The Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie draft class may not be the most impressive on paper, but they are expected to be contributors this year and hopefully for years to come. Last Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers was their first taste of NFL action and some of them lived up to expectations, while others kind of faltered under the pressure. Which ones were which?
Instead of reviewing all of the Dallas Cowboys rookie draft class player by player, I decided to discuss and rank who I believed were the top five performers against the 49ers. You of course can agree or disagree with my rankings, but below are the top five rookies who I believe stood out the most.
#5: RB, Tony Pollard (36)
It was a small sample size, but I believe Running Back Tony Pollard was by far the most impressive ballcarrier for the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t look out of place running behind four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive lineman and was quite impressive doing so, averaging 4 yards per carry. He showed no hesitancy running between the tackles and was decisive with his footwork and vision after receiving the handoff. Overall was a good starting point, but we still need to see a larger sample size.
#4: LBs, Luke Gifford (57) and Justin Phillips (44)
If not for an unfortunate ankle injury, Linebacker Luke Gifford might have ended up as the most impressive Dallas Cowboys rookie against the 49ers. He was flying all over the field pre-injury and was impressive in pass coverage with a pass breakup and interception. Because of the injury though I have him tying with fellow LB Justin Phillips in the No. 4 slot. Phillips benefited from Gifford’s injury by receiving more playing time. He was all over the field as well and ended up tying for the team lead in tackles (4) with LB Chris Covington.
#3: DE, Jalen Jelks (74)
Defensive End Jalen Jelks was already turning a few heads in training camp, which is it was good to see him carry that over into the preseason game against the 49ers. His very first snap couldn’t have gone any better if he had planned it himself. He ended up sacking the QB on his very first play of the game and continued to be disruptive throughout the contest. That’s not too shabby for a seventh-round pick. The Dallas Cowboys may have another late-round steal on their hands if he can continue to play the way he has since arriving in Dallas.
#2: S, Donovan Wilson (37)
Safety Donovan Wilson continues to impress both in practice and now in an actual game situation. He’s been good in run support and showed Saturday night against the 49ers he is also pretty adept at knowing has responsibility in pass coverage as well. Like fellow rookie Luke Gifford, Wilson also came away with an interception in San Francisco. He perfectly read the QBs eyes and put himself in position to make the play. It’s a long shot he can emerge as a Day 1 starter opposite Xavier Woods, but if he can continue to impress he may earn the job at some point in 2019.
#1: DT, Ricky Walker (68)
Ricky Walker!? I know that’s what many of you are thinking. He’s without a doubt one of the most unknown rookies with the Dallas Cowboys this year, but he didn’t play like it against the San Francisco 49ers. He actually ended up leading all of the Cowboys defensive lineman in tackles (3) and proved to be just the type of disruptive player Rod Marinelli is looking for in his DTs. I’m sad to say, but he outperformed fellow rookie DT Trysten Hill, who Dallas took in the second-round this year. I still have high hopes for Hill, but Walker might be somebody we want to keep an eye on from here on out.