Dallas Cowboys: Second year players on the rise

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins fumbles the ball after a hit by Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins fumbles the ball after a hit by Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys will have some sophomore players in pretty big roles this season. Let’s take a look at some of the most important second-year players.

The Dallas Cowboys have several players who are entering their sophomore season in the NFL. This will be the first season in which we really can look for development amongst the young players on this roster and actually expect growth.

For certain players, you have to play your best football during training camp as you could be on the roster bubble. For others it is more about proving that they can be reliable and productive starters for this team for years to come.

With that said, let’s take a look some players who are poised to have a big second year with the Dallas Cowboys.

Noah Brown: The Cowboys have added a ton of talent to their wide receiving corps this offseason but they have also lost a few big targets. Jason Witten and Dez Bryant being off the team free up a lot of targets for the other players in this offense.

This is crucial for players trying to make the team and this could be the year that Noah Brown finally gets an opportunity to show off what he can do. Brown has been my favorite bubble receiver for some time, you could even argue he may make more of an impact on the game day roster than Terrance Williams, but that is for another day.

The former seventh-round pick should have a ton of time to make an impression during OTA’s and training camp as Williams will likely miss a ton of time with a foot injury. That should give Brown the extra snaps needed to make this team as he continually shows that he can be a factor in passing situations.

He still has stuff to work on but at 22 years old there is plenty of time for improvement. This is one of the more important training camps for Brown as he will likely have the biggest opportunity to make an impression during the 2018 offseason/regular season.

Taco Charlton: The former Michigan pass rusher struggled a bit in 2017. He was not the dynamic, consistent force off the edge many fans thought, instead he was a bit more of a project. The Cowboys coaching staff is aware of this and Rod Marinelli has done a great job at scheming for ways to help enhance Charlton and put him in positions to succeed.

Charlton has to also work on his mechanics, even though things began to come together for him towards the end of the 2017 season. Expect Charlton to immediately come out hot as he fights for snaps with Tyrone Crawford and Kony Ealy.

The Dallas Cowboys are pretty deep at the defensive end position this season so constant rotations along the defensive line should be a common occurrence this year. The added addition of defensive end Dorance Armstrong from Kansas has to be a little extra incentive for Charlton to come out of the gates hot this season. If Taco can show consistency earlier on during training camp, he could be one of the favorites to be the sack leader for this defensive unit. 

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Xavier Woods: Much like Taco, Woods is in an important year of his career. The Dallas Cowboys are presumably seeing him as a starter and he should line up next to Jeff Heath on opening day. That would be huge for him as Woods has already shown some ball hawking skills.

Currently, he is the player most people are comfortable with in a starting role as Kavon Frazier is more of a sub package guy. Woods was thought very highly of coming out of college and if he can cover he could be the type of player the Cowboys are looking to fill that role.

There are not a lot of other names that make sense in a starting role at safety and unless Byron Jones is moved back Woods will most likely be your guy. There have been rumors that Chidobe Awuzie could potentially handle that role, but I have to believe that the Dallas Cowboys like him more at corner than safety.

In a pinch, Awuzie could play safety but that should be for emergency purposes only. Woods will likely come into camp with the starting role and it will take a lot for him to lose it. If he has a good season, he could be the Cowboys starting safety for years to come.

Jourdan Lewis/Chidobe Awuzie: Here are my two favorite players on this list, Lewis, and Awuzie will forever be linked as the Cowboys second and third round picks. So they will be somewhat linked to each other for the remainder of their NFL careers. Both players looked incredibly good towards the end of the 2017 season. These two are the future of the Dallas Cowboys secondary.

They will enter the 2018 season most likely with starting roles that will be theirs to lose. Both men love to fight even with Lewis getting in Dez Bryant’s face several times during the 2017 season. Lewis does not back down and could be considered the Cowboys second best corner (assuming Byron Jones excels in his new role).

In terms of competition, Anthony Brown and Jones will likely be their biggest competition but there should be plenty of snaps to go around. I am sure that the Cowboys new secondary coach Kris Richard will give everyone a chance to make an impression.

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But realistically by the end of the season, Lewis and Chido could be the backbone of the secondary.