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5 second-year players developing into difference-makers for Cowboys

The emergence of young players has the Cowboys future looking bright.

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL trade deadline has come and gone. The Dallas Cowboys decided to stand pat with their current roster by not partaking in the last-minute activities like others hoping to improve their team. For whatever reason, whether it be the asking price was too high or nothing ever really materialized, Dallas' Super Bowl journey will continue with the players they have on hand.

While acquiring a new toy would've been exciting, especially one that could've possibly improve the team, the Dallas Cowboys believe sticking with the status quo is good enough to make a strong playoff push and hopefully a Super Bowl appearance. And while it's a little disappointing a trade to help the team never really materialized, it's easy to forget this is still a really talented football team as it is currently constructed.

As a reminder of sorts, today were going to take a look at a handful of second-year players who are not only starting to come into their own, but are also developing into difference-makers for the Dallas Cowboys. This youth movement is how Dallas prefers to build the roster, and fortunately for them it looks as if it's starting to pay off.

Tyler Smith

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

As a rookie Tyler Smith pretty much saved the Dallas Cowboys season last year as an injury fill-in for Tyron Smith, but in Year 2 he's playing at an even higher level as the starting left guard so far this season. Just last week against the Los Angeles Rams he went toe-to-toe with one of the best defensive tackles in the league in Aaron Donald and more than held his own. It's something has been doing all season and should continue to do. He seems to have found his home at LG and is currently playing like one of the league's best.

DaRon Bland

NFL: OCT 29 Rams at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Whether it's been playing inside in the slot or on the outside, DaRon Bland has emerged as easily the Cowboys second-best cornerback since joining the team as a fifth-round pick last year. And he’s starting to get into the conversation with Trevon Diggs for top dog. No. 26 is now getting the recognition he deserves. Since entering the NFL he has been among the league's best at accumulating interceptions and it looks as if everyone is starting to take notice. Much like Tyler Smith, his versatility has been invaluable already in a short time with the Cowboys.

KaVontae Turpin

Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys might just have the most dangerous return man in the NFL in KaVontae Turpin. Anytime he touches the ball he has the ability to take it to the house. He had two huge returns last week against the Los Angeles Rams, one of which was for a touchdown that ended up being called back because of a holding penalty. While he has been mainly used in the return game, the few flashes we have seen of him on offense have shown the same kind of game-breaking ability. Getting him more involved offensively might not be a bad idea.

Markquese Bell

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Safety turned linebacker Markquese Bell has been one of the biggest surprises for the Dallas Cowboys through the first eight weeks of the 2023 NFL season. The position switch was out of necessity, but it couldn't have worked out better for all parties concerned if they had planned it themselves. While No. 14 is undersized to play LB by NFL standards, he more than makes up for it with his uncanny instincts to quickly diagnose and react in both the running and passing game. If not for him, Dallas' defense would've been in serious trouble this year.

Jake Ferguson

NFL: OCT 29 Rams at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dalton Schultz who? The Dallas Cowboys new TE1 may have gotten off to a shaky start at the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, but has really settled in and solidified the position over the last few weeks. Whether it's as a blocker in the running game or receiver in the passing game, Jake Ferguson has been performing like a Top 10 player at the TE position and has really started to develop a solid rapport with QB Dak Prescott. As these two continue to build confidence in one another, Dallas' offense should continue to get better because of it.

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