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
Many of us didn’t believe in the Packers’ top-ranked run defense prior to this game, citing their weak competition thus far. With 157 yards and a 5.6 average in Green Bay, Elliott left no doubt.
The Cowboys clearly felt they would be able to exert their will and did not shy away from the run early. Elliott was consistently gashing the Packers for big gains, setting up manageable second and third downs.
If you look at the last four weeks production as more of the standard, Elliott is threatening to hit the 2,000-yard mark this season. If nothing else, the Cowboys single-season mark of 1845 yards (set by DeMarco Murray in 2014) is in range.
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
We haven’t seen big, disruptive plays from the Collins the last few weeks. Last Sunday it was David Irving who was wreaking all the havoc. However, Collins was still a big part of the line rotation and helped limit Eddie Lacy to just 65 yards on 17 carries.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper was 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
Earlier in the week I jokingly said to a friend that Prescott would break Tom Brady’s record for ” most passes without an interception to start a career” and then throw one a few plays later. Sure enough I was right, and there were also two fumbles to go with it.
Bad as that sounds, it was only a minor blemish on an otherwise splendid day for Dak Prescott. He set a new career-high with three passing touchdowns and looked far better at Lambeau Field than Aaron Rodgers did. That doesn’t happen too often.
There’s plenty more on Dak’s big day at the end of the article.
Anthony Brown, CB
Easily the top defensive rookie right now, Brown has played so well that Orlando Scandrick’s return now feels more like a luxury than a necessity. He racking up tackles from the slot corner position, having 11 in Sunday’s game.
That high number of tackles came because the Packers were attacking the rookie. They went to their third receiver, Ty Montgomery, 12 times during the game. He never had a play of more than 15 yards and was limited to just a 9.8-yard average on his 10 catches. It was a lot of catches, but none of the big plays that the Packers offense is known for.
Providing sensational value for a sixth-round pick, Brown now gives the Cowboys a great rotation player even when the top three corners are healthy. That will be a major benefit as Dallas looks to keep older guys like Scandrick and Brandon Carr fresh for, hopefully, a long playoff run.
Kavon Frazier, S
Once again, Frazier was active but did not have a visible role. I thought we might get to see him a little after Barry Church went out, just in case J.J. Wilcox or Jeff Heath needed a breather. But as of yet the rookie safety hasn’t been used. 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.
Dak and Zeke do not it easy to pick one Rookie of the Week, and that’s a fantastic problem to have! For this game, I had to look at the big picture and the pressure that both guys faced going in. Therefore, I’m giving it to…
It was hard not to give it to Elliott after he set a new career-high in yards. However, you can’t dismiss the pressure that was on Prescott going into this one.
The rookie was walking into one of the NFL’s grandest and most challenging locations, Lambeau Field. He was going up against Aaron Rodgers, the first “elite” QB he’s had to play against in his young career.
Also, the conversation around who the Cowboys’ starting QB will be has to be in his mind. I don’t care how unflappable the kid seems; Dak Prescott is a 23-year-old who’s living out a lifelong fantasy. Most humans only wish they could live out their dreams, and those who do certainly never want it to end.
Given how well he played and the circumstances surrounding this critical game, I came away more impressed with Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott is fabulously living up to the expectations of the fourth-overall pick, but Prescott is defying expectations week after week.
Previous ROTW Winners
Week 5 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 4 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 3 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 2 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 1 – QB Dak Prescott