Star Blog Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8 Published 3 months ago on November 1, 2017 By Mauricio Rodriguez Share Tweet The Dallas Cowboys rookie class from 2016 is one that will be difficult to top for a long time. Naturally, after having so much rookies have an impact a season ago, Cowboys Nation was truly excited to see what the 2017 class could bring to the table this year. Some rookies have been pretty good, some not as much, but the Cowboys do have a young team that is very promising on both sides of the ball. There are promising players in just about every position of the team. Now, there’re a lot of things to work on, but the talent is there. This is a team in development rather than a team in “reconstruction mode.” Yes, including the defense. Last year, it was all about Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Of course, Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown had pretty good seasons themselves, but the hype around Zeke and Dak took everyone’s attention. But what about this year? Eight weeks into the season and seven Cowboys games later, how has this rookie class fared so far? Who’s been the best and the worst so far? Let’s go ahead and rank every Cowboys rookie who has played significant football this year. (No Cooper Rush on the list, sorry Cowboys Nation.) Dallas Cowboys DL Taco Charlton (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) #6 DE Taco Charlton From the moment he was drafted back in April, we all had doubts about Taco Charlton. To some, he was a player with second-round talent at best. A lot of fans would’ve preferred someone like T.J. Watt or even a cornerback over him. But the front office went for Taco Charlton and eight weeks into the season, the Michigan product has been disappointing. Can he develop and become a legit pass rusher down the road? Maybe, but while we didn’t expect him to be a player with double-digit sacks, we certainly didn’t expect him to have no sacks after seven games and only four tackles. Charlton’s impact on this defense has been close to none. I would’ve thought that at this point of the season, we would already be seeing some positive flashes by the rookie DE, but he still has a very, very, very long way to go. He’s ranked as the worst Cowboy rookie of the season because of his play, and because he is a first round draft pick who hasn’t even helped this defense in a small way. #5 WR Ryan Switzer It pains me to put Ryan Switzer in this spot. I hate to do so. When he was drafted by the Cowboys a lot of us were excited. He was considered a steal. The thing about Switzer, is that we all knew he was going to come to Dallas to replace Lucky Whitehead as a returner on special teams. But we also expected to see him involved on the offense someway, and that hasn’t happened. It feels like every time Switzer is on the field, he fakes or runs a jet sweep. He is always used in gadget plays. The rookie wide receiver from North Carolina could be contributing to this offense way more than he is now. Weren’t we all excited about this offense exploring the use of 10 personnel and seeing Beasley and Switzer on the field simultaneously? Finally, he hasn’t been impressive returning kicks either, and has made a lot of questionable decisions when fielding punts and kicks. Switzer has a lot to improve on, and I’m sure he will. I know most of Cowboys Nation is rooting for him. #4 WR Noah Brown If you’d told me that I would be ranking Noah Brown ahead of Ryan Switzer through eight weeks, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am. Another rookie wide receiver who was expected to be a steal after being taken in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft has had some impressive plays as a Dallas Cowboy. As any seventh rounder, he wasn’t expected to come in here and have a big role on offense with a WR-loaded depth chart. But he’s been there a few times, and he’s stood in a couple of plays. NoahBrown1 – Streamable Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop. Noah Brown’s biggest strength is his blocking game. In the above play, we can see a hell of a block by the rookie, creating a lane for Ezekiel Elliott on what resulted on a 72-yard touchdown. He’s shown us excellent blocking on a few other plays as well, and he could very well see an increased role on this offense in the future. Brown has also made a couple of plays on special teams, which is another reason why I put him above Ryan Switzer on this list. Props to the seventh-rounder! #3 CB Chidobe Awuzie The Cowboys’ second round pick was expected to have an instant impact on this Cowboys’ secondary, but injuries have gotten in the way for Chidobe Awuzie. Awuzie has looked pretty good and pretty promising when he’s played. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been there a lot for Dallas. He’s played in only three games this season. Here are his defensive snap counts in each of those games, per Pro Football Reference: vs NY Giants: 39 @ DEN Broncos: 5 vs GB Packers: 9 He’s only played one full game. However, I think Awuzie has looked good in the small amount of playing time he’s had, and he will be a very important piece for this secondary as soon as he gets back. He will see snaps at CB and probably will get the chance to see some playing time as a safety. #2 S Xavier Woods Speaking of safeties, Xavier Woods confirmed what we all thought when he was drafted in the sixth round earlier this year. He was a steal! Woods has impacted this defense most of the time he’s on the field, and he should be taking over the starting job soon. Xavier Woods provides this defense with a play-making ability that this unit could use. He’s made some stops on key moments and he’s flashed a lot of potential. John Owning on Twitter Cowboys in Cover 1: Xavier Woods shows off impressive range. Beautiful play from the rook. Hard to beat DAL deep with XW playing single-high https://t.co/ucQuIvyhHO Woods is better than Jeff Heath. And I would love to see what Byron Jones and him can do when on the field at the same time. It’s fair to say that Heath has been disappointing through eight weeks, and I would think that giving the rookie the nod would be a nice change for this defense. Even if the Cowboys think Heath is better, I don’t think there’s enough difference between the two to ignore the upside that Woods brings to the