The Dallas Cowboys are a talented football team with a stocked roster full of quality players. If fans were asked to pick the best, or most highly-rated, the options would be plentiful as it would be hard to single out one. And that makes it equally difficult to figure out which players are overrated. Recently, over at The Athletic, they polled their subscribers and asked them which Cowboys player is the most overrated guy on the roster.
Gathering their results and putting them in a pie chart yields:
Do you agree with how the voting turned out?
30% - Stink eye view
On a character level, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player that’s a better person than Jaylon Smith. The positive mindset, the ridiculous commitment in rehabilitating, and the resounding impact he’s had on the community with his minority entrepreneurship program is just the tip of the iceberg to what Smith offers. But what you can do on the football field matters too, and needless to say - he didn’t have that great of a year in 2019. He wasn’t terrible, and yes - he did earn Pro Bowl honors, but that may have been some residual guilt from the voters after snubbing him the year prior. Smith had a great season in 2018 where he had 121 tackles, four sacks, and two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. It was enough to get the team to lock him down with a five-year, $64 million contract extension.
While he’s still a solid player, fans expected more from him, especially when his All-Pro partner-in-crime linebacker Leighton Vander Esch went down. He didn’t help matters by ill-timed celebrations that rubbed some people the wrong way. A narrative got tossed around that he was more concerned about his brand than his performance on the field. That seems a little absurd based on the type of person he is, but based on the voting - fans just aren’t all that warm and fuzzy when it comes to Smith. Hopefully, a rebound year with an improved coaching staff will help get him back in favor with the fans.
36% - Running backs don’t matter?
This one is a little puzzling simply because the moment Ezekiel Elliott stepped onto the field, he’s been arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL. A two-time rushing champ and an All-Pro in just his first year in the league, there really isn’t much about Elliott to not like. If someone wanted to make a case about his maturity or how uneasy they feel about his sudden unavailability due to some potentially bonehead off-field situation, that we can make sense of. But that’s not what this is about.
Instead, there is a line of thought that just doesn’t value running backs all that much. This is a passing league, and how teams work towards maximizing that part of the game holds so much water that it has apparently drowned out the love for Zeke. And when you factor in a contract that averages $15 million per season, a lot of fans just don’t think that’s a good use of cap resources.
22% - Good, but not elite
Dak Prescott comes in third on this list, but this one probably cuts both ways. If you ran the survey again and asked fans who is the most underrated player, you’d also find Prescott making the cut as there seems to be a line drawn in the sand between the two camps. Of course, this goes with the territory as the quarterback because Tony Romo before him was all over the board in terms of love/hate from the fans.
Prescott is getting the same treatment, and it doesn’t help his stock that this whole contract situation continues to drag out. Why does he have to want so much money? Of course, nobody was saying much as Dak quietly was one of the most underpaid quarterbacks in the league for the last four seasons. Maybe some of it’s money related, but also the quarterback comes with big expectations. And considering the Cowboys have yet to hoist the Lombardi trophy in recent years (okay, maybe a little longer than recent), he’s never going to get the love he truly deserves and will just have to wear the “overrated” label.
9% - Worth a first?
The Cowboys trio all make the top four in the voting as Amari Cooper joins Dak and Zeke as another player who just isn’t performing up to snuff according to the fan base. Cooper has been in the league for five years, and he’s had 1,000+ yards receiving in four of them, each of which earned him Pro Bowl honors. There is certainly a lot to like about Cooper, which is why the front office re-upped on him with a five-year, $100 million contract this offseason.
While Cooper has already had some big games in a Cowboys uniform, there are other times where he seems to disappear. In his 25 total regular season games with Dallas, he’s only had six 100-yard games. Furthermore, 11 of those games Cooper didn’t even eclipse the 50-yard mark, and that included a one-catch, three-yard game against the New York Jets and a goose egg against the New England Patriots this past season. He’s a good player, but just how good remains a debate among Cowboys Nation.
7% - 77 is not too hot, not too cold
Even seven-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith isn’t void of getting some overrated votes. For years, Smith has been recognized as one of the best left tackles in the game, earning All-Pro honors in four straight seasons from 2013-2016. With such a longstanding résumé of great play, Smith continues to receive a lot of praise, but is it too much these days?
Sure, he’s missed exactly three games in each of the last four seasons, and there are times where he’s just not as dominant as he’s been in the past. Thanks to a forward-thinking front office, Smith is now only the 15th highest paid tackle in the league, so that makes him a bargain. That doesn’t change the fact that the bar is set high when it comes to Smith, and fans are noticing a slight drop off. 77 degrees is my favorite temperature because it’s comfortable, which is exactly how it feels to have Smith manning Dak’s blindside.
6% - No Tank you
At this very moment, DeMarcus Lawrence owns the contract that offers the most guaranteed money in the history of the Cowboys after signing a five-year, $105 million deal last offseason. Prescott will eclipse that mark once his deal is done, but in the meantime, it’s Tank that owns that accolade. With such a big payday comes great scrutiny as some don’t think he’s worth that kind of money. And when you factor in that his sack numbers dropped to just five after two straight double-digit seasons, it adds fuel to that narrative.
Lawrence is a guy who does so much along the defensive line, and it’s hard imagining this defense without him. He’s definitely a splash-making player, but some believe the waves are settling just enough to add his name on this list.
What about you? Who do you think is worthy of some “overrated” votes?