in

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the and the future of their .

Could their stay intact when the annual occurred? Was going to lead the young to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise of America’s Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, questioned how valuable an off-ball would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it’s easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the during his season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to full time, it was do-or-die for the former pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

, , and (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another during the , however, though remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it’s justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a , and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can’t second guess this decision much at all.

What do you think?

Avatar

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys

5 Potential Candidates to Replace Cowboys OC Scott Linehan

5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan