Cowboys rookies: Midseason grades for Tyler Smith, Jalen Tolbert and more

    With the (6-2) on bye, it feels weird not having to stress about on a Sunday. While they did need the bye to heal from the knicks and knacks they suffered through the first part of the season, I feel “naked” that the Boys aren't playing today.

    However, it's all good. I can watch other games throughout the day and mentally prepare for their showdown with the next week.

    But to not get too ahead of myself, and to shift topics from rambling on about their bye and their matchup with Mr. Discount Double Check, next week, I wanted to focus on something else.

    And that's midseason grades for the rookies.

    Out of the nine guys drafted, five have seen significant snaps. With the other four, one player has had trouble finding playing time (Jalen Tolbert), one got waived (), and two landed on the IR ( and ).

    Additionally, I will drop grades on the four undrafted that got the most hype entering this season. Check them out below.

    Tyler Smith: A-

    On draft night, the Cowboys got criticized for picking OT in the first round. Smith, who was seen as a Day Two type of guy, was known as a mauler in the run game and for his “grown-man strength,” but higher-rated players were there for the Cowboys when it was their pick.

    Although people swore the team would regret picking Smith, the tackle has proved the doubters wrong and has been one of the team's best offensive linemen. Initially, Smith was going to get eased into the , but when went down, he got thrown into the fire.

    And so far, he hasn't let the pressure eat him alive. While he has given up four and needs to cut down on his penalties (seven), it's looking like the team hit gold on another talented lineman, as he will likely be one of their main guys of the future.

    Sam Williams: A-

    Before the season started, I predicted DE would be the team's best rookie. While Smith currently has the over him for that title, Williams is quickly rising, and as a bonus — he's making the team and fans forget about former DE Randy Gregory.

    Williams still has a long way to go in the development stage, but he has been a freak of nature every time he was on the field in the first half of the season. But, once he reaches his full potential, the pairing of -Williams rushing on each side is fun to imagine.

    Jalen Tolbert: F

    This grading hurts. I was on the boat that wide receiver Jalen Tolbert would be a massive weapon for the team this year, but he has been disappointing. It's concerning that his lack of development isn't there yet at the midpoint of the season, but he still has a chance to turn things around.

    While he won't find any playing time soon (barring an ), Tolbert will likely finish with an F-grade. But I hope he can find his way onto the field next season and work on his craft during the . The talent is there, but I hope the Cowboys don't get impatient and let him go too soon.

    Jake Ferguson: B+

    Many people speculated that TE would replace this offseason, but once Schultz came back on the — Ferguson was an afterthought. While he ultimately landed the backup gig, you figured Ferguson would see limited snaps.

    But as we all saw, Schultz got banged up early in the season, and he and TE Peyton Hendershot (more on him later) got some run, and the tight-end position looks promising for the future.

    A viable catcher and blocker, Ferguson has two touchdowns on the season. If the team moves on from Schultz, Ferguson is the perfect guy to slide into the starting role. Plus, he already has touchdown celebrations like this below. How can you not like the kid?

    Matt Waletzko: C, borderline-B

    It's unfortunate that Tackle Matt Waletzko suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, as he looked promising and was shaping up to be the team's starting swing tackle. For now, I went with a C, borderline B, because he hasn't seen the field, and it's unknown how he will look next year.

    The body size and athleticism are there, but we will have to wait a year to see how good he is.

    Damone Clark: C

    For a guy who wasn't expected to play this year, it was cool to see LB Damone Clark take snaps last week against the Chicago Bears. Clark, projected to see playing time only on special teams, got thrown into the fire when Anthony Barr went down.

    His highlight play came when he chased down Bears quarterback Justin Fields. An overall solid debut, but it will be interesting to see how much playing time he will now get.

    DaRon Bland: B

    Entering this season, had a lot of buzz around him, and some people predicted he could crack the starting lineup. While CB Jourdan Lewis held the starting gig over him, once Lewis went down with a season-ending injury, people saw it as a “blessing in disguise.”

    While we never wish any injury on a player, Bland now gets the opportunity to prove his worth, and if he balls out, it may be the end of Lewis' tenure with the Cowboys. A lengthy, physical player, Bland has shown off his ability to cover wideouts and be a critical playmaker for the Cowboys' .

    Devin Harper: INC

    LB Devin Harper has yet to take the field, as he landed on the IR with Achilles tendinitis. He displayed eye-popping athleticism at Oklahoma State and can play on special teams. But for now, we have to wait till his return.

    UDFAs: Alec Lindstrom, Markquese Bell, Peyton Hendershot, and Malik Davis

    These four guys were arguably the most notable names coming out of , as each had a shot to land significant playing time. Starting with , there was buzz that he could be the team's starting center.

    But so far this season, he hasn't seen the field much. I'm giving him an incomplete grade.

    Shifting to Bell, people saw him as a guy who could climb the quickly and get into the rotation. However, the safeties have played solid this year, and there isn't room for significant playing time for Bell.

    It doesn't mean he's not talented, but he will be a critical contributor in the future. I'm giving another incomplete grade.

    Hendershot and Davis are the only two undrafted free agents who have seen a good amount of snaps, and during their time, they have made the most of it.

    With Hendershot, he's another pass catcher in the TE room, and he and Ferguson are shaping out as the tight ends of the future. Shifting to Davis, he showed promise in the preseason, but in his limited snaps during the regular season — he displayed that he's a viable runner.

    While I'm not calling for him to be the starter, he could see his role increase next offseason if the team doesn't re-sign or if they move on from .

    The two get B's for their performances.

    Rocky Garza Jr
    Rocky Garza Jr
    Rolling with the Boyz since 96'. Chop up sports with me on Twitter @rockssjr.


    Are the 2022 Cowboys better than the 2021 Cowboys?

    This topic should be interesting. I know that the...

    Do the Cowboys really need Odell Beckham Jr?

    Free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. is set to...

    How the NFC East went from Least to Beast

    The NFC East has been considered the worst division...

    Cowboys penalty problem might cut their season short again

    The Dallas Cowboys have put themselves in a spot...


    Daily Cowboys News in Your Inbox
    Your email address:*
    Please enter all required fields Click to hide
    Correct invalid entries Click to hide

    Trending Now

    Cowboys Reveal New Uniforms for Week 17 vs Titans

    Another uniform emerges for the Dallas Cowboys to wear...

    Brett Maher continues to kick with confidence

    A topic of conversation throughout the offseason was who...

    The Star: Getting Inside the Dallas Cowboys New Home

    The Dallas Cowboys star logo is one of the...

    Cowboys Nostalgia: Before Jerry Jones

    25 years ago Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys...

    Why are the Dallas Cowboys Considered “America’s Team?”

    The Dallas Cowboys are one National Football League team...

    Diggs Island – Trevon Diggs is entering elite status

    It’s hard to find a cornerback that is under...

    Like it or not, it’s time to give the front office credit

    All of a sudden the Cowboys have won three...

    Cowboys vs Commanders: Week 4 Injury Report

    The Dallas Cowboys (2-1) clash with the Washington Commanders...

    Damone Clark: A Star in the Making

    Damone Clark is a special character in the Dallas Cowboys universe. There are some fans who show no sense of familiarity with him or...

    3 hot takes for the Cowboys in week 10

    We're officially a couple of hours away until the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) take on the Green Bay Packers (3-6), and I don't know about...

    3 things to watch in Cowboys second half of the season

    The 6-2 Dallas Cowboys get to use their bye week to rest up before the second half of the season starts next week. Fans, media,...


    Notify of

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Mark Kalilikane

    What about Turpin?

    Cowboy Fan Ed

    Good break down on our young talent RG!