The delusion of Jerry Jones: Why setting any expectations for undrafted free agents is a disaster waiting to happen.

“We have a young team”

The Cowboys have a young team, a VERY young team. In fact for the first time in his career Prescott is older than every receiver, tight end, and running back currently on the roster. This overall lack of experience should be alarming for any fan expecting the Cowboys to capture their elusive 6th title. The last two Super Bowls have been won by veteran teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams, who added the lion’s share of their core contributors through free agency. While the Cowboy’s still have an opportunity to add veteran players to upgrade their roster, Jerry Jones seems to have put his faith in the young guys, drafted and undrafted alike. During the interview that he gave today, 6/18/2022, Jones directly speaks on the youth of this year’ team and his expectations that the draft picks and undrafted players will contribute. This train of thought will be what undermines the Cowboy’s season.

Growing Pains

Trevon Diggs is an all pro corner today but he STRUGGLED his first year

Their is a gap in level of play between college football and the NFL that is not fathomable. The speed, intensity, and the strength of opposing players is often overwhelming to young players entering the league. There in lies the problem in expecting contributions from first year players. It may take a season or two before they become accustomed to the NFL level of play. Trevon Diggs’ first year in the league is a perfect example. In just 11 games Diggs allowed 5 touchdowns, 667 yards, and an 85.8 passer rating when targeted. While Diggs bounced back and had a historic season intercepting the ball it took him time to transition from a liability to a player who could contribute on a winning team. There are exceptions to the rules such as Micah Parsons but players like that very rarely come along. To add to that many of the players Jones is referring to are not as talented as Diggs or Parsons. Both players had first round grades coming out of college (Diggs falling to the 2nd was one of the biggest surprises of that year’s draft); Jones stated he expected UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS to contribute. The gap in talent between first round talents and guys who are competing just to make the team is night and day.

Undrafted Players Barely make the Team, Rarely Contribute to Super Bowls

Kurt Warner, The Only Undrafted QB to start and win a Super Bowl

70 percent of every player in the league was a draft selection. Only 30 percent of the league is comprised of undrafted free agents and an even smaller percentage actually plays any meaningful reps. With training camp still pending it is hard to believe Jerry Jones is rational in his assessment that “College Free Agents” as he calls them, will contribute when most will probably not make the team. The only expectation for an undrafted rookie should be that they find a way to make the roster or the practice squad. Anything further is unrealistic a majority of the time.

What to expect from the rookies?

Managing expectations for the rookie class is important. While there are prospects with potential there is no guarantee they will be ready to contribute their first year. For example Jalen Tolbert should be expected to make a couple plays and nothing more. With the departure of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson and the injury to Michael Gallup it is highly likely Jalen Tolbert will receive a considerable amount of playing time. Even with him being forced into action the expectations shouldn’t be that he’ll top 1000 yards or reach double digit touchdowns. The only expectation for a rookie player should be to get on the field, incrementally improve week to week, and occasionally make a play for the team. Entrusting players with no experience with the faith of your season instead of acquiring veterans is unprecedented and will leave the Cowboys short of their ultimate goal.

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