The story is just beginning for the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class, but based on the first chapter it’s hard to imagine them having any kind of sophomore slump. Now that it’s time to turn the page to see what’s in store in chapter 2 for last year’s rookie class heading into their second-year in the NFL.
With that in mind, I decided to take a deeper look at the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class to see how they not only played last season, but how they could factor into the teams plans this season. I was actually pretty surprised with my findings, which leads me to believe there is a lot of promise with these second-year players.
Let’s take a closer look at the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class and the potential roles they could play this season…
LB, Leighton Vander Esch – 1st round (19th overall)
Leighton Vander Esch without a doubt highlighted the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class, and should continue to do so for years to come. It’s funny, because nearly all of Cowboys Nation booed or at least questioned the Cowboys decision to take him in the first-round last year. But, everybody is singing a different tune now after the way he played his rookie season.
Personally, I have very little concerns Vander Esch has any kind of sophomore slump in 2019. I would go as far as predicting he does the opposite, and plays even better. I think we could see a much improved “Wolf Hunter” this season due to the work he’s put in this offseason. He should benefit from the Cowboys strength and conditioning program and has a real chance to be bigger, stronger, and faster this year.
LG, Connor Williams – 2nd round (50th overall)
Connor Williams had an up-and-down rookie season for several reasons, but there’s no denying his upside makes him one of the more intriguing players out of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class. Quite a bit of Cowboys Nation didn’t like the fact he struggled against power players last year or the injury he sustained which caused him to miss time, but overall he had a really good rookie season if you care to go back and watch the tape.
Fortunately though, the things he struggled with a season ago shouldn’t cause him as much trouble, if any, in 2019. For that reason alone, I don’t think he will have a sophomore slump. He has already added some much-needed weight and strength to his frame, which he credits to the Cowboys strength and conditioning program and fellow guard Zack Martin. That should help him anchor down against powerful players this year and turn him into a much better offensive lineman overall.
WR, Michael Gallup – 3rd round (81st overall)
A lot of Cowboys Nation believed Michael Gallup was the steal of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class, and I think I would have to concur. Gallup was just as talented and perhaps had more upside than just about any of the wide receivers to be drafted last year, and to get him in the third-round in the draft was an answer to a prayer for the Cowboys.
Gallup was expected to come in and help replace some of the production they were losing on offense after they decided to part ways with Dez Bryant. He may not have lived up to those lofty expectations, but he did have an above average rookie season, and it could have been even better if his chemistry with Dak Prescott would’ve been just a slight bit better. Regardless though, there’s no reason to believe he will have a sophomore slump this year. In fact, he should be close to an 800 yard, double-digit touchdown WR in 2019.
DE, Dorance Armstrong – 4th round (116th overall)
One of the players I’m expecting to see the most improvement from out of the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class is Defensive End Dorance Armstrong. He finished his rookie season with a combined 13 tackles and half a quarterback sack, which isn’t eye-popping by any means, but I think his intangibles and talent should keep him from having a sophomore slump this season.
As things stand right now, I believe Armstrong will be DeMarcus Lawrence’s primary backup at left defensive end in 2019. He does have some rookies (Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks) to compete with, but I believe he’s the better player of the bunch and should benefit from an entire offseason in the Cowboys strength and conditioning program. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a much improved player this upcoming season, one that factors into the Cowboys pass rush/DL rotation.
TE, Dalton Schultz – 4th round (137th overall)
Dalton Schultz steadily progressed throughout his rookie season as both a run blocker and a receiving threat in the passing game, and I expect him to pick up where he left off in 2019. Unfortunately, with the return of Jason Witten, Schultz currently sits third on the tight end depth chart, which makes predicting his role and playing time this year a little difficult.
The way I look at it, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t draft another TE, which to me indicates they like the progression of both Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Both players came on towards the end of the 2018 season last year and they should both factor into the offensive game plan in some form or fashion this season. If Witten doesn’t quite pan out, Schultz could be looking at an expanded role in his sophomore season.
QB, Mike White – 5th round (171st overall)
Quarterback Mike White was nothing more than the third-string QB and a clipboard holder his rookie season, but he has a real shot to become the QB2 in 2019. It’s hard to predict a sophomore slump for him, but I’m expecting a better player this year after spending a year in the Cowboys system. New Dallas Cowboys QB coach, Jon Kitna, has said that the backup position behind Dak Prescott is undetermined as of right now and both QBs, Mike White and Cooper Rush, have a “clean slate” as far as the competition is concerned.
With a “clean slate”, I believe Mike White will become the QB2 for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. Cooper Rush showed flashes his rookie season, but endured a sophomore slump and hasn’t shown nearly the promise he once did. This could be the edge White needs to win the QB competition. Plus, he is both younger and signed to a longer contract than Rush, and that could be a key factor when roster cuts are made.
LB, Chris Covington – 6th round (193rd overall)
As a rookie, Linebacker Chris Covington only appeared in five total games in 2018. He should be in line for a much larger role this upcoming season though. If not for the rumored move of Sean Lee to the strong side LB position, I believe it would be Chris Covington getting the first shot to replace Damien Wilson. But, with quite a bit of the offseason remaining, that remains to be seen.
Regardless of what happens the remainder of the offseason, Chris Covington should see an increase in playing time this season. For that reason alone, I don’t think we will see a sophomore slump, especially since he didn’t play much last year. I believe he will be a core special-teams player and a backup LB at the worst, but if things fall just right could be in line for a starting job.
WR, Cedrick Wilson – 6th round (208th overall)
Cedrick Wilson unfortunately had a redshirt rookie season after sustaining a shoulder injury in training camp that eventually required surgery. He spent his entire first-year in the NFL on Injured Reserve, which was truly unfortunate because he was catching the attention of the coaching staff with his play in practice. 2019 will essentially be his NFL debut, so I don’t think he would technically qualify for a sophomore slump.
With the depth at the wide receiver position, Wilson will once again have to catch the eye of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. He has a few things going in his favor though. His ability to play on the outside or out of the slot could come in handy when it’s time to start making roster cuts. It’s not going to be easy though due to the depth and young talent currently on the roster, but if he plays his cards right he could carve out a role for himself this season.
RB, Bo Scarbrough – 7th round (236th overall)
Bo Scarbrough is the only player from the Dallas Cowboys 2018 draft class no longer on the roster, so a sophomore slump is meaningless as far as the Cowboys are concerned. A lot of Cowboys Nation though had high hopes he could become the future backup to Ezekiel Elliott and bring with him some of that success he had during his time at Alabama, but unfortunately that never really materialized.
Sadly, he didn’t make the final 53-man roster out of training camp, but was re-signed to the practice squad to replace RB Darius Jackson after he was poached by the Green Bay Packers. He was released once again by the Cowboys and signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He spent about a week with the Jaguars before being signed by the Seattle Seahawks, where he currently remains.