The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to sending several of their players to the Pro Bowl each year and despite the drastically different seasons the last two years, the Cowboys still had quite a few players headed to Hawaii.
Just in case you may have forgotten, the Cowboys finished with a winning record of 12-4 in 2014, but the following season in 2015 those numbers flip-flopped and they finished with a losing record of 4-12.
I guess I'm just like any other fan and I really enjoy the anticipation of finding out who might be voted into the Pro Bowl each year, but it's those first year participants that I truly enjoy finding out about.
After the completion of the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys had six players voted into the Pro Bowl. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin all made the trip to Hawaii. This of course was the first time for both Frederick and Martin to be voted in, making it a truly special event for the two of them.
Despite the 4-12 record, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Dan Bailey, and Sean Lee all traveled to Hawaii.
This was the first time Sean Lee was voted in. It probably would have happened much sooner, but his struggle with injuries have cut several of his seasons short and prevented his Pro Bowl chances.
Sean Lee's first trip to the Pro Bowl started me thinking about which current Dallas Cowboys players have the best chance to make their first trip to the Pro Bowl?
Well, I came up with four players that I think have a really good chance to make their first trip to the Pro Bowl after the completion of the 2016 season.
Byron Jones, FS
I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when the announcement was made. Jones was my choice to be the Cowboys first-round draft pick all along and after the completion of his first year in the NFL, I think that selection has now been justified.
As a rookie, Jones had 66 tackles and nine pass deflections while playing several positions in the Cowboys secondary. Jones played free safety, outside cornerback, slot cornerback, and even some dime linebacker in 2015. His versatility was a welcomed addition to the Cowboys defense.
For the upcoming 2016 season he should only have to focus solely on the free safety position and that should not only bring out the best in Jones as a player, but also help solidify the backend of the Cowboys defense.
I for one have high expectations for Jones in 2016 and that is why I'm predicting he gets voted into his first Pro Bowl.
Tyrone Crawford, DT
Crawford battled through a shoulder injury the majority of the 2015 season and it really had an impact on his effectiveness to make plays in the backfield and rush the passer. Despite battling through an injury, Crawford still managed 35 tackles and five quarterback sacks.
I'm actually expecting a bigger impact from Crawford in the 2016 season now that the Cowboys have upgraded the 1-tech with free-agent signee Cedric Thorton and I don't think it's out of the question to think that he could possibly reach double-digit QB sacks.
Remember, Jason Hatcher accumulated 11 quarterback sacks as a member of the Cowboys in 2013.
It will be difficult for Crawford to be voted into the Pro Bowl as a defensive tackle, but I think he has a really good chance if he can remain healthy the entire season.
La'el Collins, G
The Cowboys already have three Pro Bowl players along the offensive line in Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith, and Zack Martin, but there is reason to believe that Collins could join the three after the completion of the 2016 season.
Collins started 11 games as a rookie for the Cowboys in 2015 and put together quite a few highlight reels during that time span. He still had his rookie moments though and will need to improve some of those problem areas in order to reach his full potential.
Collins was believed to have been a top 10-15 talent coming out LSU and it's that talent that could help carry him to his first Pro Bowl bid in his second season in the NFL.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Ezekiel Elliott put together quite an impressive resume in college as an Ohio State Buckeye, and that is one of the reasons why the Dallas Cowboys believed he was a perfect fit to be the future running back for the organization.
Elliott has a perfect blend of agility, power, and elusiveness. He should be a better fit than Darren McFadden as a RB in the zone blocking scheme that the Cowboys use and running behind the Cowboys dominant offensive line should help Elliott not only compete for rookie of the year, but his first Pro Bowl as well.
Elliott's running style and the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive line should help complement each other and be the driving force that leads the entire offense in 2016.
Look for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to get back to the 2014 blueprint that worked so well for them and that blueprint should also help benefit Elliott's bid to his first Pro Bowl.
Do you agree or disagree with these first year Pro Bowl candidates?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to provide your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier
With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.
If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.
These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.
Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.
All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.
Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.
Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.
If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.
Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.
Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout
Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.
This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.
"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.
Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.
We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.
You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
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