3 Cowboys who could lose their job to rookies in 2024

These Cowboys veterans better watch their back.
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
2 of 3

2. EDGE Sam Williams

There are four attributes NFL players should have in their locker: athleticism, technique, game intelligence, and intensity. Sam Williams has fantastic athleticism and unquestioned intensity, but he leaves more to be desired regarding game intelligence and technique.

A defense run by Mike Zimmer requires players to be smart, and not rely on athleticism. That could cause problems for the talented Williams. It's not that he doesn't play smart at all, but his mistakes have been costly for the Cowboys, and it's hard to imagine Zimmer being the most patient.

Williams posted nearly identical numbers in his first and second seasons despite playing more snaps as a sophomore. What has changed is an increase in penalties; four in year one compared to seven (!) in 2023. His 10 pressures also ranked sixth on the team.

Hopefully entering his third year with a new defensive coordinator, and two defensive ends leaving in free agency, more opportunity is there.

In the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Cowboys drafted Marshawn Kneeland. The Western Michigan edge rusher was the top defensive end/pass rusher in the draft regarding athleticism. He uses that to win in both the pass and run game.

If Kneeland can prove to have a more reliable floor than Williams, especially against the run, Zimmer may opt to give him more snaps over the volatile Williams. It's a tough situation for Williams after fighting behind a loaded line the past two years.

Many view this year as a "make it or break it" season for Williams. In a league where opportunities are few and production is expected, they are correct. A new youngster with a different skillset and more years on a cheaper deal is waiting for his shot.