As Dallas gets ready to kick off the season Sunday, allow me to treat you to some bold predictions I have for three defensive players that I believe will have a break out year in 2018.
Jaylon Smith – LB
Smith has wholly changed since rocking a knee brace last year to now finally being 100%. There is a vast difference in his speed and movement that can be seen compared to the previous year. It was exciting to watch him in the preseason and to see him chase down RBs in the backfield and be able to fly everywhere to the ball. Smith is back to being the player everyone took note of at Notre Dame and considered to be a top 10 draft pick before his ACL/MCL injury in 2016. My bold prediction for Smith is that he will be the standout LB for the Cowboys even with a healthy Sean Lee, and will also be the critical reason to the defense’s success this year.
Chidobe Awuzie – CB
Out of the CB group, the most talked about name out of training camp and preseason was Chidobe Awuzie. Chido is the most improved CB out the young group for the Cowboys. Even if you take away the hype on the crazy interception catch he had in week 2 of the preseason, Chido still outshined the others in his coverage skills and technique. My bold prediction for Chido is that this will be the year he will establish himself as a shutdown corner and will lead the team in interceptions at the end of the season.
Antwaun Woods – DT
Mr. “Watch out don’t blink” has been the biggest surprise to come out of the preseason. True to his above statement in the blink of an eye, Woods has climbed his way up on the Cowboys depth chart. Perceived initially as added depth to the DT position, Woods quickly showed throughout camp and preseason that he would be a force to be reckoned with on the line. My bold prediction for Woods is that he will continue his success at DT, and will earn himself a contract extension by the end of the year accompanied by 5+ sacks.