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)
The game script took a turn last week which meant Smith had to take a lesser role than he’s been used to the last few weeks. The setback isn’t major for Smith, but it puts a block on the incremental rise he was enjoying the past month. Stopping the run is extremely important when playing the Eagles, which means a guy like Smith will need to play a more important role. His biggest roadblock to taking on more snaps though is how well Johnathan Hankins has been playing. Expect some added snaps this week for Smith against the Eagles, but expect them to be in rotation behind Hankins.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
It’s been a tough road for Schoonmaker to this point. But the last three games has seen him get far more playing time. Four of his seven receptions have come in the last three weeks, and 47 of his 61 yards have come in that same time. It’s not a breathtaking stat line, but it shows he’s getting the ball a lot more at a time when Jake Ferguson has exploded onto the scene. Schoonmaker has more of a consistent snap count the last month and that’s seen him become more consistent as a blocker.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
Three-for-three on extra points and four-for-four on field goals last week. In a close game like it was last week against Seattle, having a reliable kicker can be the difference in getting victory. That was the case last week and there should be no doubt Aubrey makes it to the Pro Bowl this year.
FB Hunter Luepke (UDFA)
Luepke spent another game as a pure blocking fullback and he did exactly what was required. There’s nothing specific to report on Luepke for now other than what he’s doing on offense is helping in the run game. And what he does on special teams only increases his value to the team.
DT Jalen Carter (First Round)
You could argue Carter should win Defensive Rookie of the Year; he has played to expectation this year. If he doesn’t win the much coveted award though it will come down to off-field issues. That was something that raised its head again back in November and also in the form of comments he made on Instagram last week. Ignoring the off-field problems with Carter though, he’s a great defender and the last time he played Dallas he registered a sack and two defensive stops. But on the flip side, his last sack in a game was the one he made against Dallas. Since then things have slowed down for Carter.
LB Nolan Smith (First Round)
Smith has played a total of 83 snaps so far this season and made nine tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. It was expected that Smith was set to be Haason Reddick’s replacement, but so far things aren’t going quite to plan. Positional depth has played a huge factor in Smith not having more production, and it’s way too early to come to any conclusion whether this was a pick by Philadelphia that was made too early.
S Sydney Brown (Third Round)
The defensive back unit for the Eagles has been a huge weakness this season. Their third-round safety out Illinois has been one of those issues. Brown had his sink-or-swim moment during the middle of the season, and since then he’s seen his snap count get progressively less each week. In pass coverage he’s allowed a passer rating of 145.4, and as a run blocker he’s had two bad missed tackles. To make matters worse for Brown, he had his worse game of the season so far when he played against Dallas. He allowed all four targets to go for a reception and allowed a touchdown in the redzone that KaVontae Turpin made in the second quarter.
CB Eli Ricks (UDFA)
As mentioned already, the Eagles defensive backs have struggled this year, which meant they had to rummage in their roster bag to try something. Eli Ricks saw his snap count rise when he had to play an extended role against Dallas in Week 9. He allowed all four targets to be caught that game and joins the rest of the Eagles secondary trying to find some sort of consistency this year. He has yet to make an interception this season and is allowing a passer rating of 101.7.
Which team has the better draft class?
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