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?
Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke
It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?
This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.
if you can only pay one it should be
The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.
Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?
On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.
To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.
Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.
Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.
As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.
Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.
In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.
Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.
Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.
Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.
Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.
Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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