There are several players on the current Cowboys roster who are the "X-Men" - unknown quantities who could theoretically contribute to the team far beyond what the circumstances of their acquisition would suggest. It's understandable that any team would hope, or even expect their top draft picks to play early, and eventually develop into starters, but for the Cowboys, this year's ENTIRE rookie class seems to have well defined roles that the coaches hope they can fill.
The same can be said for many of the UFA's who will be coming to camp in Oxnard. Gone are the “experimental” types of players, like FA Woody Dantzler and (4th rounder 2007) Isaiah Stanback, great athletes who never found a position to play on the team. In their place are potential diamonds in the rough, players who went undrafted in much the same way that Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and Barry Church did, but about whom the Cowboy coaches and front office are practically giddy, like G Ron Leary, WR Cole Beasley, RB Lance Dunbar, DE Ben Bass, and LB Alex Albright. Add to their numbers the so-called “redshirt freshmen,” players from last year's injury riddled draft class, like Matt Johnson and Danny Coale, and former draft picks from other teams like DE Cameron Sheffield (2010 5th round, Chiefs), and LB Ernie Sims (2006 1st round, Detroit), who are now finally healthy after having their careers derailed by injuries, and the potential for success is obvious. All of these players will have the opportunity to earn significant playing time, and some could even claim starting jobs once the pads come on and the hitting starts.
If the team can hit on and develop just a couple of these young guys with cap-friendly salaries, it will go a long way toward making up for the dismal failure of some of the Cowboys' draft choices in recent years who should've become core players by now, or at the very least, provided some quality depth, but instead are no longer represented on the roster. With the anticipated return to health of already established veterans, like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, DE DeMarcus Ware, LBs Bruce Carter and Sean Lee, and S Barry Church, in addition to the infusion of talent all up and down the roster, it's easy to understand why optimism is running rampant out at Valley Ranch these days.