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 9 victory over the Cleveland Browns:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
The Cowboys’ big win held back Elliott’s personal stats. He was pulled in the fourth quarter and finished with just 92 yards rushing; his second-straight game without breaking 100 yards. With just five yards receiving, it was the first time that Elliott hasn’t had at least 140 total yards since Week 2.
This isn’t a complaint, of course. Elliott still had an impressive 5.1 yards-per-carry and found the endzone twice. He displayed his immense talent, as usual, on several big runs. No play symbolized that more than the one pictured above; his reach for the goal line was an athletic play that only so many guys can make.
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. Jerry Jones did say last week that he’s not yet dismissed Smith making his debut this year.
Maliek Collins, DT
The third-round rookie got his first career sack on Sunday. Collins enjoyed it so much that he added a second one for good measure.
There’s no question that Collins has the physical makeup to excel in Rod Marinelli’s defense. He is athletic enough to play the role that guys like Tommie Harris and Henry Melton did when Marinelli had great defenses with the Chicago Bears.
What’s more, Collins is a little bigger than those guys and holds up well against the run. The Browns RBs were held to just 34 yards on 11 carries.
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
Dak set a new high with a 141.8 passer rating. He completed 77% of his throws for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
For once, we don’t have to tell you about Prescott’s poise or response to pressure. The Browns didn’t present any real adversity, allowing Dak and the Cowboys offense to hum its way to victory.
It would be foolish to dismiss how well Dak played, though, just because of the competition. Showing how you prepare and execute for a lesser opponent is just as much a test for a rookie leader as anything. Plenty of guys play up or down to the level of their competition, but Dak reflected the consistency and mentality of his head coach in the dominant victory.
Anthony Brown, CB
Back in a major role with Morris Claiborne out, Brown played outside corner. He had been the slot receiver during Orlando Scandrick’s absence. No Cleveland receiver had more than 40 yards, so overall the rookie held up well.
However, Cleveland’s one touchdown did come against Brown. His man coverage of Terelle Pryor broke down when Cody Kessler rolled out, allowing Pryor to get open and haul in the scoring catch. It’s tough for any player to maintain coverage that long, but Brown got left in the dust by Pryor’s improvisational play.
Kavon Frazier, S
Active and now the number-four safety with Barry Church‘s injury, Frazier still couldn’t get on the field. It didn’t help that the Cowboys dominated time of possession, meaning the defense only had to play about 33% of the game.
Darius Jackson, RB
I’d hoped that the Cowboys might activate Jackson in a foreseeable blowout, giving him a chance to play during garbage time. However, he remained in street clothes for the eight-straight game. It looks like he won’t get any run until the end of the year, if at all this season.
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.
While Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott both had great days, this was to be expected against the Browns’ 31st-ranked defense. Both guys lived up to expectations. However, another rookie truly exceeded them:
We finally get to add a new name to this Rookie of the Week mix. No Cowboys defender has had two full sacks in a game this season. It’s especially impressive from an interior lineman, making Collins an easy pick.
The 2016 draft class is looking like an all-timer. Obviously, Dak and Zeke are the crown jewels. But Collins and Anthony Browns are looking more and more like players who will be part of this team’s future. That Collins has already pushed Tyrone Crawford to a different position, and keeps veteran Cedric Thornton on the bench, says volumes.
Previous ROTW Winners
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