Dallas Cowboys second-round players prime for explosion
By Brad Austin
The second-round of the draft has often pained the Dallas Cowboys. In 2018 a large cast of second-rounders will now determine their fate.
Linebacker Sean Lee turns 32-years old on Sunday and is the oldest position player on the Dallas Cowboys. L.P. Ladouceur (37) is older but long snappers are specialists.
Lee is the shining example of Dallas striking gold in the second round of the 2010 draft. However, more than a few selections in that round haven’t fared so well.
Some fans still haven’t forgiven owner Jerry Jones for his wasteful reach on Gavin Escobar with the 47th overall pick in 2013. Four seasons later, the bust tight end left town with 33 catches and 333 yards.
In 2015 the Cowboys ignored red flags and drafted Randy Gregory despite a past filled with substance issues. Three seasons and multiple suspensions later, Gregory has 15 tackles and one sack. Now reinstated, he has a path to change the story.
The very next year Dallas was at it again drafting Jaylon Smith while recovering from a horrendous knee injury. They knew before the pick he wouldn’t play for at least another season, and even that would require patience. Smith produced well last year, and the delayed value could be worth the wait.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they also sprinkled in some solid second-round picks along the way. Pair those with the delayed value promise of Gregory and Smith plus new additions, and 2018 could be the season of the second round explosion.
Below are the Cowboys second round players who will play key roles in 2018.
- SEAN LEE (LB)– 2010 – Pick 55
- DEMARCUS LAWRENCE (DE) – 2014 – Pick 34
- KONY EALY (DE) – 2014 – Pick 60 (Carolina)
- RANDY GREGORY (DE) – 2015 – Pick 60
- JAYLON SMITH (LB) – 2016 – Pick 34
- JIHAD WARD (DT) – 2016 – Pick 44 (Oakland)
- CHIDOBE AWUZIE (CB) – 2017 – Pick 60
- CONNOR WILLIAMS (LG) – 2018 – Pick 50
It may not seem like a lengthy collection at first glance, but at least six will start in Week 1. Which means 27% of the 22 starters will be second-round draft picks.
Going a step further, five of the above will start on defense in September. Second rounders will represent 45% of the starting defense against Carolina.
Ealy should be in the end rotation against his former team. And it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Gregory chasing after Cam Newton on a handful of passing snaps.
The bottom line is the production from second-round picks will go a long way in deciding the fate of the 2018 Cowboys. If Lee gets injured again, big trouble will follow. If Lawrence’s sack numbers drop back to earth, the secondary will suffer.
On the flip side, Ward could thrive at defensive tackle and wreck the middle. Gregory may add pass rush pop to compliment Lawrence. Williams could shine and help the offensive line plow the way for Ezekiel Elliott to approach 2,000 rushing yards.
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All eight second-round picks have much to prove this season. The hunger should be raging inside. Here’s hoping these Cowboys ignite a second-round explosion.