As their season-opener against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants approaches, all eyes are on the Dallas Cowboys to see if their crop of rookies can make an impact on a team that went a disappointing 8-8 last year.
Here are the four rookies who could really make their presence felt immediately during the season.
It was unexpected on the part of Jerry Jones when he traded up during the draft for the LSU cornerback. With a lackluster defense last year, Jones, more than anybody, knows this team needs some work.
Though he’s struggling in camp right now and making a lot of fans question whether he’s better than Mike Jenkins, look for Claiborne to really take off midseason when he starts challenging receivers more with tips and blocked passes.
Initially, Wilber will be making his presence felt on special teams, but toward the end of the season, expect him to feature in a DE/OLB rotation.
On special teams Wilber has the athletic ability to block a kick or two. The Cowboys have struggled with special teams, so they are in desperate need of an impact player.
Wilber has the skills to assume an immediate leadership role and really give the Cowboys an edge they’ve lacked, thus far, on special teams.
Initially, the consensus was for Crawford not to have much of an impact this season. In spite of his limited time playing college football (he started 11 games at Boise State after transferring from junior college) and sustaining a calf injury last month, he’s emerged as a pleasant surprise from training camp because of his quickness.
With some more focus from the defensive coaching staff, Crawford could become a versatile pass-rusher.
Currently, Hanna is fighting for a spot on the roster as the third TE behind Jason Witten and John Philips.
After losing Martellus Bennett, a disappointment at the position, the Cowboys were in need of another TE.
One of Hanna’s biggest assets is his speed. It’d be hard for the Cowboys offensive to overlook what Hanna could do, but it’s possible they’d want to bring in a veteran TE.