The highlight of the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason so far has been their ballyhooed rookie talent acquired in the 2020 NFL Draft. But that high praise comes at a price for the players; they all now face the burden of living up to those high expectations.
CeeDee Lamb was a player nobody thought would drop to the 17th overall pick. Trevon Diggs was a guy Dallas might have taken in the 1st Round. Neville Gallimore was a potential 2nd-Round pick who fell to the third… and so on and so forth.
This seemed to be the prevailing theme of the Cowboys’ 2020 draft; every player was a steal and a stud. QB Ben DiNucci, taken in the 7th Round, is the only guy who didn’t get this kind of valuation.
But heck, even he’s being talked about as a potential starter for Dallas this season.
The hype train is definitely at full steam right now with these rookies and that’s great for this time of year. But if things don’t go as wonderfully for these players as everyone expects, then that train could very easily get derailed.
It’s hard enough to live up to the normal expectations that come from where you’re drafted. Taco Charlton just suffered through that, not even finishing his third season in Dallas before being cast off as a 1st-Round bust.
We’re seeing it this year with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, 2nd and 3rd-Round picks from that same 2017 class, probably being discarded soon for fresher faces. And how about Trysten Hill, last year’s 2nd-Round pick, who people already want to dump for Neville Gallimore?
Neither Taco, Chido, or Trysten were seen as steals for where they were drafted but still they’ve struggled to satisfy fans and analysts. Imagine how much tougher it will be for these 2020 rookies given the way they’ve been hyped up.
Just think about Trevon Diggs for a minute. He’s joining the Cowboys with some already declaring him as the best cornerback on the roster; the immediate replacement for Byron Jones.
Diggs went 51st overall in the draft. Sure, Dallas’ proclamation that they would have taken him in the 1st Round is encouraging. But does it concern you at all that Trevon was still available 34 picks later, or that four other cornerbacks came off the board between the Cowboys’ 1st and 2nd-Round picks?
Sometimes a position is loaded and 1st-Round talent falls because of those numbers. This may be the case with the CB position in 2020, but that’s not the only reason Trevon Diggs was available at the 51st pick.
I’m not saying that Diggs won’t emerge as a longtime starter for the Cowboys, but can’t you see how the expectation has become somewhat imbalanced?
How about Gallimore at defensive tackle, who hasn’t even taken a practice rep yet but has already leapfrogged Trysten Hill in most people’s eyes. Is that really fair?
How about Tyler Biadasz, a 4th-Round center who some are already trying to push as the next Travis Frederick because they played at the same school?
Or what about Bradlee Anae, who fell all the way to the 5th Round, and yet many are quickly putting ahead of Dorance Armstrong and Joe Jackson? They were 4th and 5th-Round picks themselves; who’s to say Anae is automatically better?
I’m not saying this a new phenomenon. Over-hyping your latest crop of rookies is an NFL offseason tradition. But this 2020 class for the Cowboys seems to be getting a more extreme version of that treatment than most.
Obviously, I hope they all live up to these expectations. It could push Dallas to a Super Bowl and makes this the greatest draft class in team history if they do.
But as we move forward from speculation to true evidence, let’s be ready to come back down to earth and treat these players reasonably in our analysis and reactions. It’s hard enough entering the NFL during a pandemic and missing the usual offseason practice time.
Joining the Dallas Cowboys, especially with with supercharged hype and hope swirling around you, only makes things more difficult.