NFL.com took on the task of raking the Top 10 rosters in the NFL based on talent. This is a no-win proposition since there are so many ways to break down talent on rosters. In this case, though, former scout Bucky Brooks states that championship teams need eight to ten blue-chip players on their roster, so that's the stake in the ground he uses to anchor his rankings. He also notes that rookies are not included since you really don't know how well they'll play in the NFL or how teams will use them.
Before I looked at the list of Cowboys, I tried to make my own mental list of who Dallas' blue-chip players would be and it was acutally pretty easy. What was also telling about the list is that most of the players were on the offensive side of the ball. As noted by OCC yesterday, the Cowboys are built to win on offense.
10) Dallas Cowboys
Blue chips: Tony Romo, QB; Dez Bryant, WR; Jason Witten, TE; Travis Frederick, C; Zack Martin, OG; Tyron Smith, OT; Sean Lee, LB; Orlando Scandrick, CB; Dan Bailey, K.
Risers: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE; La'el Collins, OG.
Despite the Cowboys' 4-12 record in 2015, they should rebound nicely with the top players back on the field. Romo and Bryant fuel a dangerous aerial attack that perfectly complements a rugged running game -- one that could truly explode with dynamic rookie Ezekiel Elliott as the RB1. The Cowboys' star-studded offensive line is a force to be reckoned with: Smith, Martin and Frederick move bodies off the line of scrimmage on run plays and form an impenetrable wall on passes. On defense, Scandrick's return from injury -- he missed the entire 2015 campaign after tearing up his knee in training camp -- gives the unit an ultra-athletic CB1 to shadow the elite receivers in the NFC East. If he and Lee can stay healthy, the Cowboys' defense might exceed expectations.
Couple of comments. It's nice to see that Brooks recognizes how much of a weapon that uber-accurate Dan Bailey is, let's hear it for the kickers. On the risers list, I believe he missed an important Cowboys player, safety Byron Jones. Almost everybody who watched Jones last year saw star potential written all over him. With Dallas moving him full-time to safety this year, he'll be able to concentrate on one position and should rapidly climb the rankings of safeties in the NFL.
Also missing from the risers category is Tyrone Crawford. Just a couple of years ago Crawford was on everybody's radar as the next breakout player for the Cowboys. So far, that hasn't happened. A shoulder injury robbed him of his power last year, so maybe this year he finally fulfills his promise.
And while the Cowboys have been widely-projected as the team to beat in the NFC East, Brooks actually has the Giants roster rated one spot ahead of Dallas in 9th. Of course the Giants free-agent frenzy helped them grab three of the players on their list of blue-chips, we'll have to wait and see how they mesh together with the leftover veterans.