Offseason lists are part of what sports writers do to provide content and draw in readers. No matter how much fans may disagree with any given individual's opinions, they still go over the lists to see how "their" players did and how they stack up against the rest of the league. (Disclaimer: I know that I am basically guilty of the same thing by writing an article about another writer's list. It is the offseason. And I am just like the rest of the fans.)
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has done a list of his top 100 NFL players, and the Cowboys are actually well represented - at least on the offense. Six of the current Cowboys (plus DeMarco Murray from last year) make his cut. Since the Cowboys represent a shade over 3% of the total league, accounting for 6% of the total on this list is really a compliment for the team. And given that all these players were in the Pro Bowl, it is a pretty defensible showing. Here are the Dallas players Prisco chose.
11. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant is a physical freak who loves the game. Forget his antics, he plays the game with a passion, which the Cowboys love. He is so big and strong and tough to cover in a one-on-one situation. His 16 touchdown catches led all receivers last season.
While the first reaction to this may be that this seems a little low for the extremely talented receiver, it is worth noting that he is the first wide receiver on the list. His placement may be more a function of how Prisco sees the value of the position than anything. The "antics" thing is just a meme that will likely never go completely away. It also is not very much different from how Michael Irvin was perceived, and that is pretty good company to be in.
38. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys: With help from the Dallas running game, he had his best season. Romo threw 34 touchdown passes, which was fourth-best in the league. He averaged 8.5 yards per attempt, the best of any starter in the league. It's time this guy got his due. He is much better than most think.
This one seems low. The hangover from the mishandled snap on the field goal attempt in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks is still very real. He is the seventh QB on this passer-heavy list. It seems that Romo will never get much more respect until he hoists a Lombardi trophy.
46. Tyron Smith, T, Dallas Cowboys: He is the best lineman on one of the best lines in the league. And he's doesn't turn 25 until December. That's unreal. He already has 63 starts in his career. He's always been good in pass protection, but he's improved his power game for the Cowboys' run-based offense.
Only two other tackles make the list ahead of Smith, and he is of course the youngest. Lots more expected from his future.
61. Zack Martin, G, Dallas Cowboys: He was a dominant guard as a rookie, showing up big time in the run game and having a solid season in pass protection. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, which should be the first of many.
Like Smith, Martin comes in third at his position. As a rookie. No complaints about that.
71. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys: His ability to move people in the middle of the Dallas line is a big reason why DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing. His next step is to improve in pass protection.
Fredbeard is the first center to make the list. Sounds about right.
82. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: He's coming to the end of what could be a Hall of Fame career, but he is still an effective pass-catching tight end who can also block. Those guys are rare.
82 comes in 82nd on the list. He has spent 13 years in the league, and his game is still incredibly effective. He is the Senator.
You can argue the individual placement of the players, but this is a pretty solid acknowledgement of how potent the Cowboys' offense is. Next year, maybe some of the defenders can break into this list. If they do, it will likely mean Dallas had a very good 2015 indeed.
So what is your take? Too little respect for the Cowboys, too much, or just about right?