(Football season is finally approaching. After a long offseason, the Cowboys are set to depart for training camp on July 25. During this final month before they begin practice in Oxnard, Calif., the staff of DallasCowboys.com is going to preview the 20 biggest questions facing the Cowboys heading into 2019.)
FRISCO, Texas – It’s fair to have big expectations for rookies around here.
Consider what we’ve seen in recent seasons. Leighton Vander Esch is coming off a Pro Bowl season, and it wasn’t that long ago that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the league by storm in their first year.
The Cowboys have drafted well these past few years, so it makes sense to hope for one of their newcomers to make an instant impact. Even without the benefit of a first-round pick in 2019, there are still several intriguing rookies who have a chance to make their mark.
As training camp approaches, who is the best bet to do so?
Bryan Broaddus: It appears from the moment he was selected that Tony Pollard was going to be that guy. The front office and coaching staff had a plan for him. During the OTAs and minicamp practices he might have been running behind Darius Jackson, but once we get to training camp and observe practice each day, Kellen Moore is going to find things for Pollard to do. The player is just too explosive not to take advantage of his skill set.
Lindsay Draper: For me, without a doubt, it’s Tony Pollard. He’s had a great summer at The Star, the coaches love his ability to pick things up quickly, in addition to his confidence. The fans will love his electrifying speed and versatility. It just seems he’s built to be a fan favorite for the upcoming season. Kellen Moore has had a few weeks this summer to work with and mold Pollard but give him training camp and preseason games, he may legitimately be ready to make that impact as early as Week 1.
Nick Eatman: I think the most obvious answer would be Pollard, or perhaps Hill. But let’s go towards the end of the draft class. I think Jalen Jelks is going to be the surprise of this class and will make an immediate impact. If he were to be picked in the third round, nobody really would’ve called it a reach. He’s just one of those guys that kept falling for whatever the reason. But because of the uncertainties at this position, there will be plenty of reps to go around at defensive end and I’ve got a hunch Jelks will take advantage the most. He’s got some length and burst around the edge. I’ve got him making the team and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s active Week 1.
Mickey Spagnola: Opportunity will be the biggest deciding factor here, and while second-round pick Trysten Hill likely will be in a rotation at defensive tackle and third-round pick Connor McGovern is destined to backup duty on the offensive line, let’s go with fourth-rounder Tony Pollard. First of all, the backup running back position is wide open, with Pollard, fourth-year veteran Darius Jackson and seventh-rounder Mike Weber. So Pollard has a chance first to earn the backup job behind Zeke. His receiving versatility gives him an opportunity also for being incorporated into various offensive packages. And at this point, chances are he’s the leading candidate to return kickoffs. Opportunity knocks for Pollard since those draft picks after him will do well just to make the 53-man roster.