(At long last, the NFL season is in sight. After a long offseason, the Cowboys are set to depart for training camp on July 24. During this final month before they begin practice in Oxnard, Calif., the staff of DallasCowboys.com is going to preview the 20 biggest questions facing the Cowboys heading into 2018.)
FRISCO, Texas – In a matter of weeks, the Cowboys lost 14 Pro Bowls from the offensive side of the ball, mostly the 11 from Jason Witten.
Now this team still has some players with Pro Bowl experience, albeit mainly from the offensive line.
Only DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee have been to the Pro Bowl from the defensive players.
So for this team to exceed expectations and get back tot eh playoffs, the Cowboys will need a few players to have their best season yet.
That leads to this annual question:
15) Which Cowboys player will make his first Pro Bowl?
David Helman: Last year I was convinced another Collins was headed for the Pro Bowl, and it didn't pan out too well for Maliek. This year I'm going with the same name – but on the other side of the line. I could not have been more impressed with the way La'el Collins progressed in his first season at right tackle last year. He struggled against the likes of Von Miller in the early going, but by the end of the year he was holding his own against the likes of Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. I think he's going to continue to improve, and with an All-Pro like Zack Martin helping him out, I won't be surprised if Collins becomes the fourth of these Cowboys O-Lineman to make the Pro Bowl.
Lindsay Draper: Newcomer Allen Hurns. Why not Allen Hurns?! Let me explain. Speaking to a few former Cowboys this offseason, they have collectively spoken success over this year's offense – thanks to the return of (a probably very rested and angrily-running) Ezekiel Elliott. This corrects everything that was wrong with this offense during Zeke's absence in 2017, allowing Dak to return to his relaxed, comfortable form. This team's success out wide will be a byproduct of an offense firing off on all cylinders. Think of a less forced, more balanced offense, because all the pieces are being put back in their place. It could be a perfect storm for a heap of success for Hurns.
Nick Eatman: Always my favorite question on this list, even though I don't think I've ever gotten one right. I went with Heath last year, mainly for special teams. I don't think it's a bad pick again this year but I'll go another route. It's not going to be easy, but I expect big things from cornerback Chido Awuzie, assuming he stays there. If the Cowboys somehow moved him to safety, I think he'd have an even bigger chance. I think Chido is really to take his game to another level. He's got to stay healthy, of course, but if he plays a full season, I think he'll get enough picks to get the call.
Mickey Spagnola: This might sound strange since he will begin the season on a four-game suspension, but if David Irving can stay on the field for the remaining 12 games, and his production is anywhere close to last year as an inside pass rusher, with seven sacks in eight games played, he will take the league by storm during his restricted free agency year. Double-digit sacks from a defensive tackle will grab everyone's attention.