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
With 140 yards rushing and another 20 receiving, Elliott finally had the statistical “break out” game that we’ve been waiting for. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
Though Zeke didn’t find the endzone against the Bears, he had arguably the play of the game with his hurdling leap over safety Chris Prosinski. It showed the dynamic ability that made him the fourth overall pick.
With the big game against Chicago, Elliott is now tied for second in the NFL in rushing with 274 yards. The Browns’ Isaiah Crowell shares the spot with him. With 298 yards, New England’s LeGarrette Blount is in the top spot.
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
The third-round pick continues to carve out a bigger role in the defense. He is now a starter as Tyrone Crawford is playing defensive end.
Thought not yet confirmed, this may not change once DeMarcus Lawrence comes back. Keeping Crawford at DE and starting Collins and Terrell McClain in the middle may give Dallas their best chance at disrupting quarterbacks.
Even if he does return to the bench, Collins will remain a major part of the DT rotation. He has moved past veteran Cedric Thornton on the depth chart and is already providing excellent value for a third-rounder. It’s early, but Maliek Collins is looking like a great pick.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper remained inactive for the third-straight game. We may be looking at a redshirt season for the fourth-rounder as his back issue appears to be more problematic than the usual “soreness.”If it goes a few more weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tapper placed on Injured Reserve.
Dak Prescott, QB
To say Prescott is getting better each week isn’t hyperbole; the stats also say as much. He went from a 69.4 passer rating against the Giants to a 103.7 in Washington. Against the Bears, the rating jumped to 123.6 as he led the Cowboys to their second victory.
Prescott got his first career touchdown pass and his second rushing touchdown of the year. Best of all, he continues to protect the ball without a single turnover.
With 248 yards on 79% passing, plus another 36 yards rushing, Dak is as productive as he is efficient. As much as we love Tony Romo, there’s no denying that Prescott is making his case to remain the starter. The real tests will come in a few weeks when Dallas faces the Bengals and Packers.
Anthony Brown, CB
Playing significant reps as the slot corner for an injured Orlando Scandrick, Brown was credited for four tackles. It was a fairly quiet night for Brown, but that’s a good thing for coverage player.
I was worried about the idea of Brown going up against a solid veteran like Eddie Royal. However, Royal only had three catches for 21 yards.
Some of that was because Brian Hoyer was having success going to other receivers, but you’d think the Bears would’ve targeted a rookie sixth-round pick. Anthony Brown did not let himself become a liability, and that’s a win for the rookie.
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 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.
The “Elliott vs. Prescott” debate for Rookie of the Week finally had a close call. I think you can make a great case for either to be get the award after the Bears win. However, after two week of honoring Dak, it’s time for a welcome change.
Sure, the Bears’ injuries set a nice table for Elliott to eat from. However, we also thought he’d break out last week in Washington after they got run over by DeAngelo Williams. No matter how soft an opponent is, you still have to do your part.
Zeke did more than his part. He had 160 total yards and had the highlight of the game with the hurdle. After the two fumbles against Washington, it was great to see the young man bounce back and play with total confidence.
Previous ROTW Winners
Week 2 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 1 – QB Dak Prescott