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JJT: Cowboys Expect Several Rookies to Make Impact in 2018

Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys, first-round draft pick, will be one of several rookies making his debut Thursday night when the Cowboys open up the preseason against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cowboys are counting on several rookies to make significant contributions this season.

Here's a look at how the Cowboys' rookie have fared in training camp:

Leighton Vander Esch (1st round): Coach Jason Garrett said Vander Esch is just starting to get familiar enough with what the Cowboys are doing to show his ability to go sideline-to-sideline and make plays as well as his proficiency in coverage. Vander Esch has spent his time working at middle linebacker and weak side linebacker. He's been on the second-team at each position, which allows him to call the signals on defense, one of the tasks the middle linebacker must do.

Connor Williams (2nd round): Williams has been a plug-and-play starter at left guard since the first OTA session this offseason. He's been excellent in practice, made few mental mistakes and has been accepted by a group with three perennial Pro Bowl players. He needs to get stronger because at guard he must deal with more powerful players than at tackle - his position in college - where he deal with players who relied more on speed.

Michael Gallup (3rd round): There's no doubt Gallup has been one of the most talked about players in camp. He's a fluid athlete who runs good routes and has a knack for getting open. He already seems to have developed a solid rapport with Dak Prescott, and it would surprise no one if he winds up catching more than 60 balls for more than 700 yards as a rookie.

Dorrance Armstong (fourth round): On draft day, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said he had unique pass-rushing abilities. Well, he's showed them in training camp and that's led to members of the front office raising expectations. The coaching staff loves his work-ethic and approach and they think he can help the pass rush. Armstrong said he relied so much on athleticism in college that he never really worked on getting off the ball quickly. Now, that's a top priority, especially since defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli demands it. If he can get into the defensive line rotation, he's had a great camp.

Dalton Schultz (fourth round): He's done a solid job in training camp, but most of the help he will provide this season will come as a blocker and on special teams. He's the third tight end behind Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin.

Mike White (fifth round): The Cowboys absolutely love the way he can throw the ball. He has a strong arm and has done a good job during training camp. The toughest part of the transition to the NFL for White has been literally calling the plays and getting the verbiage down correctly and concisely in the huddle. At Western Kentucky, they used signals and cards from the sideline, so he didn't have to do it as much. He's been better in individual drills than team drills, but the Cowboys love his potential.

Chris Covington (sixth round): He's been sick for about a week with bronchitis and hasn't practiced. His role this year is going to be on special teams, but the sooner he can return to practice the better.

Cedrick Wilson (sixth round): The Cowboys have placed him on injured reserve (shoulder), which is actually good for him. He was going to have a nearly-impossible time making the team, and this gives him a red-shirt year to get bigger and stronger.

Bo Scarbrough (seventh round): He's actually impressed the Cowboys by being more than a straight line runner. He's big, strong and powerful and his hands are better than the Cowboys thought. Still, he's going to have to prove something on special teams to make the team and have a role on Sundays. He needs to be on every special teams unit because carries are tough to come by with Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith as the top two runners.

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