After the dust settled on the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys received mixed reactions from fans and critics alike.
Many detractors pointed to the obvious right away — the team's largest flaws didn't seem to be addressed. Rather than select defensive play makers in the early rounds who could provide an immediate impact, the team's first two picks were spent on a running back and a luxury pick of Jaylon Smith, who will miss all of 2016 due to a severe knee injury.
Then came the rest of the offseason from hell.
Suspensions and injuries plagued the team, crippling what was already presumed to be an underwhelming defensive unit. The backup quarterback position wasn't directly addressed with a veteran free agent until Kellen Moore went down with an injury, and many didn't seem to view Dak Prescott as a franchise guy. His fourth round draft selection indicated that.
Many began to view the Dallas offseason as one of the team's worst in recent memory. When Tony Romo went down with another significant injury, all hope seemed to be lost.
Fast forward to week six of the NFL season and things couldn't be better.
The Cowboys are 4-1, and all of a sudden a serious early contender in the NFC. The team is much more than just an early surprise.
It may be premature, but the 2016 draft class deserves much of the credit. Just how great is this draft group, and where can they potentially rank in the franchise's history? As of now, this class has the potential to be near the top when all is said and done.
Whenever a team lands a potential franchise quarterback, their draft class immediately gains significant credibility. Just look at both the 1964 and 1989 drafts for the Cowboys, both of which are easily the best in franchise history. Roger Staubach was selected in the 10th round and Troy Aikman was selected with the first overall pick in their respective years.
It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as the franchise quarterback is taken at some point.
In a QB driven league, landing a franchise guy is something that needs to be celebrated and heralded. Landing him in the fourth round is an even greater franchise achievement. Through five games, Dak Prescott appears to be an absolute steal, and the real deal.
Ezekiel Elliott is playing like the slam dunk that NFL scouts thought he would be. Offensive Rookie of The Year looks even more realistic than it did in the offseason as Zeke leads the league in rushing through five weeks. The Cowboys couldn't miss on a guy like Elliott, and even his high pick of fourth overall doesn't have many second guessing anymore.
But it doesn't just start and end with the two young offensive stars. Alone, landing both Prescott and Elliott make this draft class elite, but it has potential to go much further than that. The second round selection of Jaylon Smith could pan out down the stretch, and turn out to be a great defensive steal. He was graded by some as literally the
number one overall talent in the draft.
The thought of Dallas landing three first round talents in a single draft (Elliott, Prescott, Smith) gives me chills. But Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown cannot be overlooked either.
Brown has filled in formidably right away for an injured Orlando Scandrick, which is incredible considering his 6th round selection. Collins appears to be contributing on a very unknown defensive line as well. Add a healthy Charles Tapper into the mix down the stretch, and you could be looking at one of the most special draft classes to come through Dallas in a very long time.
Is it too early to call the 2016 Dallas Cowboys draft class one of the franchise's best? Where will this class of players be in a few years? Let us know by commenting below.