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Mailbag: Week 1 Rookies; Free Agent Continues? 


Give us your bold and wild predictions. Out of all the rookies, who will be starting (or high snap count) by Week 1? By Week 18? — ADAM VOLPE / WHITMAN, MA

Nick: I would think we all know Tyler Smith is going to be playing left guard. He's if not, that is a problem. The player after that who will likely get the most snaps is Jalen Tolbert. He enters a situation where he should get tons of reps, if he's ready for it. I would imagine he will be and would guess that he'll get some special teams play as well. I also expect John Ridgeway to get a lot of reps for a late fifth-round pick. But if we're being honest, Devin Harper might get more snaps than anyone because he could be a plug-and-play guy on special teams from the jump.

Rob: It's fair to hope/expect the top four picks Tyler Smith, Sam Williams, Jalen Tolbert and Jake Ferguson all play significant snaps as early as Week 1. I don't think you draft Smith in the first round without thinking he can start at left guard as a rookie and transition to left tackle down the road. Williams should be a big part of the edge rusher rotation right away. Maybe Tolbert can step into Cedrick Wilson's previous role as a super sub. The Cowboys played two tight ends about 25% of the snaps last year, according to Sharp Football Analysis, so there's opportunity for Ferguson to play a decent amount behind Dalton Schultz, especially if he can produce as a blocker.

Stephen Jones claimed the Cowboys were not done with adding veterans through free agency prior to the draft. With the uncertainty of Kelvin Joseph's situation and no blue-chip linebackers selected in the draft (at least available to play in 2022), should we expect Dallas to fish in those waters in the near future? — ROB RIGGIERI / RUTLAND, MA

Nick: I'll probably regret saying this, but I would think they're probably done making any significant moves. We might see something here and there, but I'm not anticipating anything like that, especially since they drafted their guard and swing tackle. The only position I could see this happening is wide receiver maybe another veteran.

Rob: I don't think they're necessarily done in free agency either, but there's a difference between filling out your roster and stopping progress. The Cowboys drafted a lot of players they hope can address needs right away. I mentioned the top four picks above, and it sounds like they think fifth-round defensive tackle John Ridgeway can provide some run-stuffing production at 320 pounds. Not sure if fifth-round offensive tackle Matt Waletzko pushes for the backup swing tackle job in year one, but the Cowboys sound satisfied with their candidates at that position. They're also not ruling out Damone Clark returning from spinal fusion surgery at some point this year. They don't view linebacker as much of a significant numbers need because they play so much three-safety with Jayron Kearse often in the box.

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