Pete Prisco from NFL.com recently put together his Top 100 players list of 2020. It’s a pretty good list, however, that’s real easy to say when seven Cowboys players are included. On the surface, it passes the eye test. Patrick Mahomes is right where he should be at no. 1 with Aaron Donald right next to him. Great players that don’t quite get the respect they deserve, like Russell Wilson and Michael Thomas are right behind them with the electric Christian “don’t tell me running backs don’t matter” McCaffrey rounding out the top five.
There were some interesting things about his list, so here are six things that stood out the most as it pertains to the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have as many players on the list as the entire NFC East combined
The Cowboys have seven players matching what the entire NFC East have combined. Granted, it’s probably not fair to group the Philadelphia Eagles with the rest of the NFC East teams as they make up six of those seven players, but hey - it’s our website, we can frame it how we want. With absolutely no help from the Washington Redskins, the list comprises of Saquon Barkley (35) and six other Eagles players. The Eagles who made the list include Lane Johnson (30), Fletcher Cox (54), Brandon Brooks (55), Zach Ertz (68), Jason Kelce (76), and newly acquired free agent Darius Slay (96).
Of course, we wouldn’t be able to say this if Carson Wentz was good enough to make the list. Oh well, those are the breaks.
How about some well-deserved love for LC
For the last several years now, La’el Collins has been the Ringo Starr of the Cowboys offensive line. Yes, he’s important, but he’s not nearly as popular as the big three of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick. But the times, they are a changing (yes, I know that’s Bob Dylan and not the Beatles).
Prisco gives Cowboys fans a pleasant surprise by including Collins (77) on this list. In fact, he’s even three spots higher than his fellow teammate tackle, Smith (80). Part of this is related to Smith’s inability to play at full strength in recent years, but part of it is also because LC is just a really good player. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that just like the other “big three” on the offensive line, he’s essentially a former first-rounder too as he was an undrafted gift that fell right into the Cowboys laps in 2015.
Frederick may be gone, but we should still be able to say that the Cowboys have three of the top offensive linemen in the game.
T.J. Watt is ranked higher than any Cowboys player
There’s no point in dwelling on the past by bringing up that the Cowboys passed up on edge rusher T.J. Watt so they could take Taco Charlton and the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, but that never seems to stop us from antagonizing ourselves anyway. Well, here’s another chance because Watt just so happens to rank 16th on Prisco’s list, one spot ahead of Ezekiel Elliott who is the Cowboys top ranked player.
There is no reason for us to be greedy here, but just think of how much stronger this team would be with DeMarcus Lawrence and Watt on the ends terrorizing quarterbacks.
All signs point to Dak getting that money
If you needed another reason to justify Dak Prescott being worthy of a big contract, this list provides one. Ten quarterbacks made the list, and Dak is one of them. All the QB’s on the list ranked higher than Dak have either won the Super Bowl, the league MVP, or in some cases – both, so he’s in some good company. You may be tempted to counter with “well, those guys have accomplished something” which is absolutely correct, but you might want to make a mental note of all the other high-priced quarterbacks who ranked behind Dak or are not even on this list at all.
All this talk about who’s ranked where is just semantics, because in the grand scheme of things – franchise quarterbacks who are integral parts of their team’s success get paid. That’s just the rules.
Byron Jones isn’t on this list
In total, eight cornerbacks made this list: Stephon Gilmore (6), Jalen Ramsey (26), Tre’Davious White (52), Richard Sherman (57), Marlon Humphrey (59), Patrick Peterson (75), Casey Hayward (83), and Darius Slay (96). As you may have noticed, Byron Jones isn’t one of them.
There’s a large debate among Cowboys Nation about just how good Jones really is. There is no denying he’s an athletic player that smothers his man, and it’s well documented that he doesn’t have the history of interceptions, so the bemusement of Jones carries on. The Cowboys front office didn’t view him as an elite player worthy of the big payday he got in free agency, and based on this list – Prisco agrees.
But Amari is
The Cowboys didn’t pay Jones, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t retain a former first-round pick from the 2015 draft. It just so happens it was an Oakland Raiders draft pick. After a big trade with the silver and black, the Cowboys found their star receiver in Amari Cooper (81). He’s shown that he’s a big playmaker for this offense, and would probably be higher if he didn’t disappear at certain moments in the season.
With the selection of Cooper, the Cowboys are just one of three teams that have their set of triplets make the list. New Orleans (Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara), and Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones).