The NFL Network recently concluded counting down the "Top 100 Players of 2017", drawing out the announcement over a traffic-optimizing but exasperatingly long eight weeks. The top Cowboy on this year's iteration of the list, and the highest-ranked player in the NFC East, is Ezekiel Elliott, who comes in at No. 7. Here are the other NFC East players on the list:
|7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB||38. Fletcher Cox, DT||8. Odell Beckham, WR||47. Trent Williams, OT|
|14. Dak Prescott, QB||90. Malcolm Jenkins, S||28. Landon Collins, S||59. Josh Norman, CB|
|18. Tyron Smith, OT||93. Brandon Graham, DE||54. Janoris Jenkins, CB||65. Jordan Reed, TE|
|58. Zack Martin, OG||- -||96.Damon Harrison, DT||70. Kirk Cousins, QB|
|60. Dez Bryant, WR||- -||- -||- -|
|79. Sean Lee, LB||- -||- -||- -|
|87. Travis Frederick, OC||- -||- -||- -|
There's obviously a lot that can be criticized about this Top 100 list, or any other list that attempts to rank the top 100 NFL players. But that's not the point today.
As I reviewed the list of players from the other NFC East teams, I began to wonder whether the players listed here really are the best players on the roster of our division rivals.
- Giants fans might wonder why Jason Pierre-Paul or their "elite" quarterback is not on this list.
- In Philly, fans would certainly make the case for eight-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters to be included, and are likely upset that none of their last four first-round picks even sniffed the list. They may be doubly upset to find that two of their former running backs made the list, but none of their current ones.
- Redskins fans would likely insist on including Ryan Kerrigan and probably Brandon Scherff as well.
Which leads me directly to the question of the day: If you could have one player from each NFC East team for the Cowboys' 2017 roster, which three players would you pick?
Here are my picks:
Philadelphia: The top-100 wasn't particularly kind to Philly, but highlights a particular dynamic on the Eagles roster: Beyond two or three standout players, there are a lot of question marks on that roster. As an Eagles fan, you'd probably see all those question marks as players with great potential, if you're not, you'll likely see nothing more than an uneven track record of performance.
Be that as it may, the Eagles defensive line remains a very impressive unit, so my pick from the Eagles roster is Fletcher Cox. He may not have had a great season in 2016, but it was good enough for another Pro Bowl nod, and defensive linemen with a Pro Bowl pedigree are have been in very short supply in Dallas for the last few years.
New York: The default pick here should probably be Odell Beckham, but he's a clown and I don't like him. So he's out.
I could also pick Eli Manning, who is a career below-average passer, but has two Super Bowl rings to his name. Obviously, he'd be the backup to Dak Prescott in camp and I'd make him play all the preseason snaps, only to announce during final roster cuts that with Kellen Moore, Zac Dysert, and Cooper Rush already on the team, there simply isn't enough room in Dallas for a QB of Eli's talents. But I'm not a troll, so I wouldn't even entertain the thought.
The pick here for me is safety Landon Collins. I'm still hoping that his five-interception Pro Bowl-season last year was a fluke, but if not, the Giants probably found themselves a keeper.
Washington: I'm obviously not constrained by any salary cap considerations, so Josh Norman would be an option. But I don't like him either, so I'm not bringing him to Dallas.
Instead, I'm picking Washington's Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff, who oddly didn't make the NFL top-100. The first reflex in an exercise like this is to look for players who can plug perceived holes on the 2017 Cowboys roster, but there's also something to be said for fortifying a strength, and that's exactly what Scherff would bring to Dallas - a ridiculously strong offensive line.
So there you have it. A defensive tackle, a safety, and a guard.
Over to you: Which players would you pick and why?