Right now, it’s pretty tough to predict how the 2018 Dallas Cowboys’ season will turn out. Even with Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli all returning for next season, there’s a lot of change going on in Dallas. The Cowboys will have to deal with a lot of new position coaches as they try to get back to the top after a 9-7 season in 2017.
Obviously, there are a lot of things that’ll impact the outcome of this season.
- Will we see a better version of Dak Prescott after a year which seemed to be his learning curve?
- Will Dez Bryant even be here next season?
- Will the front office be able to keep DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving and Anthony Hitchens?
One of those questions hasn’t been discussed much. That question is: how will the 2017 rookie class fare in their sophomore seasons?
In 2016 and 2017, rookies were very important for this franchise.
Two years ago, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the NFL by storm, ending the season with a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC. Anthony Brown looked to be the Cowboys’ future shutdown cornerback, and Maliek Collins looked very promising.
Last season, the Cowboys didn’t have rookie seasons as spectacular as Dak and Zeke had in 2016 (I don’t think we’ll see anything similar in the NFL for a long time), but the rookie class ended up being a very important one for sure.
After letting a lot of veteran players walk in free agency, the team went ahead and fixed the secondary by drafting Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in consecutive rounds, and trading up to get Xavier Woods in the sixth.
Jourdan Lewis made his presence felt early in the season, while we had to wait a bit to see Chidobe Awuzie in action. Both of them had surprising rookie seasons and they truly look like the future in Dallas’ secondary.
Both have shown what they’re capable of; we’ve seen them make plays and turn their heads to the ball… really, something we hadn’t seen in a long time.
Ryan Switzer didn’t get a chance to play as a wide receiver that much, but he was very impressive as a returner. He still has a long way to go, but I’m betting on Switzer to remain among the NFL’s best returners for a long time. After seeing him replace Cole Beasley in the season finale, I’ll be shocked if Dallas doesn’t give him more playing time on offense next year. He deserves a more important role.
Taco Charlton still has a lot to improve on, but surprisingly, he did a nice job during the final games of the season. It’s always premature to call a player a “bust” after a single season, and Taco’s been called a bust since the moment he was drafted. Let’s give him a chance.
For 2017, we set the bar high for the Cowboys’ sophomores.
We thought Dak Prescott would be among the best QBs in the league, that Ezekiel Elliott would pass the 2,000-yard mark, that Anthony Brown would be an ideal CB1, and that Maliek Collins could even lead the team in sacks as a defensive tackle.
There are a lot of reasons this team struggled in 2017, and some of those reasons still preoccupy us when thinking about next season.
The Cowboys will definitely need their 2017 rookies to continue playing quality football. It will be key if they want to leave a painful 9-7 season behind and get back to winning this year.
Here’s to hoping the Cowboys’ 2018 sophomores avoid the “inevitable slumps.” In a season filled with uncertainty, they’ll sure be needed.