If you asked most NFL observers to make a list of the top Dallas Cowboys players heading into 2016, it would be a safe wager to say Tony Romo's name would be among the top few names. You could possibly pick Dez Bryant over Romo. And if you're going just on pure talent regardless of position, maybe you could throw Tyron Smith into the mix. But would you consider Romo as fifth on that list?
That's exactly what happened when CBS Sports Pete Prisco chose his Top 100 NFL players for the 2016 season. There is no true criteria for the picks, although it doesn't look like rookies can be included since part of the rankings is based on 2015. Romo came in at #85 on Prisco's list.
Even more disconcerting, he wasn't even in the top ten quarterbacks listed. He was beaten out by Aaron Rodgers (1st), Tom Brady (5th), Ben Roehtlisberger (7th), Cam Newton (12th), Carson Palmer (38th), Drew Brees (43rd), Andrew Luck (44th), Russell Wilson (45th), Philip Rivers (61st), and Eli Manning (83rd). So if you're counting, that puts Romo at #11 among NFL QBs. The injuries and the poor year the Cowboys had last year have certainly dented his reputation. Heck, it was only two years ago when he lead the NFL in a vast array of passing statistics.
What's your bet that Romo returns to near the top of the QB rankings after 2016?
As for the rest of the Cowboys, as you might have guessed, they all come from the offensive side of the ball.
10. Tyron Smith T / Dallas Cowboys Smith is outstanding in pass protection, but he also does a great job in the run game. He is strong and can move people off the line. That's impressive for such an athletic tackle.
23. Dez Bryant WR / Dallas Cowboys Bryant played in only nine games and was clearly not the same player he was in 2014. A foot injury impacted his entire season and forced him to miss seven games. Bryant had just 31 catches after having 88 the year before. Not having Tony Romo hurt too, but he is said to be healthy again and should be back putting up big numbers.
55. Zack Martin G / Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys feature a dominant line, and Martin followed up on his excellent rookie season in 2014 with another good year for the Cowboys last season. He is on the verge of claiming the spot as the league's best guard.
73. Travis Frederick C / Dallas Cowboys The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league, and they also have the best center. He is a force in the run game, which will be key this year with the addition of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
85. Tony Romo QB / Dallas Cowboys He played in only four games because he broke his collarbone twice in the same season. Romo wasn't putting up big numbers when he was on the field, but he is still capable of being a 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown passer.
On defense, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick are worthy names for consideration. Since Scandrick's 2015 was wiped out, he'll have to re-establish his reputation again. But Lee probably should be on the list. I guess his injury reputation hinders him.
As for next season, I'll say Ezekiel Elliott is a lock.