The offseason practices are in the rearview mirror as the Cowboys are heading towards training camp, which begins on July 24 in Oxnard, Calif.
That's usually the place where many of the questions regarding this team start to get answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2017 season.
Today, we continue the series discussing which Cowboys rookie will make the biggest impact this upcoming season.
*12) Which Rookie Will Be The Most Productive Player in 2017? *
Helman: It's hard to guarantee playing time for most of the guys in this rookie class. Taco Charlton is competing against a crowded defensive line, and the rookie defensive backs also have their work cut out to earn starting jobs. But Ryan Switzer is going to have every opportunity to earn a real job right away. Even if he can't get on the field as a wide receiver, he's got to be considered one of the favorites to be the starting punt returner. If he handles his business at training camp as well as he did during OTAs, he's going to find his way onto the field in one capacity or another. Maybe I'm setting the bar too high for a fourth-round pick, but I expect Switzer to get his crack at the return job. I also imagine he's capable of contributing another 10-to-15 receptions within the offense. He should have every opportunity to make a big impact right away.
Eatman: The easy answer is Switzer because he's the one doing most of the work in the offseason. Let's not forget both Beasley and Whitehead were out, giving him a ton of the reps. Yes, I think he'll have a role but it will be limited. The guy who will play the most is Chidobe Awuzie. Whether he starts at safety, or has a primary role in the nickel packages, his skill set of safety-corner is too much to overlook. I think he not only plays a ton on defense, but special teams as well. At the end of the day, he'll be the guy doing the most among the rookies.
Broaddus: Ryan Switzer might not be the most productive offensive player due to Cole Beasley playing the same position as he does. I just don't see Beasley coming off the field in those "11" personnel opportunities. Where Switzer has the best chance to help this team isn't as a part-time player on offense but as a full-time player on special teams. This return game needs a shot in the arm in the worst way and Switzer has the skills to do just that. His ability to carry the ball in the open field was well known while at North Carolina and there is no reason why that shouldn't carry over to the NFL as well. Ryan Switzer has a chance to be a difference maker in 2017.
Phillips:I agree with Nick: Chidobe Awuzie not only has a chance to win a starting job as an outside cornerback, but there's a chance the Cowboys play him some at safety in addition to special teams. Think about everything Byron Jones did for the secondary as a rookie two years ago. It's not a stretch to think Awuzie could have a similar role. Secondary coach Joe Baker said the coaching staff probably threw more at Awuzie in the early stages of OTAs than Jones two years ago -- a testament to Awuzie's versatility and football savvy. The organization has been impressed with this entire rookie class's ability to pick things up quickly. But based on his chance to start and make plays at multiple spots, I'll take Awuzie.