Containing our excitement for a top ten talent is hard, especially when that talent falls into the Dallas Cowboys lap in the second round. Expectations are as high as the ceiling for rookie defensive end Randy Gregory, perhaps higher.
That being said, we must be careful to govern ourselves, as fans, and set realistic goals for our rookies – so as not to set them up for failure.
Gregory knows what his goals for himself are. Gregory knows what the coaches goals for him are. They may differ from our own, as the Cowboys staff has a better grasp of the role he’ll be used in.
Making predictions and setting standards is difficult when you don’t have all of the information going into the equation, but we can take a look around the league at other rookie 4-3 DEs, and gauge what an average rookie season could look like for Gregory.
Below you will see a chart of rookie 1st and 2nd round defensive ends (from 2009-2014). The rookies shown below played a large majority of snaps at 4-3 end. Listed along with their snap count for their rookie seasons, you will also see their sack total. I’ve set the minimum number of snaps taken in their rookie season at 200 to weed out those who, perhaps, only played 4-3 DE occasionally, in certain packages.
From the data above, we can clearly see that it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for Randy Gregory to have a strong showing at 4-3 DE this season from the Cowboys, totaling something like 500 snaps with about 4.5 sacks. While there are many factors that can change the data, and the outcome of Gregory’s season… this information can give us a tempered expectation for the player, and help gauge his performance against other 1st and 2nd round talents from previous years.
With these numbers in place, we can better ensure that we do not come out disappointed if his numbers fail to dazzle.
Five sacks may not seem like a lot, but trust that Gregory would be on par with others who’ve began their path as early round pass rushers in a 4-3.
In my personal opinion, five sacks from Gregory would be phenomenal from a rookie who would be playing in a rotation as deep as Dallas’.
My advice? Watch the young man without unrealistic expectations, and enjoy. Watching him grow is going to be exciting.