Basketball free agency has us thinking, what would a Dallas Cowboys “starting five” look like? No, not in terms of actually on the hard floor — Luka Doncic and company would have their way with the basketball-playing-Cowboys — but in terms of a core of five players on the roster.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah believes the Dallas Cowboys stack up nicely in this scenario, stating that the Cowboys have “an impressive group”:
Which NFL Team has the best YOUNG starting five? (Five players 25 or younger)— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) July 8, 2019
Dallas has an impressive group
Amari Cooper 25
Ezekiel Elliott 23
Leighton Vander Esch 23
Jaylon Smith 24
Dak Prescott 25
Let’s break it down.
When discussing a young core of the Dallas Cowboys, you have to include the “New Age Triplets” of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott has proven himself to be a franchise quarterback of the most recognized franchise in sports, Cooper is a former top-five pick and his arrival helped take this offense to the next level, and Zeke is regarded as one of the most dangerous players in football.
Dak Prescott, as well all are aware, took the NFL world by storm when he led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and a number one seed in the NFC Playoffs during his rookie season. Prescott’s 2017 campaign was not as impressive, but the former Mississippi State star rebounded quite nicely after the acquisition of Amari Cooper last October.
From adding Cooper to the receivers room until the loss on the road to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs (nine games), Prescott threw for 2,368 yards and 14 touchdowns to four interceptions while averaging 7.71 yards per throw. Dallas went 7-2 in those games, losing the first and the last.
While Prescott has some flaws, he is a strong young quarterback that has flashed a lot of potential and looked really good with the addition of Coop in the offense. SB Nation’s Charles McDonald wrote why Dallas would be right to pay Prescott.
Now with Kellen Moore in charge of the offense, and Prescott reportedly improving this offseason, it is not a stretch to expect to see his best season yet in 2019.
Coop was a big spark plug for Prescott and the Cowboys offense as soon as he arrived in Dallas. He even made Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler look silly for his first touchdown as a Cowboys player:
Amari Cooper's 2nd catch vs TEN pic.twitter.com/9267mVxgxe— Jim Jeff (@CowboysGifs) November 6, 2018
Coop gave Prescott a number one target, while also forcing defenses to think twice about committing everybody to the box. Cooper’s biggest games so happened to come against divisional rivals Washington and Philadelphia, which certainly cannot hurt.
The former top-five pick out of Alabama has new life in the NFL, and if last season was any indication, it looks like Dallas is the perfect spot for him to succeed.
There is not much to write about Zeke that we don’t already know: he is one of the best offensive players in football, can change the dynamics of a game every time he touches the rock, and forces defenses to respect him as both a runner and as a receiver, when given the opportunity.
Elliott has led the league in rushing in two of his first three seasons. The one season he did not, he was suspended for six games and ended the season at the top of rushing yards per game.
With Zeke avoiding suspension this year, look for 21 to be as hungry as ever, which means bad news for opposing defenses.
The Leighton Vander Esch draft pick came with mixed reactions. Some believed there were better players on the board, while others banked on his potential and upside. The Cowboys have turned out to be the smart ones in that scenario, as the former Boise State backer wreaked havoc each and every week in his first season.
Vander Esch totaled 140 tackles, grabbed two interceptions, and defended seven passes. He played, and looked, like a veteran defender as he stepped up in big moments and filled in nicely when Sean Lee went down with injury.
With his neckroll and all, the future is very bright with LVE in the middle of the defense.
Jaylon Smith (24)
The other part of the dynamic duo at linebacker, Jaylon Smith shined last season after a couple of years recovering due to a brutal injury suffered in his final collegiate game in January of 2016. Now, Smith looks like a terrifying defender that plays at 100 miles per hour.
Smith was able to start 16 games last season, recording 121 tackles, four sacks, six QB hits, four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one long touchdown:
Smith made play after play last season for the Cowboys as he flew all over the field and made an impact in every way he could. While he is not a perfect, or finished, product, Jaylon Smith is finally developing into the kind of player we once hoped he could be, especially when making plays like this:
Exhibit B.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) May 31, 2019
One of the most memorable play from Jaylon Smith last season. Shows off his burst and speed to run down Deshaun Watson and prevent the TD. pic.twitter.com/GQtYekTuL1
It is hard to say, but the Cowboys do have a real argument of having the league’s best “starting five” of five players 25 or younger.
Other popular answers to Jeremiah’s tweet were the...
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, David Njoku
Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Desmond King
New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramcyzk, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams, Marcus Davenport
Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, John Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, Tyreek Hill, Derrick Nnadi, Kendall Fuller
What do you think, BTB?