Part one of the rookie grading series focused on the Cowboys first three draft picks. Part two will examine their selections from the back half of the draft and their impacts on Dallas moving forward.
Ryan Switzer (Round 4 – Pick 27)
The curveball from the Dallas 2017 draft came with former University of North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer. As many anticipated Eagles running back Donnel Pumphrey to be the Cowboys fourth-round pick, the last minute trade up by Philadelphia would preclude that from happening. Switzer served as the dynamic gadget player many teams are trying to find now. A receiver, returner, and occasional running back in college, he brings a wide set of tools that can put him in multiple places.
With Cole Beasley currently on the roster, Switzer needed to make his name as a returner. At the beginning of the season, he had issues in knowing when to field the ball or not, that started to surrender crucial field position for Dallas. He returned seven punts for touchdowns in college and did not adjust to being a little less aggressive quite yet. While it can bring reward, it draws risk. After muffing a punt against the Los Angeles Rams in week four, people heckled, but teammates drew encouragement.
Switzer would finish on the season with only six catches for 41 yards and no touchdowns. However he averaged the third most yards per kick return in the league at 25. He totaled 856 yards in kick/punt returns, which would rank him seventh in the league as well. Though he did not do as well when returning punts, he did weave his way for a score on one of them, breaking a Dallas hiatus since 2013.
Xavier Woods (6th Round – Pick 7)
Who knew a sixth-round pick could be so desired during the draft process by a fanbase? Xavier Woods simply had a takeover on social media with fans wanting a star on his helmet. An intelligent, instinctual safety from Louisiana Tech, nobody in Dallas could comprehend how he slipped so far. Woods is the type of player who always seems to be around the ball.
With Heath and Jones locking down the safety positions, for now, the demoting of Anthony Brown allowed Woods to get more reps. Although his history suggests Woods is most comfortable as a strong safety, Marinelli would slide him into the nickel cornerback position. Proving his skills as a cover corner towards the end of the season, the major unexpected problem throughout the year was his tackling ability. In a defensive back, what can separate the average to the great ones, is knowing how to tackle receivers in the open field. More times than a coach would like, Woods was whiffing past opponents that could have been big stops. Though this seemed like a lasting issue with him, he would still rack up 31 solo tackles on the season, tenth on the team, while only playing 202 snaps (48 percent of the team’s season total).
He is a playmaker though, and the Cowboys possibly drafted themselves a steal.
Marquez White – Corner
Joey Ivie – DT
Noah Brown – WR
Jordan Carrell – DT
The Cowboys 2017 draft class would round out with these four. Noah Brown would receive the only significant playing time of the bunch, however. Mostly used in a blocking H-back type of role, Brown could definitely see his role expand in 2018. Marquez White is a candidate to make the squad next season after spending all of 2017 on the practice squad.