The Dallas Cowboys struck gold in 2016 with their rookie draft class, now they hope to repeat the success in 2017.
With Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys got a pair of leaders for this offense that will lead this team for many years and likely put them in Super Bowl contention year in and year out. The focus of last year’s draft might have looked like it was offense through the draft with Elliott, Prescott, and the hype of tight end Rico Gathers. However, two rookie defenders didn’t play a snap in 2016 as rookies and both are expected to play a role in the success of this team in 2017. Charles Tapper and Jaylon Smith are a pair of players that that both their fans and the Cowboys themselves hope will guide this new and improved defense moving forward.
So, for fun, let’s put both Smith and Tapper in this year’s rookie class and take a look at them and see who will be the next Elliott or even Dak from this rookie class. Which one will have a huge impact and catch the league by storm? It will need to be a defensive player because that is the spot this team needs the most help at, especially with the loss of their key players in the secondary.
Blogging the Boys did a poll on which rookie will have the best rookie season in Dallas, but I want to take it a little further and add a pair of players that missed their rookie campaigns in 2016. We will look at the rookie seasons of the players, but also look at who is expected to have the better career from what we see in them prior to the OTA’s.
Jaylon Smith (2016 Draft Pick)
Technically, Smith is a member of the 2016 draft class, but might as well be looked at as a rookie this year. He missed his entire rookie season with an injury that he suffered in his final collegiate football game, an injury that was not your normal knee injury, it was a nerve injury. That nerve is beginning to regenerate and the Cowboys are not just hopeful that he will have a major impact in 2017, they expect it to happen this year. My gut tells me that he will be average in 2017 and will continue to be an average player for most of his NFL career. Nothing wrong with being an average NFL linebacker, he can have a very successful and lengthy career being average in this league. The biggest part of his recovery might be over, but he still has plenty of work to do.
Charles Tapper (2016 Draft Pick)
Just like his fellow ’16 draft pick Smith, Tapper missed his rookie season. He will also be looked at as an impact player in 2017 and I believe he will be just that. Of the two ’16 rookies, I think Tapper will have the better ’17 season, but in the end, Smith will have the better and longer career.
Taco Charlton (2017 first-round)
All the hype is around Charlton and if he can turn this pass rush around in Dallas. They continue to search for the replacement of DeMarcus Ware in Dallas. They had hoped that DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory were that player, neither have been able to stay on the field long enough to prove them right or wrong. The addition of Charlton will help Lawrence maybe become that player as he will be able to play the side he feels most comfortable with. I see Charlton not only being the star he can be, but helping Lawrence become a star in his own right.
Chidobe Awuzie (2017 second-round)
I absolutely love this selection of the Cowboys, they got a first-round talent in the second round. He will have the most impact as a rookie and might be the best of the group when it’s all said and done. Awuzie will make it easy to forget Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. I see many Pro Bowls in his career.
Jourdan Lewis (2017 third-round)
With a legal issue looming over his head, Lewis might not be as focused as you would like him to be. He says the accusations are false and it will eventually be behind him. Once that happens, Lewis will have a good chance to dethrone Orlando Scandrick, who might be shopped this summer. Lewis was considered the best slot corner in this draft and had a second-round grade by many people in this draft. Just like his secondary teammate Awuzie, the Cowboys got great value on this pick. I don’t see him having the same impact as Awuzie, but should be able to have a nice career in the NFL as a slot cornerback.
Xavier Woods (2017 sixth-round)
Woods has huge upside coming out of this draft and might be the best value of this draft. With that said, I think he is still a year or two away from being an impact player and will learn behind his teammates as a rookie, but has a chance to be something special in Dallas at safety.
I love the potential of these players and if we go by just talent itself, along with upside, the Cowboys did great to get their defense to the next level!