In the past, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has talked about how the rookies must earn the star on their helmet. Evidently Garrett may have been an Eagle Scout or something, but in the spirit of that idea, I’m taking a look at how each rookie performed in mini camp and then rate how far along they are to earning their star.
I’m going to go in the order each player was drafted. As a player gets closer to defining his role on the team, I believe he gets closer to earning a star.
1. Travis Frederick- 1/2 STAR
The top pick of the Cowboys was drafted to take over the center position but so far in camp his reviews have been mixed. As advertised, Frederick is intelligent and capable of making the blocking calls at the line. There will be no issues with him learning the offense or play book. But in scrimmages he has looked a little slow for the NFL level as at times players shoot past him.
I still think Frederick will start at center for Dallas but he has yet to pull away from Costa to take that spot. When the Cowboys begin preseason camp, Frederick will need to step up and take ownership of that center spot to get his full star.
2. Gavin Escobar- 3/4 STAR
Of all the rookies in mini camp, Escobar may have shined the most. I noticed in his college games that he not only caught passes he should catch but often caught many that he shouldn’t catch. During camp, Escobar displayed those same nice hands for the coaches. While Escobar has some developing to do in his blocking, I think Jason will find a way to incorporate him in the offense right away.
With his 6’6″ height and soft hands, it’s easy to picture Escobar becoming a favorite target of Romo’s especially in the redzone. Escobar is well on his way to getting that star.
3. Terrance Williams- 1/3 STAR
Williams had an impressive career as a WR at Baylor but the fact is he got off to a slow start in mini camp. Sloppy route running had to be addressed and he dropped passes as well. I pointed out after Williams was drafted, that he had a tendency to catch the ball near his body which can lead to drops.
Williams came on strong toward the end of workouts and showed that he can be coached. I still believe Williams will help the Cowboys this season but for now, he is far behind thrid WR Dewayne Harris. Williams will need to get off to a better start during preseason camp to get his star.
4. J.J. Wilcox- 2/3 STAR
Of all the rookies, I think Wilcox may have helped himself the most during mini camp. Wilcox comes in with little experience at safety but what he showed was he has a natural ability to get to the football. Those nose for the ball instincts are not easily taught and will be needed in the new Tampa 2 defense. Having a ball hawk type safety is a must and Wilcox is showing he can do that in this defense. I like his chances of contributing as a kickoff returner too.
While Wilcox still has an awful lot to learn, he is now in the conversation as a starting safety. I think he is well on his way to getting his star.
5. B.W. Webb- 1/2 STAR
One advantage Webb has over the current Cowboy DBs, is that he is a good fit in the zone type coverages that Dallas is moving to in Kiffin’s defense. Claiborne and Carr were brought into be more of a press cover for Ryan’s defense so Webb has looked good in camp so far in fact, impressing Kiffin a great deal. Webb is athletic and has moved well in mini camp but I think his poor tackling could be exposed when the tackling starts in preseason camp.
Webb is off to a good start but needs to find his role in the secondary when camp begins, in order to earn his star. I am impressed with his punt return skills which could be a way for him to contribute, as well.
6. Joseph Randle- 0 STAR
As they say in the NFL, “can’t make the club in the tub”. Unfortunately a thumb injury has kept Randle from fully participating and that puts him way behind. While not expected to start at RB, he is expected to replace Felix Jones in the Cowboys offense and be in the rotation. His absence has opened the door for Dunbar, an undrafted rookie last season with blazing speed. Randle has running and catching skills that give the strong impression that he can contribute right away but currently, he is the third string RB at best. He must show the coaches something when camp begins.
Randle is one guy that really needs to literally hit the ground running in preseason camp in order to earn a star.
7. DeVonte Holloman- 1/2 STAR
Holloman has gotten noticed in mini camp as a LB with above average cover skills. And when the tackling begins in preseason camp, I think the coaches will like Holloman even more. At this early point, it’s not clear what Holloman’s role will be in the defense but I believe any defense can use a guy who can cover and is a sure open field tackler.
Holloman is off to a good start but will need to start carving out his spot in the defense to get his star. He is also very capable of contributing on special teams.