When discussing the most talented rosters across the league, it is difficult to not have the Dallas Cowboys among the top of the list. A Pro Bowl quarterback in Dak Prescott, a running back such as Ezekiel Elliott, a scary talented wide receiver trio, and a strong offensive line stacks up well against other offenses in the NFL — hence the term “#Team40Burger”.
Defenders like pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and (a healthy) linebacker Leighton Vander Esch give the other side of the ball some talent as well, even though the unit will be without Byron Jones and Robert Quinn.
Still, for whatever reason, the team has struggled to put things together on the field when things matter the most. Blame it on the previous coaching staff, special teams miscues, or anything else, but the point still stands: there is too much talent on this roster that has been wasted.
The Cowboys need players at different positions to step up in a big way this upcoming season. Here are two candidates on each side of the line of scrimmage that can be those players for Mike McCarthy’s squad.
Offense: Tight end Blake Jarwin and center Tyler Biadasz
Dak Prescott is coming off a career season and the Cowboys added first-round pick CeeDee Lamb to the tandem of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but there is still some room for another weapon for Prescott to emerge. This is where tight end Blake Jarwin comes in.
The former undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State has shown flashes during his young NFL career — especially when playing against the New York Giants — but he has not been given enough opportunities to truly breakout. Now with Jason Witten off to Las Vegas, the door is wide open for Jarwin to showcase the abilities that has many excited.
If Jarwin can provide the Cowboys with another downfield option and become a reliable pass catcher, defenses will be having nightmares when game planning to stop the Dallas passing attack.
BLAKE JARWIN SCORED AGAIN!!! pic.twitter.com/6rM4WB1sRi— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) December 30, 2018
CeeDee Lamb should immediately help this offense reach another level, but there is another member of this rookie class that has the potential to do just that as well: former Wisconsin offensive lineman Tyler Biadasz.
The 2019 consensus college football All-American offensive lineman was picked up by the Cowboys in the fourth-round after a trade up. Biadasz was once seen as a potential first-round prospect, but injuries throughout his career dropped his draft stock. Still, Biadasz was a big-time talent for the Badgers and helped pave the way for Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin run game to terrorize opponents week after week for three seasons in Madison.
Folks this rep from Tyler Biadasz encapsulates a lot of what you can get if you clean up some of the sloppy reps he's got. This is terrific range and 2nd level work. pic.twitter.com/uY1O0AkaXg— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) January 8, 2020
There is obviously a hole at center for the Cowboys following Travis Frederick’s retirement, and Biadasz should be right in the thick of things to grab that starting role. While Joe Looney was solid while replacing Frederick during the 2018 season, Biadasz possesses the higher ceiling and could potentially be a strong contributor in the interior of the offensive line for both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott before season’s end.
Defense: EDGE Aldon Smith and cornerback Trevon Diggs
As good as the Cowboys offense was last season, the defense struggled mightily in 2019. The 2018 defense was very enjoyable to watch as the tandem of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith flew all over the field and many fell in love with the idea of Kris Richard running the unit. After just one more season, things are completely different around The Star.
Richard is out of town — along with both Byron Jones and Robert Quinn, as well as most of the rest of the defensive staff — and the Cowboys need players to step up on the defensive side of the ball in order to truly compete in 2020. One player that has a little bit of cautious optimism surrounding him is Aldon Smith.
Smith, the former dominant pass rusher with the 49ers, was picked up by the Cowboys this offseason after being out of football for five years. Now reinstated, Smith has the opportunity to provide some juice rushing the passer for the Cowboys opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence. It would be foolish to expect the 30-year old to return to his All-Pro play, but Smith has a real opportunity to bring more talent to a defense that needs to improve in year one under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
With the news that Aldon Smith has been conditionally reinstated to the NFL, check out my thoughts on his skillset and what the #Cowboys can expect from someone who hasn't played since 2015.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) May 20, 2020
READ: https://t.co/hoYSWRuFyI pic.twitter.com/La5j53p6bG
As mentioned above, Byron Jones is off to Miami, and the Cowboys desperately need somebody to step up at cornerback. The biggest candidate to do just that is rookie second-round pick Trevon Diggs.
The Alabama product possess impressive length and legit speed that gives him a high developmental ceiling in the NFL. First-year defensive backs are always tricky, but the opportunity is there for the taking for Diggs to step up and become a real playmaker in the Dallas secondary.
If Diggs can step up and adjust to the professional level quickly, it should make the lives of Xavier Woods, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Chidobe Awuzie a little bit easier.
BTB, what players on each side of the ball are you looking to step up and make a real impact in 2020?