We have reached that time of the year when the entire NFL world goes OCD on us and succumbs to excessive list making. The NFL Network is running a top-100 list, Ron Jaworski is progressing along his top 30 QB list, Forbes just did a list with the top 100 highest paid athletes in the world (scandalously, not a single Cowboy made the list). Everywhere you look, there are lists, often accompanied by horrific, click-generating slideshows.
The latest list reaches us from Peter Schrager of Foxsposts.com in the form of a top-100 NFL players list. He has four Cowboys on the list, and has one cracking the top ten. After the break, we look at who he's got, because it's Saturday, and we're not exactly swamped with breaking Cowboys news.
Predictably, the list of Cowboys players starts off with DeMarcus Ware
No. 8: DeMarcus Ware - Offensive coordinators lose sleep the night before playing the Cowboys because of Ware. He needs to be identified and accounted for before every snap and does things on the field few men his size can even dream of. On the defensive line in a 4-3, lining up at outside linebacker in a 3-4, Ware’s the front-seven player you fear the most in today’s NFL. You better account for him in your game planning, or he’ll beat you. He quietly had 19.5 sacks last season. Quietly. More to come in 2012.
Schrager also finds some nice words for the Senator
No. 58: Jason Witten - Sure, Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are the next wave of NFL tight ends. And yeah, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez probably have done more for fantasy football leagues over the past few years. But Jason Witten has been arguably the most consistent tight end over the past decade. Last season was another great year for the Cowboys star, as he caught 79 balls for 942 yards and scored five touchdowns. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin went down but the ‘Boys passing attack didn’t suffer. Laurent Robinson stepped up; Witten did what he does.
Tony Romo comes in at No. 67. Normally, I'd be all outraged at this, and complain loudly about some of the QBs ranked ahead of Romo. But for that I'd have to click through the entire slideshow again, and I just can't be bothered.
No. 67: Tony Romo - Tony, Tony, Tony. Two years removed from the Cowboys’ last playoff berth, guess what — all eyes are on Tony Romo … again. He’s married with a kid now, and I’m not done with the guy just yet. Romo, though his detractors would say otherwise, had a strong 2011 campaign. He threw for more than 4,184 yards, had 31 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions, and his 102.5 passer rating was a career high. Say what you want about the December wins and losses, Romo’s a top-10 quarterback.
The last Cowboys player on the list is Tyron Smith, which is a little surprise, for a number of reasons. First of all, he doesn't have the name recognition yet that many other players on the list obviously have - and needed to make the list in the first place. Secondly, as happy as we as Cowboys fans are about Smith on our team, we often and conveniently overlook that Smith did give up 9.5 sacks if you believe Stats Inc. And finally, where's Sean Lee?
No. 68: Tyron Smith - No one expected 20-year-old Tyron Smith to be the top lineman on the Cowboys’ O-line as a rookie, but that’s just what he was last year. The sky’s the limit for the big fella out of USC and in 2012 he’ll make the inevitable move to left tackle. Pundits didn’t think Smith was a "sexy" enough pick for Jerry Jones to take with the ninth selection in 2011, but he exceeded expectations. With the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Brian Orakpo, Jason Babin, Justin Tuck and Trent Cole in the NFC East, a stud left tackle is absolutely necessary. It looks like the Cowboys have one.