Every week we’ll be looking at the Cowboys drafted rookies and seeing what impact, if any, they had on the previous game. At the end we’ll name a “Rookie of the Week” for the standout performer.
Until Tony Romo returns, it is likely that this year’s Rookie of the Week feature will be an ongoing battle between Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Hopefully, one of the defensive players will make a big play here or there to spice things up.
Here’s a summary of the performances from all nine of the Cowboys drafted rookies:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Things were looking up for Elliott. He’d improved his rushing average to 4.0 yards from last week’s abysmal 2.5 ypc. He also had his second-straight touchdown.
However, the rookie had two fumbles in the second half and ended up benched.
There’s no question that Zeke is under pressure. As a running back taken so high on the draft, coupled with reputation of the Cowboys offensive line, Elliott is facing the highest first-year expectations that any rookie could.
Right now it feels like Elliott just needs to breathe a little. While he’s going up against some stacked boxes and tough sledding, the 21-year-old also appears to be moving his legs a little faster than his eyes. If he can calm down a bit and allow the blocking to develop a little more, I think we’ll see the rookie phenom we’re waiting for.
Jaylon Smith, LB
Smith remains on the Non-Football Injury List and it is still unknown if he will play at all for the Cowboys in 2016.
Maliek Collins, DT
Dallas’ third-round pick was much more visible this week. Collins is part of the rotation at defensive tackle and was credited with a QB hit, a pass deflection, and three tackles.
On Tyrone Crawford’s sack play, Collins was playing inside while the veteran moved to defensive end. We could see this more over the next two weeks while DeMarcus Lawrence serves the rest of his suspension. Having Crawford, Collins, and Cedric Thornton all on the field together may give Dallas their best chance at generating some pressure.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper remained inactive for the second game. Earlier in the week Dallas signed veteran DE Ryan Davis. With DeMarcus Lawrence returning soon, Tapper may be in street clothes even once he gets over the back issues.
Dak Prescott, QB
The stats and execution, and especially the final outcome, were all better for Prescott this week. He completed 73% of his throws for 292 yards. Even without a touchdown, Prescott still had a 103.8 passer rating for the day.
The Cowboys were clearly dedicated to getting Dez Bryant the ball in Washington. Prescott did something very impressive for a rookie in accomplishing that goal but not losing good judgment in the process. The ball was never forced to Bryant but always delivered when the moment allowed for it.
The team’s game-winning drive was another great example of Dak’s rare composure. He connected with Cole Beasley on a 3rd-and-11 play to keep things alive and worked the team down to set up Alfred Morris‘ touchdown run. Dak’s calmness under pressure seems to run through the offense in these situations, much like the Cowboys usual starting quarterback.
Anthony Brown, CB
Brown was active but not very visible on Sunday. It’s telling that the team would rather bring in J.J. Wilcox in their dime package then use Brown as the sixth defensive back. Hopefully that changes as the season progresses.
Kavon Frazier, S
At the bottom of the five-man depth chart at safety, Frazier was not active. He is likely to stay that way unless an injury opens up a spot for him.
Darius Jackson, RB
Jackson was also inactive. It will be hard for Jackson to make the 46-man game day roster as long as the Cowboys choose to make both Rod Smith and Keith Smith, fullbacks and special teams players, active each week.
Rico Gathers, TE
Gathers is still on the team’s practice squad; the only drafted player to not make the 53-man roster this season.
For the second game in a row, I don’t think there’s any question who the Rookie of the Week is…
I really hope that soon Ezekiel Elliott has the breakout game that lets me put him in this spot. For now, though, we’re all spectators of The Dak Prescott Show.
We’re starting to run out of ways to praise this kid. I don’t even want to use the word “poise” anymore because it’s getting beaten into the ground by every sports media outlet when discussing Prescott. If he could have just thrown a couple of touchdowns over the last few weeks, Prescott would be every bit as impressive as Carson Wentz.
Assuming that Tony Romo remains sidelined, Dak has a few soft opponents coming up in the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. I’m sure he will at least get his first passing touchdown and maybe even light up the scoreboard.