Rookie report: Grading all 11 of the Dallas Cowboys 2021 draft picks after three preseason games

Dan Rogers

With training camp in Oxnard over and done with and three preseason games under their belt, we are starting to get a better idea of what the 2021 version of the Dallas Cowboys could look like. We've seen most of their draft picks in action and that has allowed us to confirm or debunk some of the excitement or skepticism some of these new players have brought us. Today, we're going to run down all the Cowboys' draft picks and assign grades based on what we've witnessed thus far.

Micah Parsons (1st round, 12th overall)

Full disclosure, I begrudgingly admit I was not excited when the Cowboys selected Parsons with the team's most valuable draft resource. Granted, part of that resulted from the shock of having cornerback Patrick Surtain stolen right before the Cowboys were up, but part of it also resulted from some of the mental/maturity apprehensions I had with the Penn State linebacker.

Needless to say, I feel a lot better now. Parsons is such an athletic freak that he can do so much on the football field. And the coaching staff is doing a great job exploring all avenues to maximize what he can do on defense. He's exhibiting his upside without showing any of the mental lapses he's fell victim to in college. His athleticism is making up for any of those deficiencies and it's so nice to see a Cowboys linebacker chase people on the opponent's side of the line of scrimmage. He's rapidly emerging as one of the Cowboys' top defenders.

Grade: A+

Kelvin Joseph (2nd round, 44th overall)

It's not all that surprising that Joseph is slow out of the gate as this was a known issue based on his limited experience in college. The hope was that he would eventually come along and work himself into the starting lineup at some point in the season. Based on what we've seen thus far, that might come later versus sooner.

Joseph hasn't been terrible. Yes, he had a senseless holding penalty and he's been beaten a few times. On Saturday night in the dress rehearsal game, he never saw the field in the first half with any of the starters as the team went with Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown on the outside. Unlike other position battles (like LB for example) where there's a healthy mix, the coaches seem to know where they are at and all things are pointing to Joseph being relegated to a reserve role for the foreseeable future.

Grade: C-

Osa Odighizuwa (3rd round, 75th overall)

On paper, the Cowboys have a flux of 3-tech defensive tackle options. Unfortunately, two of them - Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore, aren't healthy. This leaves a golden opportunity for the rookie from UCLA to take advantage. And take advantage, he is.

There was this belief that Odighizuwa wasn't used right in college and that the Cowboys plan to remedy that. That may be a real possibility because he's having a great summer so far and is proving himself to be more and more disruptive with each new snap. Against the Texans, Osa was a force in the middle.

Grade: B+

Chauncey Golston (3rd round, 84th overall)

The Cowboys selected two defensive linemen in the third round this year with Iowa's Chauncey Golston being the other one. We haven't had a chance to see Golston in action yet because he injured his hamstring on the first day of practice when the team arrived in Oxnard. He was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and it's unclear what the team has planned for him. He might end up being placed on injured reserve so they can stash him for next year if they feel he doesn't have much of a chance of contributing this season.

Grade: Incomplete
Cowboys rookie corners Nahshon Wright and Kelvin Joseph@GehlkenNFL / Twitter

Nahshon Wright (3rd round, 99th overall)

The cornerback from Oregon State has been heavily scrutinized ever since he was drafted as many had never heard of him. After generating some nice buzz in camp, the Wright hype has cooled a bit as we've seen both good and bad. There are times where his size hinders his ability to quickly change direction and receivers create too much separation. At the same time, he has used his size and closing speed to make some good plays. He's still a work in progress and he's running with the backups, so like Joseph, I wouldn't expect to see much of him early on.

Grade: C

Jabril Cox (4th round, 115th overall)

The Cowboys found a gift in the fourth round when LSU's Jabril Cox was still available. With newcomers Parsons and free agent Keanu Neal already stirring up the linebacker position group, the other rookie isn't just sitting there quietly. Cox has impressed in two straight preseason games as his speed has been on display.

Similar to Parsons, we're not seeing the negatives where he sometimes gets washed out of plays. And like Parsons, we're getting a heavy dose of what having a fast linebacker can do for the defense. If he keeps playing like this, don't be surprised if he challenges some of the vets for playing time as it would be a mistake to keep this guy off the field.

Grade: A

Josh Ball (4th round, 138th overall)

Like Cox, the Marshall offensive tackle was also selected in the fourth round. Sadly, Ball has been out several weeks with an ankle sprain. That's unfortunate too because it would be nice to get him some reps so he can move forward with his development. The Cowboys' offensive tackle position is still looking for a bonafide swing tackle, but it's hard seeing Ball being anywhere close to being ready this year. It's looking more and more like he could be another IR designate for the Cowboys.

Grade: Incomplete

Simi Fehoko (5th round, 179th overall)

It was easy to be excited about the selection of Stanford's star receiver so late in the draft, but so far, the Cowboys are getting what they paid for. Fehoko is still raw and it shows and he's exhibiting the typical rookie growing pains. While viewed as a roster lock initially, that may not be the case anymore. Both Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown have all but secured spots on the team and if the team opts to keep six wide receivers, Fehoko still has Malik Turner in his way as well.

It's hard to say how this will play out. Turner is the obvious better player right now and has special teams value, but Fehoko has better upside. Should the Cowboys cut him, he might not clear waivers in order to sign him to the practice squad. This final preseason game could be the difference-maker in how the Cowboys proceed with this situation.

Grade: C

Quinton Bohanna (6th round, 192nd overall)

Despite being a late-round draft pick, Bohanna's chances to work himself into the rotation seemed reasonable because the team had no clear 1-tech defensive tackle. He has made some plays and really showed up in the Arizona game. On Saturday against the Texans, he only logged 17 plays which were the lowest of all the defensive tackles. He was out-snapped by more than 2:1 by veteran Justin Hamilton. Bohanna is still young and has a ways to go, but his roster spot is safe and the Cowboys should feel really good about this pick.

Grade: B

Israel Mukuamu (6th round, 227th overall)

We haven't seen that much from the South Carolina safety. He doesn't play much and when he's in, he doesn't really see much action. He only played 10 snaps against Houston, all in the second half. No other offensive/defensive player logged fewer snaps than Mukuamu.

People seem content with penciling him in as a roster lock, but I'm not so sure. The Cowboys actually have a handful of solid safety options and all of them won't make the team. While he is a nice player to have for the future, he could be headed for the practice squad.

Grade: C

Matt Farniok (7th round, 238th overall)

Initially, Farniok looked like a flyer who could potentially make the practice squad. However, there have been times where he's shown some nice growth, and attempting to stash him might be risky. Farniok can play center and the team is still trying to work out their backup center situation by giving Connor Williams reps. With Ball a potential IR candidate and the Cowboys front office wanting to preserve their depth, it wouldn't surprise me if Farniok made the team. Either way, he's shown some nice improvement and could be a part of the team's offensive line plans in the future.

Grade: B

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