Previously we broke down the defense for this week’s upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys, now we dive back into the position battleground, this time looking at how each team’s rookie class stack up against each other.
NT Mazi Smith (First Round)
Things have been mixed for Smith during his rookie preseason. What’s been clear is two very obvious points. Firstly he’s incredibly powerful and can dominate with pure strength and brute force. Secondly, he lacks pro-level technique. We’ve seen hand placement be an issue, how to disengage on reach blocks, and also trying to clear his man unbalanced or on one leg. This is all coachable though and we’ve seen signs he’s picking all this up.
For rookie defensive linemen, it takes time for them to develop and grow into the role, and for Smith that’s no different. Once he learns these techniques and understands leverage and angles, then look out. He will be a force offensive linemen will struggle to contain. The good news is he can learn from veteran nose tackle Johnathan Hankins. And the Giants offensive linemen that play inside are all average blockers at best. How many snaps Smith will get all depends on how much the coaches feel he can handle, but also how well Hankins is holding up facing Saquon Barkley and a mobile quarterback.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
It’s been a tough start for Schoonmaker who spent the first portion of this offseason rehabbing from his foot injury. But he’s getting up to speed and his last preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders should give him a confidence boost. With both Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot known commodities on this offense, they will look to take more of the snap share this week while they ease Schoonmaker into the offense. But there’s no doubt as the season moves on we will see more of the Michigan standout and slowly get closer to an equal snap share with Ferguson.
RB Deuce Vaughn (Sixth Round)
Here’s the people’s choice award for this season. Every Cowboy fan is rooting for Vaughn to have a good season. There’s no better way to start for Vaughn than against the Giants who allowed an average of 144 rush yards per game, which was the sixth-worst last year. This all boils down to snap allocation among the Cowboys running backs. If Tony Pollard is having a field day then the coaches will more than likely stick with the hot hand. Rico Dowdle will do his part to help relieve Pollard when needed, or when the offense needs a battering ram to run the ball. So for Vaughn, he will take the field when the coaches see the opportunity. When he gets that opportunity though, get ready for plenty of crowd noise and “Deuce” chants.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
Technically he’s a rookie so he will feature weekly this season. With so many questions with Aubrey it’s tough to talk about him this early. All we can hope for is he maintains composure and does his job. How often the coaches decide to go for it on fourth down will tell us how confident the coaches are in him. But backing themselves into a corner this way can sometimes be a blessing. By giving them no choice than to keep the offense on field could result in positive results. But this is only speculation as we have no idea how Aubrey will perform when the bright lights come on. We could be eating our words like we did with Brett Maher for a section of the regular season last year.
CB Deonte Banks (First Round)
Banks gets thrown into the fire for his first competitive NFL game. He’s going to be lining up as the outside corner, meaning he’ll have to face the full Cowboys WR corps. Banks definitely has the speed and explosiveness to keep up with a guy like Brandin Cooks, he clocked a 40-time at the combine of 4.35. But Cooks is more than just a straight line runner, he runs more than just nine routes. Banks has always been susceptible to double moves and reacting to head fakes. Also his back peddle can leave him unbalanced when facing faster receivers like Cooks. Banks has everything you look for in height, size and athleticism to be an early-round cornerback in the draft, but he needs more instinctual play and that only comes with time and experience. His lack of production in college is testament to that.
C John Michael Schmitz (Second Round)
There was more than a handful of Cowboys fans wanting this guy to be a name Dallas called during the draft. He was one of the premium inside offensive linemen in this year’s draft and watching his tape you can see why. He anchors well from a solid foundation, shows a good ability to react with an intelligent understanding of the play, and also is a technician with his hands. His issues came with arm length, hand size and his ability to hold up in pass protection. He’s physical and aggressive enough in the run game, but in pass protection he can get forced out of position by faster pass rushers. He often loses the battle with slow foot speed.
WR Jalin Hyatt (Third Round)
The Giants needed receiver talent badly, so in the draft they went for a guy with elite speed who can dominate secondaries. But there is a problem. If you go back and watch Tennessee Volunteer football last year, Hyatt was always running the same route on a spread offense that allowed him a free release and plenty of runway. In the NFL, where cornerbacks are more athletic, safeties are smarter and the windows to throw close quickly, Hyatt needs to find something more than just running go-routes hoping his speed will get him open. No doubt he will win some of those races and make receptions for explosive plays. But being a one-trick pony in NFL never works for long, and this has been seen many times before.
CB Tre Hawkins (Sixth Round)
With the 209th pick, the Giants went and got their second defensive back in the draft with Tre Hawkins. To call this draft pick a gamble seems obvious to point out as a sixth-round selection, but he truly is. The Giants took him purely based on traits, and that’s a sensible plan with late Day 3 draft picks. To start off he played JUCO football in Texas for Trinity Valley Community College before playing for Old Dominion, where he played three seasons at cornerback. He has the top-end speed to play the position in the NFL, and at 6-foot-2 with 32-inch arms he checks a lot of boxes physically. His issues come with below average lateral agility which will constantly place him in recovery and have to play catch up with receivers. Hawkins will also get handsy, but that improved in his final year at Old Dominion. His biggest problem though is with his play recognition. Whether it’s CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks or Michael Gallup, we should expect them to take full advantage of this matchup and stress this rookie cornerback to his limit.
Which team has the better class of rookies?
This poll is closed
New York Giants