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.
DAL 37, PHI 10: Cowboys Correct Course by Crushing Eagles
The Dallas Cowboys will need plenty more games like this one to undo some of the damage from their recent three-game losing streak. But with a 37-10 rout of the division rival Philadelphia Eagles tonight, Dallas took a big step toward redemption and restoring order in their season.
The game got ugly in a hurry for the Eagles, who fumbled on their first two possessions and set the Cowboys up for touchdowns on each. Philadelphia would answer with a score on their next drive to make it 14-7, but it was all Dallas from there.
It was a joint effort from all parts of the Cowboys roster tonight. Ezekiel Elliott had 111 yards rushing and another 36 receiving, plus one touchdown on the ground. Dak Prescott threw for 239 yards and one score and ran for another touchdown.
Dallas' defense limited Philadelphia to just 283 total yards. DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and Jourdan Lewis each recorded sacks while Xavier Woods had a rare interception for the Cowboys secondary.
Even special teams contributed; Brett Maher nailed a 63-yard field goal to end the first half and made his two other FG attempts as well.
The Eagles were missing several key players on both sides of the ball, giving them a bit of an excuse for how lopsided this game got. But with Dallas now getting bye week rest while Philadelphia has to stay on the road in Buffalo, is this the beginning of the end for the Eagles' season?
- Amari Cooper led the receivers tonight with 106 yards on five catches. He did not appear to be hampered by any injury despite our worries earlier in the week.
- Maher's 63-yard field goal put him in the NFL record books as the only kicker to ever hit three career FGs from 60 or more.
- Prescott's 21st career rushing touchdown broke Roger Staubach's record for most all-time rushing TDs by a Cowboys quarterback.
- Some negative injury news coming out of the game; Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and Robert Quinn (ribs) both had to leave and didn't return. No word yet on severity for either, but hopefully the bye week is all they need to recover.
- Jeff Heath was also shaken up toward the end of the game but appeared to be okay on the sideline.
- No injury setbacks for any of the Cowboys' previously concerning players. Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tyron Smith, and La'el Collins all made it through without incident.
- Dallas now gets a long rest with the bye week and their next game not coming until Monday, Nov. 4th, against the New York Giants. While the Cowboys are healing up, the Giants will be traveling to Detroit next Sunday.
DAL 27, PHI 7: Cowboys Winning Every Phase, Build Big Halftime Lead
The Dallas Cowboys certainly heard about Doug Pederson's win guarantee, but did anyone tell Pederson's team? The Philadelphia Eagles have fumbled and flopped their way into a 24-7 halftime deficit in this pivotal Week 7 rivalry game.
Two early fumbles by Dallas Goedert and Carson Wentz helped set up the Cowboys for short fields and touchdowns. Dallas has scored points on all but one of their drives in the first half.
Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best game of 2019 so far. He has 65 rushing yards and another 25 through the air, with one touchdown coming on the ground.
Dak Prescott has been sharp with 161 passing yards on 15-of-20 passing. He connected with Blake Jarwin on the team's second touchdown of the night.
Dallas' other touchdown came on a pretty toss play to Tavon Austin, who used his athletic skills to juke one Eagle and then outrace the rest to the endzone.
Brett Maher finished the half with an amazing 63-yard field goal. He also made one from 26 yards earlier.
Standouts on defense so far include DeMarcus Lawrence, who is playing up to his verbal response to the Eagles' head coach earlier this week. We've also some big plays from Maliek Collins, Jourdan Lewis, and Robert Quinn.
Leighton Vander Esch had to leave the game with a neck injury and is questionable to return. Hopefully, the Cowboys won't need him.
Great start by the good guys! Let's keep it going!
Eagles @ Cowboys 2019: Gameday Inactives for Both Teams
Kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7 of the 2019 season is almost upon us. The teams have now officially declared their inactive players for tonight, and the Cowboys' list comes with many sighs of relief.
After a week of worrying that several starters and other key players could miss this pivotal game, Dallas should have most of them on hand.
Cowboys inactives: Devin Smith, Anthony Brown, Luke Gifford, Adam Redmond, Brandon Knight, Justin Hamilton, Dorance Armstrong.
Losing Anthony Brown, who is essentially a starter as the nickel corner, isn't great. But it will mean more playing time for Jourdan Lewis, and to some that could be a blessing in disguise.
As for Philadelphia, their inactive list features several key names
Ronald Darby is active for the #Eagles. Rookie Shareef Miller active for the first time. The inactives for tonight's game against the Cowboys: DeSean Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Darren Sproles, Nigel Bradham, Nate Herbig, Jason Peters, Tim Jernigan.
You can read more analysis of the Eagles' missing players here. But just to summarize, that's two offensive starters(Jackson, Peters) and three from the defense (Jernigan, Bradham, Maddox) who won't be playing in Dallas tonight.
Will these injuries decide the game? Will Dallas take advantage or will Philly overcome?
We're about to find out!
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