ESPN, in conjunction with Pro Football Focus, took on the task of ranking every NFL roster. This is the second year they have done this in the offseason. This is really a subjective task, the only true ranking of a roster, the one that really matters, is the Won/Loss record. But, since every team makes significant changes, last season's record can't be used as the accurate marker that it would have been for the 2014 roster.
Still, it is interesting to match these things up. For instance, the Cowboys finished last year at 12-4, that was tied with four other teams for the best record in the league. Those teams were Seattle, New England, Green Bay and Denver. So how do those teams rank in ESPN's roster evaluations for this offseason? Seattle is number one, Green Bay is number two, New England is number four and Denver is number five. Well that matches up nicely with last year's finishing record.
So where is Dallas, number three, number six? Nope, the Cowboys are all the way down at number eleven.
11. Dallas Cowboys 2014 Ranking: 18
Top five players: Dez Bryant, Greg Hardy, Orlando Scandrick, Tyron Smith, Tony Romo
Starters who should be upgraded: Nick Hayden, Morris Claiborne, Anthony Hitchens, J.J. Wilcox, Terrance Williams, Tyler Clutts, Joseph Randle
Analysis: The Cowboys have one of the league's best offenses, but some big question marks on defense. The offensive line might be even better this season after last year's dominant campaign, which is why Dallas was fine moving on from DeMarco Murray. Randle averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season and 4.2 yards per carry after contact on 51 carries, and the team is banking on him being very productive behind that blocking. The defense overachieved a year ago, and the D-line looks very thin entering 2015. The secondary is an issue, while the linebacker corps will get a huge boost if Sean Lee can return healthy.
The Cowboys defense is still the issue. That is not without merit, but Dallas has done a lot to improve it. Why the defensive line looks very thin is curious. Dallas now has Greg Hardy, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jeremy Mincey, Randy Gregory and a bevy of other guys who could contribute. Sean Lee is returning, along with Rolando McClain. On paper, the Cowboys D looks vastly improved.
Somehow, the Eagles end up as the sixth-ranked roster. Just to give you an idea of how subjective this is, the Eagles were ranked as the fifth-best roster last year, while the Cowboys were ranked 18th. We all know how that turned out. In this year's rankings, the Giants are 20th and Washington is 27th.