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Three Cowboys who will make their first Pro Bowl in 2018

With more snaps and a clearer opportunity to make their names known, these three Cowboys could be in for career seasons in 2018.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season will bring lots of surprises to the Dallas Cowboys. While the team has been going through a youth rebuild in the past few years, it feels right now, more than ever, that this franchise is as different as it has been in over a decade. Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant are no longer on this team. Even 10-year vet Orlando Scandrick is not on this roster anymore.

The Cowboys in 2018 are going to be different, vastly different. With the offseason of making necessary moves basically all but over, the Cowboys seem all set with how their training camp team will look.

Looking at the 2018 season, there is reason to be optimistic for Cowboys fans. Barring any injury, they will now have the “214” crew of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott for a full season. Dallas has re-tooled their offensive line to mirror the talent level of the 2016 unit. Their receiving group has questions and there are unproven players across the board, but they should have players that can make contributions in 2018. The defense has talent at a variety of positions and has depth to go along with it. Sean Lee and DeMarcus Lawrence will lead the way, and a young secondary will hopefully come of age.

Dallas will send a group of players to the Pro Bowl in 2018. If they stay healthy, you can pretty much book Pro Bowl seasons for players like Elliott, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Lawrence, and Lee. However, who are the players that could make their first Pro Bowl appearance in 2018? These three Cowboys could do just that.

La’el Collins

In 2017, Collins was asked to slide over to the right tackle position to replace Doug Free. While there were rough patches and bright spots for the LSU product, he had more good games than bad ones. He particularly showed improvement towards the end of the season, leading to more optimism about his performance at the position.

After drafting Connor Williams in the second round of the draft, the Cowboys’ plan is to slot him at the left guard position in between Smith and Frederick. With Williams at the position, the Cowboys should have an upgrade, which should bolster the performances of the rest of the group.

Because of the group around him and what the Cowboys will want to accomplish on the offensive side of the ball, Collins will have a chance to make his name more of a household name. One Cowboys’ goal in 2018 should be to finish as the top rushing team. At least that is what their offense is designed to do. Knowing that, Collins could be a pick to make his first Pro Bowl appearance.

Jaylon Smith

Yes, we’re going full Jaylon Smith kool-aid here. Without any brace, all signs are trending up for the Notre Dame alum. In his first year on the field for the Cowboys, Smith showed improvement each week. In the first few weeks of the season, Smith was struggling across the field. He was guessing and he did not look comfortable chasing after ball-carriers.

As the season went on, Smith seemed more and more comfortable. He was playing with more energy and his recognition skills were improving. At age 23, Smith will be entering the third year of his career.

With an instinctive, athletic linebacker like Leighton Vander Esch to pair with Smith and Sean Lee, Smith can be as productive as he was towards the end of the year in 2017. Without the brace, Smith is looking more and more like the polished prospect he was coming out of the 2016 NFL Draft. Smith has the potential to do it and 2018 could be the year he proves it.

Chris Jones

It is something that may not be talked about, but the Cowboys have two of the better special teams players in football with Dan Bailey and Jones. Approaching 29-years-old in July, it is honestly surprising that Jones has not made a Pro Bowl yet. He has consistently been one of the better punters in football, albeit falling under the radar.

He has started every game for the past five seasons posting a year of less than 45 yards per punt just once. As the Cowboys’ offense looks to wear teams down with their run-heavy offense, Jones could be part of the battle that stifles opposing teams by putting them in unfriendly offensive settings. Another year of consistent production from Jones should finally put him over the top that for an honor that he has deserved.

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