Sun, 13 Jun 2021

Mailbag: How Many Rookies Make Week 1 Impact

Dallas Cowboys
14 May 2021, 04:24 GMT+10

by Dallas Cowboys Mailbag, Nick Eatman & Rob Phillips

Was this a draft for Day One players? Jabril Cox can be a great cover linebacker, Chauncey Golston can defend the run at defensive end on early downs, Osa Odighizuwa can do a little of everything, run and pass, and Josh Ball can be a swing tackle immediately. While not the sexiest of drafts, it looks like quite a few can get right on the field for the defense. - CHRIS TEASE / LEWES, DE

Nick: Now that we have the schedule, it makes it even more exciting to see how many of these rookies can be on the field for the first NFL game against the Super Bowl champions, who happen to have all 22 starters back. We'll find out real quick if the stage is too big for them. If I had to guess, I would imagine something like 6-7 draft picks make the team with a couple of other rookie free agents likely to make it. I can see Parsons, Joseph and Odighizuwa probably being on the field, but it's really tough to gauge. All it takes is an injury in camp and that sets them back for Week 1. Neville Gallimore wasn't really a factor until later in the year. So that's a tough question to answer. But I wouldn't be shocked if guys like Cox, Bohanna and Golston are contributing right away.

Rob: Well, that's the goal for every draft, but I get your point. They didn't draft many players who clearly need a year or two of development time. I would add sixth-round pick Quinton Bohanna to your list if he can earn a spot and rotation snaps in training camp. I don't think that's a given because of the depth they have at defensive tackle, but he brings something to the table no one else can: a 330-pound frame as a true nose tackle.

Which player, outside of this year's draft picks, are you most interested in seeing in a preseason game? - M. LINTEAU / YONKERS, NY

Nick: That's a great question. I think guys like Rico Dowdle, Ben DiNucci and Francis Bernard are guys I want to see on the field - same with Bradlee Anae. But even guys like Cedrick Wilson and Dorance Armstrong can get a lot of playing time and should be able to contribute in a major way.

Rob: Besides Dak (assuming he might get a few preseason snaps)? How about Keanu Neal? I doubt preseason will tell us exactly what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has planned for Neal within the scheme. But he's a really interesting addition because of his versatility, his toughness and his tackling ability.

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