The Dallas Cowboys will have quite a bit of roster turnover from the end of the 2017 season to the start of 2018. We are seeing some of their best players moving on, which is why I thought it would be fun to identify the top 10 on both offense and defense who are remaining on the roster. Today, I want to start on the offensive side of the ball.
I understand not everybody will agree with my rankings, but that's what makes it an interesting topic to debate. As such, feel free to provide your top 10 offensive rankings in the comment section.
#10 - LG, Connor Williams
Even though Connor Williams has yet to play a single down in the NFL, I believe he is already one of best offensive players the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster. He has the versatility to play any position along the offensive line, but is expected to make an immediate impact as the new starting left guard. He is going to make the Cowboys already talented offensive line even better.
#9 - WR, Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley isn't the biggest or fastest wide receiver the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, but he is the best route-runner and most dependable in the passing game. The argument could be made that Beasley is the best slot WR in the entire NFL. He will once again be expected to be Dak Prescott's security blanket, but he really needs other WRs around him to step up their game so defenses can't bracket him in coverage like they did last season.
#8 - RT, La'el Collins
Many of us had concerns about La'el Collins making the move to right tackle last season, but he proved to be up to the task. He held his own against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL last year and managed to play all 16 games for the first time in his career despite a back injury that caused him problems towards the end of the season. With a year of experience at RT, he has a chance to be even better in 2018.
#7 - WR, Allen Hurns
The Dallas Cowboys decision to sign Allen Hurns earlier in the offseason eventually made Dez Bryant expendable. Hurns is expected to be the top wideout this year and the season could depend on his playmaking ability. He may not be as physically gifted as Bryant, but he can play all three WR positions and create separation on his own due to his route-running.
#6 - QB, Dak Prescott
Year 3 will be an important season for Dak Prescott. He was simply exceptional his rookie season, but had his ups and downs last year in 2017. His ability to be a dual threat quarterback puts opposing defenses at a disadvantage, but in order to take the next step in his development he needs to improve as a passer. If he does that, he could climb a little higher on this list.
#5 - K, Dan Bailey
Dan Bailey is technically a specialist, but anyone that's able to put points on the board and be as much of a difference maker as he has in his career for the Cowboys deserves to be in the top 10. 2017 wasn't his best season in the NFL due to a groin injury, but there's no denying how important he is to the teams success. He is after all one of the best/most accurate kickers to ever play the game.
#4 - RB, Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott is not only one of the best Dallas Cowboys players, but is arguably one of the best running backs in the entire NFL. He is a true three-down back and is dangerous anytime he has the ball in his hands. He consistently has to run against 8 or 9 man fronts and is still able to pick up chunk yards due to his vision and hard-nosed running. The offense simply isn't the same without him on the field.
#3 - C, Travis Frederick
Travis Frederick may be one of the most underappreciated players on the entire Cowboys roster. But, that doesn't negate just how important he is to the offense. He makes all of the pre-snap calls to identify blocking assignments, and helps keep the pocket clean for Prescott in the passing game. With Jason Witten gone, Frederick is the Cowboys new "Ironman" due to his ability to stay healthy and compete at a high level.
#2 - LT, Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith narrowly missed out at claiming the top spot on this list. He is without a doubt one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but his inability to stay healthy these last few years is concerning for not only the Cowboys, but his future as well. His importance to the offense can't be stated enough though. The team just isn't the same without him in the lineup, which we all witnessed last year. Hopefully, he can find a way to remain healthy for an entire season.
#1 - RG, Zack Martin
Believe it or not, but I believe Zack Martin is the best offensive player the Dallas Cowboys have on their roster and has all of the accolades to prove it. He has made the Pro Bowl every year since entering the NFL and has become the best offensive guard in the league. The Cowboys are still trying to lock him up long-term, but it will happen eventually. When it does, we can expect him to be the top paid guard in the league and deservingly so.
How would you rank the Dallas Cowboys top 10 offensive players?
Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.
After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.
Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.
Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.
Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.
During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.
Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.
Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.
If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.
Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.
Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?
When thinking about how the Cowboys' 2017 season came to an end the day before Christmas after a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, we often forget the team needed some extra help in order to get to the playoffs. The NFC was a tough conference to play in last year... but it will only be tougher in 2018.
The NFC is way stronger than the AFC right now, at least in terms of depth.
The Cowboys will be sharing a division with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that only got stronger this offseason and will try to make a run for the NFC East title once again.
As good and promising as the Cowboys' roster is, it's only fair to admit that trying to get to the postseason this year might implicate running for a wildcard spot. Many teams will be fighting for a playoff berth late in the year but fortunately for Dallas, they will be able to control their destiny against a handful of this teams.
The Cowboys will play against the entire NFC South this season. Except for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, every team in the South division was fighting for a chance at January football heading into week 17.
The Saints, Falcons and Panthers all finished the season with double-digit wins last year, and there's little reason to believe they won't come back as strong as they were in 2017.
If the Cowboys are not able to beat the Eagles in the NFC East race, we'll be hearing about a lot of different playoff scenarios that will be needed in order to play in the postseason. Certainly, having the head-to-head advantage against the NFC South teams would go a long way, even if the team will play the Saints, Falcons and Panthers before December comes around.
