When the NFL released the first results from the early fan vote for the NFL Pro Bowl yesterday, they released the top vote getters at each position for the NFC and AFC. As we saw yesterday, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott were the top overall vote getters, and several other were also leading the vote at their position. Tyron Smith is leading offensive tackles, ditto Travis Frederick at center and Dan Bailey leads at kicker. Sean Lee is in the lead in the NFC for outside linebacker and Chris Jones leads the NFC for punters.
But digging a little deeper into the NFL's numbers shows that there are many more Cowboys getting recognized in the early fan vote. 14 Dallas Cowboys rank in the Top 5 in their respective position groups in the latest Pro Bowl fan voting, according to data from the NFL.
Seven of those 14 names are already listed above. Here are the others:
- Guards Zack Martin and Ronald Leary rank No. 2 and No. 3 at their positions. Yesterday's NFL press release only mentioned the leading NFC (Josh Sitton, Chicago, No. 1 overall) and AFC (Kelechi Osemele, Oakland, No. 4) players, not the top vote getters overall.
- Doug Free completes the OL quintet, coming in as the No. 2 OT overall.
- Despite missing time due to injury, safety Barry Church cracks the Top 5 lis and comes in as the No. 4 strong safety, though fellow safety Byron Jones is a Pro Bowl snub - for now.
- Jason Witten comes in as the No. 4 tight end and could be heading to his 11th Pro Bowl.
- Two special teamers also get some recognition in the fan vote: Jeff Heath is ranked as the No. 3 special teams player, Lucky Whitehead comes in as the No. 5 kick returner.
Here's the full table of all 16 Cowboys.
|COWBOYS PRO BOWL VOTING LEADERS|
|Heath, Jeff||Sp. Teams||68,518||3|
|, Lucky||Kick returner||63,810||5|
There's a good chance the entire Cowboys O-line could make the Pro Bowl.
88 players will eventually be eligible for the Pro Bowl. Those 88 spots will be split as follows:
8 spots: WR, CB
6 spots: QB, RB, OT, OG, DE, DT, OLB, S
4 Spots: TE, OC, ILB
2 Spots: FB, P, K, Return Specialist, Long Snapper, Special teamer.
With the amount of spots open for the O-line positions, and if the coaches and players vote the same way the fans do, all five Cowboys offensive linemen would make the Pro Bowl.
A record Pro Bowl haul for the Cowboys?
We don't know how many additional Cowboys players are ranked No. 6 through No. 10 at their positions (players like Dez Bryant and Byron Jones immediately come to mind), who could make the Pro Bowl as injury replacements or by getting pushed up by the player and coach votes.
There's a chance the Cowboys could equal the 2007 franchise record of 13 Pro Bowlers this year. A double-digit total looks like a strong possibility, and would only be the sixth time the Cowboy achieved that in franchise history (2007: 13, 1993: 11, 1994: 11, 1995: 10, 1967: 10).
Cowboys have the most players in the Top 5 at each position - and it's not even close
The fan vote may not be the most unbiased source of rankings imaginable, but it is part of the Pro Bowl voting process. As such, some players will be more popular than others, irrespective of their actual performance, just as some teams will naturally accrue more votes in their favor than others. Of the 95 players ranked in the Top 5 across the positions, here's the distribution by team:
|Team||No. of Players||Team||No. of Players|
To a degree, the ranking here correlates with the success - or absence of success - most teams are having this year. Notable exceptions are the 8-4 Lions and the 8-4 Giants, who have a lot less players in the Top 5 than their record would have you believe.
The Cowboys are positioned well in the fan vote, and if they continue their winning ways, the coaches and players might underline the fan sentiment. Until then you can make sure the fan vote continues to go the Cowboys' way: If you haven't yet voted for your favorite Cowboys players today, go to NFL.com and cast your vote. Multiple times. Every day.