After the amazing 2016 season, a couple of members from the Dallas Cowboys received an award in the 2017 NFL Honors. Jason Garrett was named Coach of the Year and Dak Prescott received the Offensive Rookie of the Year as a fourth rounder, beating the 2016 fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott.
It had been a great season for America’s Team despite its playoff run ending prematurely.
Last season, many would’ve thought DeMarcus Lawrence could’ve been a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award but he wasn’t included among the three finalists.
But surely, the team might have an opportunity to make things right in 2018. With the Cowboys trying to get back into the playoffs in this season, there’s many talented players who could emerge as candidates for an award at the end of the year.
Here’s my list of potential Cowboys’ candidates who could earn a trophy in the next NFL Honors! Let me know your thoughts on the comments section below or tweet them @PepoR99 and let’s talk football!
Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Michael Gallup
In 2016, the Cowboys dominated this category with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the Cowboys’ offense. Two seasons later, Dallas will have Michael Gallup trying to become the team’s WR1 with his ability to play anywhere on the field.
The Cowboys third-round draft pick will likely be a starter very soon, perhaps even since week 1. With the wide receiver starting jobs wide open in Dallas, it’s not far-fetched to see Gallup as a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year.
When it comes to receivers, this year’s rookie class will be loaded all around the league but Gallup’s biggest challenge might end up being playing in an offense with a run-first identity.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: LB Leighton Vander Esch
The Cowboys’ first round pick will play alongside Sean Lee, one of the NFL’s best linebackers, and Jaylon Smith, who promises to have his best year since joining the Cowboys. Vander Esch has a lot to prove being the rookie who reportedly was off of many draft boards around the league.
The Cowboys didn’t pick another rookie defender until the fourth round of the Draft in Dorance Armstrong, so the in-house competition for Defensive Rookie of the Year won’t be very strong for the Boise State product.
If Vander Esch manages to become a starter on the nickel defense over Jaylon Smith, he’ll see a lot of snaps and will be on his way to become an award candidate.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott has done enough to be considered one of the NFL’s top three running backs. You could even argue he’s the best in the league. Being the rushing-yards leader in 2016 and falling just 17 yards short of the 1,000 yards-mark despite missing six games, Elliott will make people remember who he is next season.
Is this the year that he runs for 2,000 yards? If he does, he will not only an Offensive Player of the Year candidate, but an MVP candidate.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the NFL Honors, is that it’s almost impossible to be named the MVP if you play any position other than quarterback.
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Sean Lee
The obvious candidate here would likely be DeMarcus Lawrence, who just last year had an impressive breakout season with 14.5 sacks. Trying to prove his worth for a long-term extension, it only makes sense for Lawrence to keep his 2017 level of play and be a clear candidate for this award.
But we all know how talented and dedicated Sean Lee is. He’s only missing one thing to be considered the NFL’s best linebacker: full seasons.
Year after year, Sean Lee suffers an injury and is forced to leave the field. If he manages to remain healthy for one and only one year, he’ll play like an All-Pro and be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
Comeback Player of the Year: LB Jaylon Smith
It seems like the Cowboys don’t have any strong candidates for this award. That’s mainly because the criteria that the Associated Press uses on this award isn’t that clear.
“This is a good spot for a reminder that the Comeback Player of the Year criteria, is, well, not exactly precise. It’s presented each season to a player who thrives while overcoming adversity […]” – Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke, 2016
If the award doesn’t “require” that to win this award a player must have had a successful season before, then Jaylon Smith has gone through a lot of adversity. We know that.
If Smith is able to put on a show in 2018 and prove that he was worth the second round pick used on him in 2016, then he could be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year after coming back from an injury that some feared would end his football career.
Most Valuable Player: QB Dak Prescott
Yes, it sounds crazy. Maybe Ezekiel Elliott seems like a more realistic candidate for this award, but Dak Prescott is a quarterback. And the MVP is a quarterback award, if we’re being honest. His third year in the NFL will be a very important one, especially since this might be the season that earns him a big-time contract.
Every year, surprise contenders for the MVP title emerge. Playing in the most popular franchise in sports, all Dak Prescott needs to do is take control of his offense and have a great year leading his team into the playoffs. He obviously needs to improve his game in a lot of ways, but he’s shown he’s able to.
Don’t be surprised if Dak’s numbers go up during his third year in the NFL.
If he finds a way to shine in a run-first offense with an overhauled set of pass-catchers, Prescott might find himself in the MVP conversation. Hopefully, he does.