If the Cowboys do manage to get back to their 2016-selves, no team in the league should be an "impossible" challenge for a powerful running-game based offense and a defense that can rush the passer consistently.
Of course, the NFC South is not the only challenging division in the conference. The NFC West will feature another three football teams that will be winning tons of games. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks are all very likely to have winning records and be in the hunt once December comes around.
In a season that promises to be a "comeback" year for America's Team, the NFC promises to be a threatening conference from every direction. If the Cowboys will be able to overcome or not remains unknown and will stay that way until the season actually starts.
Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving
En la NFL, la falta de noticias en Junio generalmente significa buenas noticias. Los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys saben esto mejor que nadie y en caso de que lo hayan olvidado, David Irving se aseguró de recordarle a Cowboys Nation el porque de esta frase.
La semana pasada, se anunció que David Irving recibirá una suspensión de cuatro partidos por haber violado la política de abuso de substancias de la liga. Es la segunda suspensión que Irving recibe en años consecutivos y lógicamente, esto es preocupante para el equipo de los Dallas Cowboys.
Las últimas dos temporadas hemos visto a Irving convertirse en una pieza de suma importancia para la defensiva. El año pasado, Irving consiguió siete sacks (capturas) en sólo ocho juegos y se convirtió en un caza cabezas muy efectivo.
Demostrando ser uno de los jugadores más talentosos de su posición en la NFL, es difícil imaginar el futuro del #95 en la liga. Tras recibir un tender de segunda ronda hace unos meses (explico que es eso aquí), el futuro de Irving es muy incierto. Por eso, esta semana en Cowboys en Español, exploraremos tres escenarios posibles para el defensivo de 24 años.
#1 David Irving se va de Dallas prematuramente
Hace unos días, me dediqué a defender mi posición de que los Cowboys estarían cometiendo un error al cortar a David Irving. A pesar de que realmente despedirse de un defensivo como Irving parece muy poco probable, es un escenario que debemos discutir.
Irving ha sido un dolor de cabeza para el equipo en más de una ocasión. Dos suspensiones en años consecutivos no es una buena imagen para un jugador que busca un contrato jugoso al terminar el año.
Si Jason Garrett y la administración quieren "dar un mensaje" cortando a David Irving, ¿qué tanto serviría? Esta idea de enviar un mensaje, a la hora de pensarlo fríamente, parece una idea romántica de parte de nosotros los fans. Al final de cuentas, estamos hablando de un locker room lleno de jugadores adultos y profesionales, no de un grupo de niños.
Además, bien sabemos todos que Irving no es el único Cowboy que ha tenido problemas. ¿Será el hecho de que ha ocurrido dos años seguidos razón suficiente para dejarlo ir? Personalmente, no lo creo. Los Cowboys dejarían ir a un jugador muy bueno en una posición de necesidad.
Datone Jones, Jihad Ward y Maliek Collins podrán ser suficiente. Pero David Irving es especial en el campo. Mejor tenerlo por 12 juegos a tenerlo cero.
#2 Irving se queda para el 2018, pero no más allá
David Irving recibió un contrato de un año que le pagaba (antes de ser suspendido) 2.91 millones de dólares. Si hubiera demostrado que no era problemático y que podía mantenerse al 100% toda la temporada, probablemente hubiera recibido un gran contrato de los Cowboys o de otro equipo en la NFL.
Sin embargo, el dicho lo dice todo. "En la NFL, la disponibilidad es la mejor habilidad." Irving no se ha terminado de ganar la confianza necesaria para una gran extensión.
En este punto, Dallas puede esperar a que su tackle defensivo regrese de su suspensión, juegue doce juegos con ellos y les consiga un sack por juego por menos de tres millones de dólares. Después de eso, el equipo pude darse el lujo de dejarlo ir sin una extensión y verlo convertirse en un agente libre.
#3 Irving se queda por más de un año
En este caso, hay dos "sub-escenarios." Suponiendo que, efectivamente, Irving regresa y juega como sabemos que puede hacerlo, no será tan fácil dejarlo ir. Si llega a sorprender y demuestra que realmente es quien creemos que es y consigue diez capturas en sólo doce juegos, ¿realmente no le dará el equipo una oportunidad?
La primera opción sería asignarle la etiqueta franquicia y obligarlo a jugar un año más para un equipo que busca desesperadamente un Super Bowl.
Si se sienten cómodos dándole el salario de una etiqueta franquicia para evitar perderlo, ¿podríamos culparlos después de que les dio por ejemplo, diez capturas? Yo, personalmente, no podría hacerlo.
La otra opción, y una que podría ser la más realista, es más simple. La inmadurez y los problemas de Irving le costarán la confianza y el interés de otros equipos y es posible que en un punto, Dallas sea el único equipo que le pueda brindar seguridad de trabajo.
De esta manera, Dallas podría ofrecerle una extensión de dos, tres o más años a un precio mucho más barato que el de cualquier DT que consiga dos dígitos de sacks.
David Irving sin duda tiene un futuro incierto delante de él. Realmente sería una sorpresa verlo fuera de Dallas en el 2018, pero más allá, quien sabe lo que pueda pasar. Por ahora, esperemos que una vez que vuelva de la suspensión, esté en forma para ir detrás de los quarterbacks oponentes.
Con un poco de suerte, quizá nos olvidaremos de esto en Noviembre.
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