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 stacks up against each other.
NT Mazi Smith (First Round)
Smith is still working his way up. Last week he came in and played 11 snaps on defense with no tackles to show for it. This shouldn’t discourage fans though as he’s playing a position that will rarely heavily feature on individual statistics. That being said he played less snaps than Week 1 and was less impactful. Let’s see how he does this week assisting in shutting down Arizona’s primary offensive threat, running back James Conner. Last week against the Giants, Conner ran for 106 yards and one touchdown.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
We wanted more from the tight end group in Week 2, and that’s exactly what we got. Last week Schoonmaker caught a pass in the redzone to score a nine-yard touchdown. Schoonmaker and Peyton Hendershot played the exact number of snaps last week. But in Week 1, Hendershot had significantly more playtime. The snap count shows that Schoonmaker is slowly taking over as the second tight end on the roster, something that was predicted to occur in the offseason.
RB Deuce Vaughn (Sixth Round)
It seemed like Vaughn was on the field for a healthy amount of time last week. He actually only played 13 snaps believe it or not, it was mostly in the first half that we saw him. The coaches saw an opportunity to utilize Vaughn early in the game where he looked to exploit the right side of the field. He ran and caught a pass for first downs, both made an impact in how the Jets adjusted defensively. This week it could be another useful tactic to have Vaughn playing on passing plays and force the Cardinals defense to account for more options coming out the backfield.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
There’s definitely huge potential in Brandon Aubrey. He’s kept fighting and stayed positive while having to play under tremendous scrutiny. Week 2 was a huge week for Aubrey as he was perfect on the day, not missing a single kick. Week 1 saw Aubrey miss an extra point, and it’s just recently come to light the refs confused the kicking balls with the standard balls, so this is something we have to account for when it comes to his first, and only, miss of the season. Let’s see if he can go consecutive games without a miss.
FB Hunter Luepke (UDFA)
Luepke had a big day being involved in supporting the run game. Against the Jets you could say he played more like a traditional fullback which is exciting to see. What was interesting to watch though was seeing him run open on the opposite side of the field to Schoonmaker on his touchdown play. Both players got open on their routes. But the play call shows the coaches willingness to draw up plays for Luepke to contribute in other ways on the offense.
OT Paris Johnson Jr. (First Round)
Arizona managed to land the sixth pick of this years draft after some trades between three teams. With that pick they took the giant offensive lineman from Ohio State, Paris Johnson Jr. His size and athleticism, along with his versatility, was what made him so exciting. He still needs to add strength to his game, but the biggest weakness this Cowboys pass rush can exploit with Johnson is his lack of experience. He only played one year for the Buckeyes at tackle, so trying to contain the onslaught of pressure from the Cowboys pass rushers will be a tough test for Johnson this week.
DE B.J. Ojulari (Second-Round)
The LSU standout didn’t have to wait long to get his name called in the draft. He’s played in rotation for the Cardinals so far and has accounted for 25 snaps this season. He’s registered one pressure in that time and his lack of playing time is due to his inconsistent defending against the run. He’s a talented pass rusher with elite levels of bend to get around the edge, but he’s still a developing defender when it comes stopping the run. If the Cardinals are playing a lot from behind, expect Ojulari to be spending extra time on the bench this week.
WR Michael Wilson (Third-Round)
We touched on Wilson during the offensive breakdown earlier in the week. He’s got a huge ceiling if he can reach that potential as a playmaker. Injuries in college have held him back the most. Last year he played just six games at Stanford and he had the same situation in 2020. In fact, the last full season Wilson played was in 2019 where he scored five touchdowns. When Wilson is given room to run with the ball in his hands he can be fantastic to watch, but the intricacies of route running need a lot of development.
QB Clayton Tune (Fifth-Round)
The early Day 3 quarterback pick that played for the Houston Cougars serves currently as the team’s third-string quarterback. Since Kyler Murray is still out, that places Tune in the backup position. His footwork is messy, he struggles when pressure gets in his face and he lacks the ability to throw with anticipation. He’s a pure development quarterback and if Joshua Dobbs goes down for any reason, this Arizona offense would be in all kinds of turmoil.
CB Kei’Trel Clark (Sixth-Round)
The Cardinals really didn’t have a choice but to throw Clark into the deep end. He’s doing as much as he can, but he’s now facing a frightening Cowboys wide receiver unit that just racked up 248 receiving yards against a good New York Jets defense. To add more problems to the defense, Arizona has found out this week they will be without their starting safety. Clark is currently allowing a passer rating of 95.8 with a completion rate of 66% for a total of 110 yards so far this season. It’s a tough start for the rookie that only looks to have it tougher this week.
DT Dante Stills (Sixth-Round)
Grabbing Stills this late in the draft was a good bargain for Arizona, with some analysts placing Stills as a borderline top-100 prospect. Athletically he’s way below average, but he’s a master with his hands and has the power to blow off blockers. Add his fluid movement skills when coming off the ball and a well-timed first step off the snap, he’s a pretty good pass rusher. But his agility, speed and lack of counters leave him with plenty of work to do in his first year. Stills was left off the field in Week 1 but found work against the Giants last week. The Cowboys inside offensive linemen should have no problem in dealing with him this week when he sees the field.
Which team has the better set of rookies?
This poll is closed