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.
Here’s a summary of the performances and statuses from all nine of the Cowboys drafted rookies after the Week 11 victory over the Baltimore Ravens:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
The Ravens boasted the league’s top-ranked run defense going into Sunday, and they lived up to the hype. Baltimore held Elliott to just 3.9 yards per carry, his lowest production rate since Week 1. However, nobody came away from this one feeling Elliott didn’t play a major part in the victory.
Elliott still turned in 97 yards rushing and 30 receiving, staying plenty productive despite the tough opponent. He didn’t allow any frustration on his early carries, or the team’s three-straight punts to start the game, to rattle him. Elliott kept grinding and eventually broke through.
Zeke’s path to the NFL rushing title is even smoother after this week. He is now well over 200 yards ahead of David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, and other top rushers. DeMarco Murray is only 102 yards behind but still has his bye week coming. At this point, an injury appears the only thing that could stop Zeke from getting the title.
Jaylon Smith, LB
Smith was activated form the Non-Football Injury list on Monday. With that, the Cowboys started the 21-day timer on Smith either joining the active roster or being put on Injured Reserve.
While this is better than him just going to IR now, Smith’s chances of playing this year still aren’t good. This is simply a cost-free way for the Cowboys to keep the door open for three more weeks. Barring a sudden medical surprise, though, Smith’s debut will hopefully come next season.
Maliek Collins, DT
It’s been a quiet few weeks for Collins. He was credited with two tackles but did not make his presence known with any impact plays. It was a bad in general for the defensive line; only one sack on Joe Flacco and a 6.3 rushing average for the Ravens’ offense.
Charles Tapper, DE
Tapper is on Injured Reserve with ongoing back issues. He began to miss time early in the preseason and has never been able to return to practice. The end result is, essentially, a redshirt season for the fourth-round pick.
Dak Prescott, QB
After a few early inaccurate throws and taking a sack, Prescott settled down and turned in another brilliant performance. With 301 yards and three touchdowns on 75% passing, Prescott earned his third-straight passer rating of 120 or better.
At the very beginning, you had to wonder if Tony Romo‘s presence on the sideline wasn’t unnerving Prescott a little. It would be only be natural, and perhaps that little added pressure did rattle our young quarterback right out of the gates. But as he’s done time and again, Prescott found his groove and only got better as the game went on.
Anthony Brown, CB
Brown flashed his talent more than once, never more than a diving pass deflection along the sideline against Mike Wallace. The Ravens’ receivers both had nice days, but it seemed that Brandon Carr was on the wrong end of the biggest plays.
When Orlando Scandrick has to go out briefly with one of his many injuries, Brown was again thrust into a primary role. It’s amazing to see how much the kid’s had to handle this season, especially as just a sixth-round pick. Prescott and Elliott may be the stars of this draft class, but Anthony Brown could be the biggest surprise of all.
Kavon Frazier, S
Another week on the active 46 but with no stats to show for it. Frazier appears to be nothing more than an emergency option at safety at this point.
Darius Jackson, RB
Having yet to dress this season, it appears Jackson’s only shot at playing this year will be if Dallas has nothing to play for in one of the final regular season games. There is also the chance he could be released to make room for Darren McFadden.
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. Last week, Dallas elected to call up Vince Mayle instead of Gathers to fill the open roster spot from Geoff Swaim’s injury. As expected, Gathers is still a project player who needs time.
Dak and Zeke both played big parts in the win. However, one guy’s star shone just a little brighter. The Rookie of the Week is…
Aside from just having the better statistical performance, Prescott had to live up to the added hype after having the torch passed from Tony Romo. The potential for a media frenzy was only a few turnovers away, but Prescott didn’t allow any pressure to take him outside of his game.
The days of talking about Dak as an exceptional rookie are about over. He is now starting to be mentioned as a MVP candidate. His passer rating is below just Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, and that doesn’t even factor in his rushing touchdowns.
Dak Prescott is quickly becoming more than just a great story. He’s starting to look like a truly great player, regardless of age or draft status.
Previous ROTW Winners
Week 10 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 9 – DT Maliek Collins
Week 8 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 6 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 5 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 4 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 3 – RB Ezekiel Elliott
Week 2 – QB Dak Prescott
Week 1 – QB Dak Prescott