While the Cowboys only had six draft picks this year, it feels like they have a much larger rookie class. In 2009, the Cowboys drafted eight players, none higher than the third round. Of those eight, three missed the entire season on IR, one was cut, one was injured much of the season and then failed to make an impact, and only three had any kind of impact on the team at all during the season. The most notable contributor from last year’s class would have to be K David Buehler. Buehler led the league in touchbacks and often pinned the opposition deep with his kicks. Linebacker Victor Butler also made an impact recording 3.0 sacks and forcing a fumble. Safety Mike Hamlin was the only other player to really play, and that was all special teams play.
With so many rookies either missing the season or hardly playing last year, they are looking at this year as an opportunity to really step up and contribute. No one is looking more forward to that than the two LB’s who share the last name Williams. Jason, drafted in the third round, missed a lot of action with injury last season and is hoping to rebound this season. While he played in five games, he didn’t establish himself in any kind of role, other than special teams. While Williams is hoping to rebound this season and get in some playing time on sub-packages it is unlikely he will gather a lot of playing time, on defence anyway, with the likes of James, Brooking and, this years 2nd rounder, Sean Lee ahead of him.
Fellow linebacker Brandon Williams is in the same boat. Brandon missed the entire season after tearing the ACL in his knee during training camp. Williams, who is a pass rusher, is looking to make the switch from college DE to OLB in the Cowboys 3-4 scheme. Williams had never suffered more than a twisted ankle until his knee injury. As most people who have torn an ACL know, it takes almost a full year to get comfortable again. According to the coaching staff, Williams is well on his way, “He seems to be back where he was last year at this time, and that was a good place,” Phillips said, “because he’s exceptionally quick off the ball. He’s got a lot of skills pass-rush wise. It’s good to see him back.”
The other two players the Cowboys are looking forward to getting back are fellow linebacker Stephen Hodge and offensive tackle Robert Brewster. Hodge was out all last year with a knee injury and micro-fracture surgery. He won’t be ready to resume practicing until camp starts in July. Brewster missed the season after tearing a pectoral muscle and has impressed in OTA’s since returning to the line-up. The Cowboys hope Brewster will step in as a swing tackle, he has also gotten some reps at guard.
With all these players returning to the lineup it is like the Cowboys had 12 picks in this past draft.