The Dallas Cowboys appeared to land one of their better rookie classes in 2020. And entering their collective second season, this group is chock full of contributors expected to make a big impact in year two. But which sophomore should feel the most pressure to perform in 2021?
Obviously, expectations are higher on those players chosen at the top of the draft. There’s little doubt that Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb feels pressure to live up to his first-round billing as the 17th overall selection. Yet, Lamb is coming off a good rookie season where he recorded 74 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns.
Lamb is also surrounded by a plethora of playmakers, making his contribution less important than others surround by lesser talent. That seems to be the case for the Cowboys’ second-round selection, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Diggs is seemingly viewed as the team’s top cornerback after the Cowboys chose not to re-sign free agent defensive back Chidobe Awuzie this offseason. The 22-year old Diggs was pressed into early action as a rookie and showed promise, leading the team with three interceptions. But his level of play was also inconsistent.
With the team being unable to land a top-tier cornerback to pair with Diggs in the first round of April’s draft, the second-year corner will certainly bear the burden as the number one option at the position. But perhaps second-year center Tyler Biadasz feels more pressure to replace an All-Pro in the now-retired Travis Frederick.
After all, that was the expectation when the Cowboys drafted Biadasz in the fourth round out of the very same school Frederick came from, Wisconsin. But the rookie started just four games at the position in 2020, with the team seemingly being more comfortable with veteran Joe Looney taking on the bulk of those duties.
With Looney currently being a free agent, the onus of the starting role as the center for quarterback Dak Prescott seeming falls on the 23-year old Biadasz. And there is certainly a massive amount of pressure to perform considering the struggles the offensive line went through last year.
But maybe the most pressure is on last year’s rookies who might not even make it through final cuts this summer. That includes the likes of fourth-round selection Reggie Robinson II, whose shifting from cornerback to safety and then back to corner could have him on the outside looking in at both positions.
With the Dallas Cowboys hiring Dan Quinn, the team’s third defensive coordinator in as many years, last season’s defensive rookies will now have to impress a new DC. That could have players like Robinson, fifth-round defensive end Bradlee Anae, and undrafted linebacker Francis Bernard on the roster bubble this summer.