With the next practice just a few days out, the staff at DallasCowboys.com ranked the Top-10 players on the Cowboys’ roster heading into training camp.
IRVING, Texas – For the last few weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com has prepped for the season with various Top-10 lists, including a few on the best players the club will face this year at different positions.
Well, with camp now literally just a few days away, it’s time refocus back on the Cowboys roster.
Without getting cute or overthinking the process, the staff simply picked the best players on the team. This isn’t about value or status or what they’ve done in the past – it’s a list of the Top-10 players right now on the 2014 roster heading into camp.
So you won’t see Sean Lee on this list because he’s already been ruled out for the season. Anthony Spencer also didn’t make it, as his status is unclear as he rehabs from a knee injury.
But we increased the panel this week with all of the writers and some of the radio show personalities contributing to provide an extensive list. The group of Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Bryan Broaddus, Nick Eatman, Ed Cahill and Mickey Spagnola composed the list of the Top-10 players on this 2014 roster.
Honorable Mention, Dwayne Harris – Received votes from four of the six panelists, but always near the bottom half. His versatility is undeniable, especially with his ability to play receiver, cover kicks and then return kicks and punts, which he does as well as anyone in the NFL. Staying healthy toward the end of the year will be a must for Harris, who is also competing for the No. 3 receiver position.
Highest Ranking: 7th (Broaddus)
10. Henry Melton – Without playing a snap yet for the Cowboys or even participating much in the offseason because of a knee injury, Melton makes the list – mainly for his skins on the wall. Of all the players fully expected to contribute this year on defense, Melton is the only one with a Pro Bowl under his belt. His experience with this defense and coordinator Rod Marinelli is what the Cowboys are counting on to vastly improve a unit that ranked dead last in the NFL last year.
Highest Ranking: 6th (Helman)
9. Orlando Scandrick – Even though his starting job has yet to be solidified, we all know he’s going to line up in the slot on passing downs. That’s one of the more underrated positions on the team and Scandrick has been the Cowboys’ best player in the slot since he got here in 2008. He turned the corner in 2013, however, and showed he was more than just a slot corner. If the reps are equal in training camp among all three of the top cornerbacks, Scandrick should have a great shot to keep one of the starting jobs. Highest Ranking: 3rd (Broaddus)
8. Travis Frederick – While he enters just his second pro season, Frederick is quickly establishing himself as one of the leaders of the entire offense, not just the line. He was one of the NFL’s best rookies in 2013 and has arguably become one of the top-five centers in terms of run blockers. Like all young players, he’ll need to jump to the next level.
Highest Ranking: 7th (Helman, Spagnola, Eatman)
7. Dan Bailey – This selection always gets debated more than any other. Some will argue a kicker can’t be in the discussion among best players. Others would say he does his job as well as anyone on the team, if not better. While he didn’t make it on all six lists, the others recognized him as a key player on a club that seems to play close games to the end.
Highest Ranking: 6th (Kavner, Spagnola)
6. Barry Church – After leading the team in tackles with 147 last year, Church returns as one of the more productive and established defensive players. It was just four years ago that he was trying to make the roster as an undrafted rookie. Now he’s one of the top players on the Cowboys and the highest-ranked defensive player on this list. After tying for third on the team last year in tackles for loss, look for Church to play closer to the line of scrimmage this year. He’ll also be a mentor for whoever wins the starting safety job alongside of him.
Highest Ranking: 6th (Broaddus, Eatman)
5. DeMarco Murray – He was nearly a consensus pick for No. 5 on the team. Murray made quite a leap last year by not only eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, but also making the Pro Bowl as well. Still, he missed two games due to injury and proving he can stay healthy for an entire season should be his next goal, especially as he enters a contract year.
Highest Ranking: 5th (Cahill, Kavner, Eatman, Helman, Spagnola)
4. Jason Witten – The veteran tight end saw a dip in both catches and yards last year, although he did find the end zone eight times in 2013. With second-year pros Terrance Williams and Gavin Escobar expected to have greater roles in the offense, we will see how it might affect Witten’s production. But as long as Romo is throwing the passes, he will always remain a top target, especially on third downs and clutch situations.
Highest Ranking: 3rd (Eatman)
3. Tyron Smith – The Cowboys were waiting – if not holding their breath – as to when Smith might turn the corner and meet those lofty expectations that come with being the No. 9 overall pick. That certainly happened in 2013 for Smith, who made his first Pro Bowl. He cut down on his penalties and often shut down the top pass-rushers he faced. Smith also seems to be an underrated run blocker.
Highest Ranking: 2nd (Cahill, Broaddus)
2. Tony Romo – This might be different if the list came down to value only. Romo’s recovery from the back injury is one of the biggest factors of this upcoming season. When he’s healthy, he gives the Cowboys a chance to win in seemingly every game. Being healthy is obviously the key to that equation, though, and the Cowboys firmly believe he will be 100 percent when training camp begins next week. Even if he doesn’t compete in every drill, it’ll be more precautionary.
Highest Ranking: 1st (Spagnola)
1. Dez Bryant – Nearly a unanimous pick as the Cowboys’ best overall player. Taking over games from the wide receiver position is a difficult thing to do on any level, but Dez is getting awfully close to that level. His ability to fight for the ball, make defenders miss in the open field and come up with clutch grabs separates him as one of the best receivers in all of football. In the last two years, Bryant has the most touchdown catches of any wide receiver in the NFL with 25.
Highest Ranking: 1st (Cahill, Kavner, Eatman, Helman, Broaddus)