This regular season will be the toughest for rookies to make a meaningful impact on the Dallas Cowboys in their first year.
One of the primary arguments made against the possible elimination of NFL preseason games has been its potential impact on fringe players. Fewer exhibitions mean fewer opportunities for unproven players, like rookies, to shine. And for teams like the Dallas Cowboys, that means fewer chances of unearthing those hidden gems.
In the midst of an offseason training program stunted by a worldwide pandemic, and how that could impact training camp, preseason, and the NFL regular season, this year presents a unique challenge for the Cowboys. There are so many unknowns right now and several questions yet to be answered.
But when we look at the Cowboys’ current roster, it’s the rookie class that faces the biggest obstacles heading into unknown territory. And as a recent video released by the Cowboys illustrates, the team is continuing to try and find virtual ways to prepare their newest players.
But no amount of virtual meetings and at-home workouts can truly prepare a rookie for the NFL. Here’s how David Helman of DallasCowboys.com responded to a recent mailbag question about the team’s ability to evaluate their rookies following a shortened offseason.
"” … this rookie class is going to be behind the eight ball. We already know that it’s a grind for these guys to go from the draft circuit back to regular football. Now, it appears that they’ll be jumping into the mix without even the benefit of OTAs or a rookie minicamp to get their feet wet.”"
The Cowboys just had one of their best draft hauls in recent memory. And rookies like first-round wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and second-round cornerback Trevon Diggs will be given every opportunity to make an impact in their first season.
But who this truncated offseason could really hurt are those fringe players. For instance, how many chances will undrafted rookie tight end Sean McKeon get to unseat someone like former fourth-rounder Dalton Schultz on the depth chart?
Would an undrafted rookie like defensive end Ron’Dell Carter, whom the Cowboys reportedly guaranteed a whopping $145,000, have made the final roster in a normal year, but not this one? With so much uncertainty in the air, will coaches choose to trust proven veterans over rookies with potentially higher ceilings?
Obviously, you must play the hand you’re dealt. And all these rookies can really do is try to make the most of the opportunities they’re given. But this class will certainly face some unique challenges that their predecessors didn’t. And that could limit their impact in 2020.
Yet, one thing that could actually aid these rookies is the fact the Dallas Cowboys have an almost entirely new coaching staff in place. With several new faces in key roles, most importantly head coach Mike McCarthy, every single player on the roster, both old and new, must prove themselves this summer.