table. #1 CB Jourdan Lewis Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Finally, the best Cowboy rookie so far… third round draft pick Jourdan Lewis. The fact that the Cowboys were able to draft him on the third round is amazing. If Lewis hadn’t been dealing with a domestic violence trial, the Michigan cornerback would’ve been drafted in the second, if not the first round. Jourdan Lewis has been outstanding in just about every aspect of the game. He’s been good in coverage and close to perfect in open-field tackling. As every rookie, he has a lot to work on, but none of the other Cowboys’ rookies have had nearly the same impact than Jourdan after seven games. Heading into week 9, Lewis is becoming this team’s #1 cornerback. Dallas Cowboys Rookie of the Year. Tell me what you think about “Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys! ADVERTISEMENT Related Topics:Chidobe AwuzieJourdan LewisNoah BrownRookieRyan SwitzerTaco CharltonXavier Woods Up Next Ranking The Cowboys Roster By Position Don't Miss Dak Prescott Has Golden Opportunity Without Elliott Mauricio Rodriguez I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99. Advertisement You may like Cowboys Defensive Back Questions Still Need Answers Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles 5 Positives for Cowboys Heading Into the Off-Season With Beasley Out, WR Ryan Switzer Should Finally Get His Chance Alert: WR Cole Beasley Out Versus Eagles Sunday’s Game Another Chance for Cowboys DBs to Grow 1 Comment Travis Diggs Its hard to rank them outside of Lewis. They dont have a significant 4 contributing like last years 4. Lewis has been solid. Woods needs more playing time, he’s definitely outplayed Heath and Frazier. Awuzie and Taco are the mystery men, where its hard to grade them as pick 1 & 2(because of injuries and playing time) , while Switzer will get his chance with Beasley out. The jury is out on this Draft class and its only worst compairing them to last years class. Star Blog Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense? Published 14 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Sean Martin Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season. On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason. It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign. This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency. Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins) For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though. The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods. With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018. As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes. Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward. A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out. The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford. With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays. Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season. Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan. He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond. This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two. Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball. Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline. Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level. Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever. A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense. The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off. With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons? Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL! ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Star Blog Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”? Published 16 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Brian Martin The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly. Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed. The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott. It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight. The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career. Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”. Enter Tight End Rico Gathers. Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party. We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension. Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball. The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs. And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to. Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards. That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott. Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career. Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field. Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers. There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster. If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”. Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”? ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Star Blog Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right Published 1 day ago on January 15, 2018 By Kevin Brady About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys. At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles. Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right. Brian Chojnacki on Twitter Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off. On the road. Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers. Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game. The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come. With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions. The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Sportsbook odds for all Dallas Cowboys games Reader Survey Want to help make Inside The Star better? We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device. > Take the survey now Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.). Advertisement Advertisement Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here Trending NFL Draft3 days ago The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition NFL Draft2 weeks ago Pre-Playoff 7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft Player News1 week ago Should the Cowboys Consider Not Giving Zack Martin an Extension? 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