Every week we’ll be looking at the Cowboys drafted rookies and seeing what impact, if any, they had on the previous game. At the end we’ll name a “Rookie of the Week” for the standout performer.
Until Tony Romo returns, it is likely that this year’s Rookie of the Week feature will be an ongoing battle between Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Hopefully, one of the defensive players will make a big play here or there to spice things up.
Here’s a summary of the performances from all nine of the Cowboys drafted rookies:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
After two weeks of wondering when the fourth-overall pick would have his breakout game, now you have to wonder when he’ll ever stop!
Elliott’s 134 yards on the ground, his third-straight game with over 130 yards, kept him in the league-wide lead for 2016. An additional 37 yards receiving made it his best game yet in total yardage. With two rushing touchdowns, it was also Zeke’s first game with multiple scores.
After running wild against “soft” opponents, Elliott was supposed to face a greater test against the Bengals’ front seven. Instead, he made them look just as pedestrian as the Bears, 49ers. With this stellar offensive line leading the way, Elliott could be threatening some of the all-time numbers in team and NFL rookie history.
Jaylon Smith, LB
Smith remains on the Non-Football Injury List and it is still unknown if he will play at all for the Cowboys in 2016.
Maliek Collins, DT
It was a quiet individual day for Collins; just one tackle and one QB hit to his name. However, the Dallas d-line had a breakout performance with four sacks and nine hits on Andy Dalton, plus other pressure. Collins, still starting at DT, was a part of facilitating those numbers for his teammates.
As expected, Collins remained a starter despite DeMarcus Lawrence‘s return. It appears that Tyrone Crawford, at least in the base defense, will remain the strong side end. If Terrell McClain continues to play at the level we saw against Cincinnati, Collins should have a lot of play-making opportunities going forward.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper has been placed on Injured Reserve with ongoing back issues. He began to miss time early in the preseason and has never been able to return to practice. The end result is, essentially, a redshirt season for the fourth-round pick.
Dak Prescott, QB
Although he remains without an interception, Prescott finally turned the ball over with his first career fumble. Doug Free got beat by Carlos Dunlap and Prescott, looking to his left, lost the ball on a blindside hit.
This was the one negative in an otherwise brilliant day for the rookie sensation. Prescott threw a touchdown and ran for another while completing 75% of his throws. He continues to lead the team by example, and it’s clear that his teammates are rallying around him.
With the no-interception streak still going, Dak only need eights more throws to pass Tom Brady for most attempts without a pick to start a career. Brady also holds the record for most attempts without a pick at any point; a whopping 335 passes.
Anthony Brown, CB
Brown continues to impress as the slot corner. He is making plays and has yet to show much, if any, degree of liability. The sixth-round pick was credited with seven tackles, putting him third behind Sean Lee and Barry Church on the day.
Brown’s ability to perform this early is remarkable, and perhaps an underrated storyline in the Cowboys’ 4-1 start. He has helped them overcome Orlando Scandrick’s injury in a way that nobody could have anticipated. Best of all, his play allow Dallas to give Scandrick all of the time he needs so that he can make a successful, lasting return to action.
Kavon Frazier, S
Frazier active for the game but was not visible on defense or special teams. The rookie continues to remain a non-entity as the fifth man on Dallas’ safety depth chart. He will likely be a healthy scratch once some of the injured players return to duty.
Darius Jackson, RB
Jackson was inactive. It will be hard for Jackson to make the 46-man game day roster as long as the Cowboys choose to make both Rod Smith and Keith Smith, fullbacks and special teams players, active each week.
Rico Gathers, TE
Gathers is still on the team’s practice squad; the only drafted player to not make the 53-man roster this season.
With a monster game overall and one of the single-biggest offense plays the Cowboys have had in some time, the “Rookie of the Week” goes to…
Elliott’s 60-yard touchdown run was arguably the backbreaker for Cincinnati. Down 21-0 at the start of the second half, the Bengals had driven into field-goal range but missed the kick. On the very next play, Elliott took the ball to the house.
The 60-yard score was the longest running play for the Cowboys since 2014. It was actually Joseph Randle who had a 65-yarder that year. Elliott’s run was longer than any by Darren McFadden or DeMarco Murray since 2011.
Previous ROTW Winners
Week 4 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 3 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 2 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 1 – QB Dak Prescott