FRISCO, Texas – It's that time once again.
Another season of The Draft Show
began on Tuesday, as the process of preparing for the 2022 NFL Draft is already underway.
Before that begins in earnest, though, it feels worthwhile to look back at what the Cowboys got from their 2021 draft class – from the first round all the way down.
Here's an assessment of where things stand for the Cowboys' rookies, as they head into Year 2.
Micah Parsons – We don't need to spend a ton of time on this. Micah Parsons was seen by many as a consolation prize for missing out on the draft's top two corners, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II. Flash forward nine months, and Parsons looks to be one of the most exciting defenders in the NFL. He's going to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he has a great case to be considered for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Cowboys appear to have found a rare talent that they can deploy as both an instinctive linebacker and an explosive edge rusher.
Kelvin Joseph – Through no fault of his own, Joseph's opportunities were limited as a rookie. For starters, Anthony Brown took a starting job and ran with it under Dan Quinn's guidance. On top of that, a groin injury sidelined Joseph for the first half of the season, making it unlikely he'd ever gain ground. He did get a shot at the end of the regular season, playing 150 snaps in the final three weeks, and he seemed to perform well. Still, there's a lot more to be learned in 2022.
Osa Odighizuwa – A promising rookie season for the UCLA defensive tackle, though it might be fair to wonder if Odighizuwa hit the famous rookie wall. Injuries gave him an opportunity to start, and he made the most of that chance. Odighizuwa tallied two sacks and eight quarterback hits in the first five weeks of the season. It's fair to point out that the return of Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore from injury cut into his snap count, but he managed just four quarterback hits and no sacks the rest of the way. All of that said, Odighizuwa played in 16 games, started 12 and contributed in each. That's a promising start for a third-round pick.
Chauncey Golston – Much like Odighizuwa, Golston's role seemed to decrease as the Cowboys' defensive line got healthier in the back half of the year. It's important to note, though, that Golston did not have a training camp due to a hamstring injury – and he still managed to contribute regularly as a rookie. And while he might have only finished with four quarterback hits and half a sack, he did have some big flash plays. Golston had a key fumble recovery in the win at New England, and he was on hand to recover a blocked punt for a touchdown in the big home win against Washington.
Nahshon Wright – Wright was seen as a developmental prospect when he was drafted, and that proved to be the case. He did play in 13 games, but he was largely reduced to a special teams role – though he was one of the 22 players to score a touchdown this season, when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone against Atlanta. He only played 91 snaps of defense, and 74 of those came in the season finale against Philadelphia's backups. How he progresses in Year 2, potentially with new coaching in place, is something to watch.
Jabril Cox – Losing Cox to a torn ACL at the midpoint of the season was a sneaky big development. He mainly played special teams when healthy, but injuries in the linebacker corps very likely would've given him an opportunity at playing time in November and December. Instead, his rehab will be a focus this offseason, as he figures to compete for a starting spot in Year, once he's fully healthy.
Josh Ball – A true redshirt season. To put it simply, we just didn't learn much about a guy who spent the season on injured reserve. Ball suffered a sprained ankle during the second preseason game against Arizona. And while the team did activate his practice window in the final few weeks of the season, he never returned from the roster. It's a good guess that, based on what we saw from OTAs and the early part of training camp, Ball is a guy that could use some time in a full NFL offseason program. He'll be one of several contenders for a depth spot on next year's offensive line.
Simi Fehoko – Poor Simi. He had a solid training camp, and his talent was intriguing enough to earn him a roster spot. But on a unit as deep as this year's receiver corps, the rookie was a healthy inactive 11 times and wound up playing a mere seven offensive snaps. That said, it's encouraging that the front office liked him enough to keep him around. With several veteran receivers heading for free agency, Fehoko figures to have a huge chance to earn a larger role in 2022.
Quinton Bohanna – Given his unique and massive body type, Bohanna was one of the more intriguing members of this year's class – a true nose tackle, which is something the Cowboys have rarely had in recent years. Much like his rookie counterparts, Bohanna saw extended playing time early on because of injuries. His snap count decreased as the season went, and he was inactive for the last two games of the year. Another contender for extended playing time following a year in the Cowboys' program.
Israel Mukuamu – Much like Fehoko, Mukuamu was good enough to remain on the roster all season, but he participated in just four games. Most of that activity came on special teams. His 6'4 frame offers plenty of intrigue, and he did have a productive training camp. Time will tell where he's situated on a safety depth chart that is currently quite thin, with several impending free agents.
Matt Farniok – Thanks to blowouts in the last few weeks of the season, Farniok actually got some playing time in the tail end of some lopsided games. Most notably, he played 11 snaps of center in the fourth quarter at Philadelphia and seemed to play well. Farniok has often been overlooked this season because of his status as last of 11 draft picks. But much like Ball, he should have every opportunity to fight for a role on next year's offensive line.