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4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl

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.

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl

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.

Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl 1Again, the Dallas Cowboys sent several of their players to the Pro Bowl the following season in 2015.

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

Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl 2Byron Jones was drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the Dallas Cowboys 27th overall draft pick.

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

Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl 3Tyrone Crawford should be 100% healthy once the 2016 season kicks off and he should be a huge reason why the defense will be successful.

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

Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl 4La'el Collins is entering his second season in the NFL, but is first full season as a starter at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys.

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

Cowboys Headlines - 4 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl 5Ezekiel 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.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!



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