Although we are still far away from the start of the 2022 NFL Season, I wanted to talk about something other than OTAs, free agency, and trades–and focus on the top five rookies the Cowboys will have to face this year.
While it was tough narrowing this list down to just five players (since there are many talented rookies the Boys will see), find out which players I chose below.
5. Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
Coming in at No.5 in my rankings is Washington Commanders WR Jahan Dotson, who I project to be a Cowboys headache for the next decade or so. Leading up to the draft, most of the talk was around WRs Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, and Drake London.
However, after those four went quickly off the board, the Commanders (who desperately needed a WR) settled on Dotson. And to me, they landed a huge consolation prize. At Penn State, Dotson flashed his speed for the Nittany Lions every Saturday, as he finished his final season with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 TDs.
Dotson will enter the season likely as the WR2, and because of how much respect WR Terry McLaurin requires from defensive backs, I wouldn't be surprised to see Dotson have 600+yards in his rookie season. Jumping to why he will be a problem for the Cowboys, if you look at their current CB Room, you could argue it's good, but not great.
Although CB Trevon Diggs did lock-up McLaurin last year, if all of the attention is solely on him–look for Dotson to eat against the Cowboys. Additionally, with reports that Commanders QB Carson Wentz is quickly developing a rapport with Dotson, watch out.
4. Evan Neal, OT, New York Giants
At No.4, we have New York Giants' new offensive tackle, Evan Neal. Arguably the best player in this class, I have to admit that I was on the trade-up train in this year's draft, and I wanted the Cowboys to trade up for Neal so they could build toward an elite offensive line again.
Neal, who's projected to be the Giants' cornerstone RT, will get his first action against the Boys in Week 3. While he may show some early hiccups (given he's a rookie), I would expect some high-quality reps from him early on.
Additionally, with how suspect the pass-rush is right now, Neal should be able to hold his side down and show the Giants organization why he was worthy of the 4th Pick. The battles between Neal and the Boys will be incredible to watch for the next decade.
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants
After a previous Giants pick, I'm going back-to-back with another Giants rookie and putting former Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux at No.3. First off, it feels unfair that the Giants were able to haul two Top 3 Players at their position, but it is what it is.
I put Thibodeaux at No. 3 because the team will have to face off against one of the most-gifted pass-rushers in college. Add in with how suspect the Cowboys offensive line is right now–Thibodeaux could be a problem.
Although he's just one player the offense will have to account for, Thibodeaux isn't an ordinary player as people compared him to Brian Orakpo. And with the Giants desperately needing pass-rush help, expect Thibodeaux to hear his name called on early and for him to shine.
2. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions
It feels like the theme of my top three picks are all defensive players, but with the Cowboys' biggest issue arguably in their offensive line, it was hard not to pick defensive players. At No.2, I'm picking Lions DE Aidan Hutchinson, who could have been the 1st Overall Pick and is an absolute dog.
In his last year at Michigan, Hutchinson had 62 Tackles, 16 TFL, and 14 Sacks. Because of his freakish talent and production, it was no surprise to see the Lions take Hutchinson at Pick Two, and he will now enter his Rookie season as their best defender.
Although I expect the Cowboys to handle the Lions easily, Hutchinson could be a problem if the offensive line isn't rolling. Additionally, Hutchinson should be playing a lot of snaps, and he's bound to make plays, so don't be surprised when you hear his name constantly.
1. Jordan Davis, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Finishing off my rankings, I'm riding with DT Jordan Davis as the toughest rookie that the Cowboys will have to face. While people could argue with the previous DEs (Thibodeaux & Hutchinson) that I ranked behind Davis are way better, I'm predicting Davis to cause more havoc than those two.
Listed around the 335-340 pounds range, Davis is LITERALLY A GIANT player the Eagles were able to snag in the first round, and now their trenches got even scarier. Having to imagine the Cowboys trying to run on this line now already gives me headaches, but what makes it worse is how good I predict he's going to be.
Expect Davis to be a huge factor in both matchups versus the Boys this season, and I hope fans can live with seeing how often this player is likely going to be in the Cowboy's backfield for years.