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Three Cowboys make Pro Football Weekly’s elite 50 list

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But were they the right Cowboys?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the dead time before training camp. With little real news to report, many sites are putting out rankings and such to fill space. So when those lists come out, we like to look and see how the Dallas Cowboys did. Not that we’re filling space here.

One that came out this past week was Pro Football Weekly’s list of the top 50 elite players, regardless of position. For a team coming off a disappointing 9-7 campaign, the Cowboys did pretty well, landing three names on this ranking. Here they are, with what the staff at PFW had to say about each:

29. Ezekiel Ellliott

His second season was marred by a six-game suspension and a legal saga with the NFL that dragged out for more than a year, and Elliott wasn’t the same back he was as a rookie. But the Cowboys also were not the same team without him on the field, either; they outscored opponents by 45 points in the 10 games he played and were outscored by 23 in the six he didn’t. Elliott needs to rediscover a bit of the burst he flashed in 2016 and return to form as one of the great closers. There might not have been a better second-half back than Elliott two years ago, but his rushing average after halftime dropped more than a full yard last season.

40. Tyron Smith

Was there a more precipitous depth chart drop-off in the NFL last season than the Cowboys going from Smith to Chaz Green? In Smith’s first injury-related absence since October 2016, Green permitted six sacks... in one game. Good news for Cowboys fans: Smith, their team’s $97 million left tackle, is reportedly over the balky back and knee issues that sidelined him three games for a second consecutive season, after he started 82-of-83 games in his first five years. A healthy Smith, still ony 27, is as naturally gifted as any offensive lineman in the NFL and appears poised to regain his dominance on Dallas’ star-studded front wall.

49. DeMarcus Lawrence

After getting just one sack in a phenomenally disappointing 2016 season, Lawrence bounced back big time with a career-best 14.5 sacks in 2017, and he’ll play this year for $17.143 million on the franchise tag. He could be helped in 2018 by the addition of DE Kony Ealy, who signed a one-year, make-good deal with the Cowboys in mid-June and is expected to be fully recovered from 2017 shoulder surgery. But DL David Irving, who was second on the ‘Boys with seven sacks last season, will serve a four-game drug suspension to start the season.

Although all were in the lower half, that is still a good representation, and more names than most teams managed. All seem deserving of mention, but there were some names that did not that may actually have been more deserving.

Sean Lee is the field general for the defense and one of the most effective linebackers in the game. His absence at times last season had almost as much impact on the defense as Smith’s injury problems caused for the offense.

Zack Martin is arguably the best guard in the game. The only offensive guard to make the list at all was the Oakland Raiders’ Kelechi Osemele. As with most of these exercises, things leaned towards the “skill” positions. It can certainly be argued that Martin is more of an elite player than some of the others here, and he certainly had a better season than Smith.

And if guards don’t get much respect, centers get none. Travis Frederick is just as much in the conversation for being the best at his position as Martin is at guard.

Maybe it is being greedy, but the latter three names seem just as elite as the ones who actually made the list. Even if they would have bumped one or two of their teammates off this ranking, they all should have been considered. They probably were, given the arbitrary nature of these things, and just did not make the cut.

Of course, you can also argue that last season indicates that the Cowboys are not as elite a group as we might want to think. These kinds of posts are really just to generate interest.

So what is your take? Should one or more of the snubbed players have been included, even if they took the place of a teammate? Let us know in the comments.