Previously we broke down both team’s offense and defense for the upcoming game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. 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)
Smith came in for 18 plays last week which some people feel isn’t enough. But with the game getting out of hand and the L.A. Rams resorting to a heavy passing game to try and reduce the deficit, that meant Smith’s skill set wasn’t something they needed to lean on. He recorded two tackles and made one good defensive stop on a running play, so it wasn’t all bad from Smith. This week, facing an Eagles team that loves to run the ball, Smith will play an important role. Any run that comes through the inside is going to face Smith and/or Johnathan Hankins as both will play a lot of rotation. Of the 257 rush attempts by the Eagles this season, 109 of them come through the A and B gaps. That means the Cowboys nose tackles will have a heavy workload this week.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
Everyone remembers Schoonmaker’s catch last week. Mostly because he’s been fairly quiet in the passing game, but also because he showed good hustle on the play, running for 13 yards and a first-down. The majority of his game was spent on running plays and assisting with blocking. Facing one of the more productive run-stopping defense’s this week, setting up in 12-man formation will be a common look this week for Dallas. He may not get much receiving work, but his run blocking will be much needed.
OT Asim Richards (Fifth Round)
Chuma Edoga left the game with injury and the coaches sent Richards out and play at left tackle to close the game. It wasn’t perfect and clearly there’s some technique to clean up, but he didn’t kill the offense or give anyone a reason to be majorly concerned about him. He filled a need during the game and he didn’t cause an issue. Couldn’t ask for more from a backup.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
After his Week 8 game, Aubrey won NFC Special Team player of the Week. At this stage he looks like he could make the Pro Bowl this year, and that’s hard to argue. If he makes his next field goal, he will overtake a record from 2015 by Travis Coons where he made 18 straight field goals to start his career. Aubrey matched that record last week, so he needs to make one more and be the new record holder.
DT Jalen Carter (First Round)
He was one of the most talked about players in the draft, and rightly so. He’s an athletic monster with perfect technique and this season he’s already looked impressive in games. A lot of Georgia’s success last year that saw them win a National Championship was in part due to the work of players like Jalen Carter. He’s shown to be capable of winning against NFL guards so far and he’s been finishing on plays once he’s gotten into the backfield. His hand usage can be violent or subtle, but the feet are always active and searching for an opening. He left the game early last week against Washington due to a back injury.
LB Nolan Smith (First Round)
The Eagles second pick of the first round was spent on another Georgia defender, Nolan Smith. So far this season, Nolan has played 47 snaps on defense and in that time he’s made four tackles. Smith is known for playing the game with reckless abandon, sometimes leading to injury, and that’s been the case so far for the talented linebacker. He’s played sparingly due to picking up a shoulder injury early in the season and has yet to make a splash Eagles fans were hoping for. He’s a brilliant chaser of the ball and very aggressive, but how much time he gets this week is unsure.
S Sydney Brown (Third Round)
Due to injuries and issues with the Eagles defensive backs, Brown has seen an uptick in snaps the last couple of weeks. Up until Week 7, Brown had a total of 16 snaps, then in the last two week he’s played a total of 86 defensive snaps. He’s allowing 72% of targets that go his way for a reception, and he’s allowed one touchdown in that time. He’s much better at run stopping than he is in coverage, last week making an impressive six defensive stops. If Dak sees him covering the outfield, he should take his chances and air it out to the receivers in his vicinity.
(The Eagles other draft picks, QB Tanner McKee, OT Tyler Steen, CB Kelee Ringo and DT Moro Ojomo count for a total of nine snaps this season).
Which team had the better draft?
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