I am back. After a few week hiatus I am here to bring you more fun and knowledgeable information about the 2016 NFC East Champions, the Dallas Cowboys.
With training camp just around the corner, and plenty of rumors floating around the team, I thought, what better way to come back than with a projection for all of the Cowboys rookie draft picks stats (that I have making the 53 man roster) for their first season.
Taco Charlton – DE
There is no secret the Cowboys pass rush has been very weak since the departure of future Hall of Famer, DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys have tried throwing assets at the position the last few years, but none succeeded.
They traded up into the top of the second round in the 2014 NFL Draft to land talented pass rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence has struggled staying healthy over his last three seasons with the team and hasn’t been the War Daddy pass rusher Jerry Jones was hoping to get. Greg Hardy was the first try at striking gold in free agency, but his attitude and locker room demeanor had him walking out the door before he got in. Last year in free agency the Cowboys signed journeyman Benson Mayowa to a rather large contract. Mayowa started the season out slow last year but finished the season leading the team in sacks with six.
Enter Taco Charlton. If you have been following my work on CowboysNation.com or my NFL Draft Analysis on SportsTalkLine.com you probably know I wasn’t very high on Taco Charlton through the draft process. The Cowboys have plenty of big, long, nonathletic defensive ends and I didn’t think adding another to that list would make much of a difference when it comes down to getting pressure when it counts. But like this team seems to do more often than not, they selected just that guy.
Now I’m not here to bash the guy, because I think he’s going to be a very productive player and potential future starter at left defensive end for years to come. Charlton is extremely good against the run, and while he isn’t a great pass rusher, the tools are their to be developed. Taco Charlton will get plenty of opportunities to make a difference early and often. Charlton will likely be your opening day starter at one or the other DE position come opening day against the New York Giants.
Tackles For Loss: 4
Forced Fumbles: 2
Chidobe Awuzie – DB
The Cowboys watched almost all of their opening day starters in the secondary walk in free agency this past offseason. Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox all signed with new teams and left plenty of voids for the Dallas front office to fill.
It didn’t take them long to start pulling the trigger. Nolan Carroll was the teams biggest signing of the offseason signing a 3 year, $10 million deal. After the Carroll signing not much happened until draft day when the Cowboys used almost half of their draft picks on defensive backs.
Chidobe Awuzie was the first of the four and was an absolute steal at pick #60 in my opinion. Having the versatility to play corner, safety, and nickle and do all three at a high level is one of the many reasons the Cowboys front office sent in his card on draft night. Awuzie may not be asked to start right away but don’t be surprised to see him in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Tackles For Loss: 2
Jourdan Lewis – DB
A guy not many had in the discussion for the Cowboys due to his pending domestic violence investigation ended up getting selected in the third round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Lewis, if all legal issues check out again will (also) be an absolute steal for the Cowboys. He played outside corner and nickel at the University of Michigan and was easily the best nickel corner in the draft in my opinion. Lewis is undersized but you wouldn’t notice it by the way he plays. He loves to get his hands dirty in run support and is one of the better cover corners coming into the league as a rookie.
This projection is tough because we aren’t sure if Jourdan Lewis will be used as a nickel CB or a base CB. Once we figure that out we will have a better idea of how many snaps he will play a game. But don’t worry Cowboys Nation, Lewis will see the field a lot this year, and like Awuzie, may end up taking a veterans starting job.
Tackles For Loss: 3
Ryan Switzer – WR
Another pickI think caught a lot of Cowboys Nation by surprise. He was compared to Cole Beasley in the pre-draft process so why in the world would the Cowboys need another one of those? Simple, Switzer can be used in similar ways, but also can do a little bit more than Beasley. Ryan has a more developed down the field route tree than Cole does and can even be used as a running back in certain situations (jet sweep, tosses, read-options).
The former Tar Heel is also likely to take over as the teams starting returner, and boy did the team need an upgrade at that position. Switzer is walking into a pretty deep wide receiver room and will have to earn his spot, but just the special teams upgrade in itself leads me to believe that he is in for a big season.
Receiving Touchdowns: 4
Return Touchdowns: 2
Xavier Woods – S
Xavier Woods was a pick that many fans and writers following the team were screaming for in round four. Somehow, the Cowboys were able to trade up into the sixth round to grab the talented safety from Louisiana Tech. Woods is the full package at possessing the range and speed to be able to play as a single high safety, but also have the strength and awareness to play as a strong safety.
Woods production at Louisiana Tech was outstanding finishing his senior season with 84 tackles, 6.5 which were for loss, 3 sacks, 5 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. Impressive to say the least, and this Dallas defense needs a player in the secondary who has a nose for the football. Xavier Woods is just the man for the job.
Woods will likely play in a safety rotation with Jeff Heath, Byron Jones and Kavon Frazier. We may even see snaps with three safeties on the field together and Woods being one of them. While this will likely limit his playing time I still expect Xavier Woods to contribute a lot in his rookie season.
Tackles For Loss: 2.5
Marquez White – CB
White was the second of two selections the Cowboys had in the sixth round, and I have him making my final 53 man roster as the sixth corner on the team. With Chidobe Awuzie’s versatility to play safety and the still looming domestic investigation for Jourdan Lewis and the DWI arrest that landed Nolan Carroll a night in jail about a month ago, it would be smart for the Cowboys to cover themselves and go deep at corner.
Marquez is a raw player that showed flashes in his final two years at Florida State. White is athletic and has shown that he can be a very sticky cover corner. With still a long way to go, but having enough talent in front of him on the depth chart, Marquez White will most likely have a quiet rookie year, but have an expanded role next season with the team.
Tackles For Loss: 0.5
Noah Brown – WR
Another position I see the Cowboys going deeper at then usual is wide receiver. Noah Brown is the perfect guy to stash at the bottom of the depth chart and develop. Brown was supposed to be the go to guy at Ohio State last season, but really struggled to get much going. Can we blame that on all the other offensive weapons the team had or the spotty quarterback play? Maybe, but nonetheless everyone expected more from Noah Brown.
Brown has a similar style of play to a guy like Dez Bryant, physical, angry, and aggressive are just a few of the adjectives that describe the rookies skill set. While his production wasn’t great last year, he did show the ability to absolutely dominate a game (Oklahoma). With the injuries that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler have dealt with in previous years, look for Noah Brown to be kept on the final roster to develop and for insurance in case someone goes down.
Joey Ivie – DT
A player I didn’t study at all in the pre-draft process that I have grown to love when diving into his film more after he was drafted. Ivie isn’t a dominant player that will take over a game or stuff a stat sheet. What he will do is do his job and give you 110% on every down.
Ivie is a penetrating 3-Technique in Dallas’s 4-3 defense and would likely backup Maliek Collins and could provide some depth at the 1-Technique as well. Ivie is another guy who may be a game day inactive most of the time but will likely see playing time due to injury before the year is over.
If he doesn’t make the final roster, don’t be surprised to see him on the practice squad this year before battling for a roster spot next season.
Tackles For Loss: 0
Forced Fumbles: 0
This rookie class will be asked to contribute a lot early and often. Are they up for the job? We don’t know yet, but the attitudes of all these young guys seem to right on par with what Jason Garrett has been preaching for years. Compete. Compete. Compete.
Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147