The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers about sending several of their players to the Pro Bowl year after year. Even when they don't have a good season as a team, they still end up with more than a few Pro Bowlers. It could be because of the voting system and the worldwide popularity of the Cowboys brand, but I choose to believe it's because of the talent they have on the roster.
Last year in 2017 the Cowboys didn't enjoy the kind of success they wanted to as a team, but they still ended up sending four players to the Pro Bowl. The mainstays of course are Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, but I really enjoy seeing a first timer make their first appearance. That is exactly what DeMarcus Lawrence accomplished last year.
No one really saw Lawrence as a potential Pro Bowl player before the 2017 season started. In fact, a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans were questioning if he would even make the final 53-man roster. Well, things couldn't have worked out better for #90, because he had a phenomenal season and ended up as one of the best defensive ends the entire league.
Today, I want to take a look at the Dallas Cowboys roster and try to determine who might follow in DeMarcus Lawrence's footsteps and earn their first Pro Bowl bid. You may agree or disagree with me, but I think the Cowboys have six candidates worthy of getting voted into their first Pro Bowl.
LB Jaylon Smith
As things stand right now, no one really knows where the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will choose to play Jaylon Smith. Personally, I think he should stay at middle linebacker. I know they just drafted Leighton Vander Esch, and he could be the MLB this season, but I liked what I saw from Smith there in 2017.
Even though Smith wasn't 100% last year and it was technically his first year in the NFL, he performed really well, showing flashes of the player he was pre-injury at Notre Dame. I would hate to see the Cowboys move him to the strong side in 2018 after seeing him progress throughout the season last year at MLB.
I personally believe if Smith plays the majority of the snaps at MLB for the Cowboys this season, he has an excellent chance of making his first Pro Bowl. I don't think he would have any problems receiving votes if he finds his name on the ballot. His story alone would get him votes, but now that he's going to be healthier this year, it's his talent that should and probably will stand out
CB Chidobe Awuzie
After overcoming his unfortunate preseason injuries, Chidobe Awuzie put together a fantastic rookie season for the Dallas Cowboys. There have been rumblings this offseason about moving Awuzie to safety because of the lack of depth at the position, but I don't think anyone on the Cowboys coaching staff has even considered the possibility.
Awuzie has a real shot of making his first Pro Bowl in 2018 if he's able to build upon how we finished last season. He had one of the lowest completion rates among all cornerbacks in the NFL last year and if he would've been able to play a full season, he may earned a Pro Bowl bid a year ago.
I'm actually expecting big things from #24 (he's no longer #33) this year, especially after the hiring of Kris Richard. He has the talent and skill set to become one the best at the position, he just has to put it all together, which I think he'll do.
P Chris Jones
It may come to a surprise to you, but Chris Jones was actually one of the better punters in the entire NFL last season in 2017. I really thought he deserved to get voted into the Pro Bowl last year, but unfortunately that isn't the way it turned out.
Jones was one of the best in the league last year at pinning the Dallas Cowboys opponents inside the 20 yard line. That is a tremendous weapon to have and he probably doesn't get the kind of recognition/gratitude he deserves from fans.
If Chris Jones can continue to be consistent like he was last season, I think he will end up making his first Pro Bowl. It's difficult to earn such an honor as a punter because they aren't exactly "known" players, but consistency can help get his name out there and earn him some important votes.
DT David Irving
If not for his four-game suspension to start the 2017 season and the fact he missed the last four games of the year with a concussion, David Irving might have joined DeMarcus Lawrence in their first Pro Bowl appearances. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and Irving was left watching from home.
2018 will start exactly like Irving's 2017 season, with a four-game suspension. This doesn't really bode well for his chances to make his first Pro Bowl, but if he rebounds like he did in 2017 after his suspension he could find his name on the ballot sheet when voting opens up.
There is no denying David Irving's talent, but unfortunately he's his own worst enemy. If he can keep his nose clean so to speak upon his return from suspension, he could end up being one of the better interior defensive tackles in the entire NFL when all is said and done.
RT La'el Collins
I'm not afraid to admit that I wasn't fully on board with the Dallas Cowboys moving La'el Collins from left guard to right tackle last season, but he probably played beyond anyone's expectations. He played so well in fact, I thought he had a good chance of making his first Pro Bowl appearance last season, albeit as an alternate.
With a year of experience under his belt at RT, I'm expecting Collins to be even better. It's not going to be an easy task to accomplish, especially as a right tackle, but I certainly think it's doable.
Collins has one thing going for him that could end up getting him the nod over other NFC tackles, youth. Quite a few of the NFC tackles who have been voted into the Pro Bowl are getting up there in age and no longer the players they once were. This gives Collins an edge, which could result in his first Pro Bowl appearance.
CB Byron Jones
I've been higher on Byron Jones over the years than a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans, but I think this is the year he finally lives up to his first-round draft status and potentially earns his first Pro Bowl bid.
I believe the Cowboys did Jones a disservice playing him at safety these last few seasons instead of his more natural position, cornerback. Luckily, Kris Richard is righting the wrong now that he's the new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator. I expect this move to pay off big.
I think Byron Jones is going to have a fantastic 2018 season and we finally see the rare athleticism and athletic ability that convinced the Cowboys to draft him in the first-round in 2015 to begin with. We will no longer see him be a little bit overpowered by bigger tight ends he's asked to cover, instead he may take on the bully role.
Will any of these 6 Dallas Cowboys players make their first Pro Bowl?
WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason
NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.
Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:
Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.
If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.
The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.
Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.
If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.
If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.
BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension
Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.
Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.
The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.
While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.
The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.
Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.
Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started
Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.
The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.
All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.
Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.
How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.
When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.
Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.
There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.
The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.
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