared in all 14 games. He converted 29 field goals of 35, including ten conversions from 40-yards or more, while also adding 60-of-60 on extra points. This season he’s made all 14 extra points and all nine field goals.
WR Ronnie Bell (Seventh Round)
Bell is another Michigan Wolverines player the 49ers took in the draft, copying a Cowboys trend. He’s caught three passes this year for 31 yards, but he’s got on the score sheet once this season already. He’s pretty explosive off the line and in his breaks, but he’s not blowing you away with much else athletically. He’s a smart and efficient route-runner with smooth acceleration and when coming in and out of his breaks. But he’s not a playmaker at the NFL level. He lacks speed and agility to offer any YAC ability. He also has very little play strength which gets him knocked off routes or off the catch point when the ball gets to him.
As for the rest of San Francisco’s rookie class, tight end Cameron Latu is on injured reserve after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. is on PUP after sustaining a bone bruise on his knee before training camp. Linebacker Robert Beal Jr. is on injured reserve after suffering two hamstring injuries.
Which team has the better class of rookies?
This poll is closed
San Francisco 49ers