NFL player rankings are a tricky thing. Quarterbacks tend to dominate because they play the most important position on the field. Extra attention needs to be paid to offensive linemen since they don’t have the ready-stats like the skill positions. Then there is the question of best based on the previous year or over the career of a player. There is a whole lot of subjectivity that goes into such an exercise and no two people will ever fully agree on a list.
Given that, it still can be an interesting tool to see how neutral observers view a team. Earlier this month we noted that one national media member, Jay Glazer, opined that the Cowboys roster is a Top 5 roster top to bottom. That high praise, and if you believe it, then you should expect the Cowboys coaching staff, especially Jason Garrett, to perform. The idea being they have the talent, if they can’t maximize it then maybe it’s time for someone new.
Another national media member, Pete Prisco, put out his Top 100 NFL players list. And the Cowboys do very well in it.
For the record, the Chargers have the most players in my top 100 with eight, followed by the Cowboys (seven), and the Saints and Chiefs with six each.
Again, a testament to the talent the Cowboys have assembled. Even with the seven, there are some guys left out who are very talented. Let’s take a look.
16 Ezekiel Elliott
DALLAS COWBOYS RB
He led the league in rushing last year and should again push for that title. The health of Dallas’ line should make him even better in 2019.
Zeke is the top-rated Cowboys player in this exercise. It’s an easy pick to make since he has the gaudy stats and larger-than-life personality to go with it. But is he truly the Cowboys best player? There is a case to be made for another player.
26 Demarcus Lawrence
DALLAS COWBOYS DE
The Cowboys gave him a big-money deal for a reason this offseason. He is an issue for any offense with his ability to come off the edge.
No arguments with Tank here. Another season of wrecking backfields and his status will climb.
46 Zack Martin
DALLAS COWBOYS G
Like the entire Dallas line, he wasn’t as good last season as he was the year before. But he continues to be a dominant guard in both the run and pass game.
This might be the Cowboys best player. Martin had injury issues for the first time in his career, and had to cover for not having Travis Frederick lined up next to him, but he’s still the best guard in football. He plays a position that is often overlooked in rankings (as is the case here as he is the top guard at #46), but he’s just a phenomenal football player.
58 Tyron Smith
DALLAS COWBOYS T
Injuries have dropped him down some on this list because he hasn’t been as dominant. A full season of good health will push him back up. I think he’s the best when healthy.
Smith was better last year than a lot of people give him credit for. Many articles were written about his imminent demise, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
80 Jaylon Smith
DALLAS COWBOYS MLB
His play was unreal considering what he came back from in terms of that devastating injury in his bowl game in college. Watch out this season.
This is interesting, Smith is ranked ahead of Leighton Vander Esch. Cowboys Nation was wowed by the rookie, especially given the controversy over drafting LVE at #19 in 2018 and he became the darling of the defense. But Smith was also incredible, and gets the nod in these rankings.
85 Byron Jones
DALLAS COWBOYS CB
He had his breakout season as a cover player in 2018, moving to corner full time. He’s there to stay.
A hip injury slowed at the end of the year but for three-quarters of the season he was a shutdown corner. He’s put himself in position to get paid, just like Jaylon Smith above.
99 Travis Frederick
DALLAS COWBOYS C
He’s coming back from Guillain-Barre syndrome that forced him to miss last season. So expect him higher on this list in 2020.
This just shows the talent that Fredrick is when he can miss a whole season and still make the list, especially at another overlooked position like center. Having Frederick back is going to make a big difference along the line, no offense to Joe Looney.
Those are the seven Cowboys players that made the list. Leighton Vander Esch was listed among a group of 25 or so who “just missed” the list. Not included in the list or even in the “just missed” were Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott, two guys who are about to get paid.
What do you think of these rankings? Did Prisco have the right amount of Cowboys players, and did he pick the right ones?