The offseason practices are in the rearview mirror as the Cowboys are heading towards training camp, which begins on July 24 in Oxnard, Calif.
That's usually the place where many of the questions regarding this team start to get answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2017 season.
Today, we continue the series with a discussion on a player that could end up making his first Pro Bowl when the season is complete.
16) Which Cowboys Player Will Earn His First Pro Bowl in 2017?
Phillips:How crazy would it be to see four Cowboys offensive linemen in the Pro Bowl? Four? Well, La'el Collins isn't officially the starting right tackle yet, but if the offseason program was any indication, that's his new position. The Cowboys played him at guard his first two years, but the majority of his college work was outside. Watch highlights of him sprinting 30 yards down the field blocking for Darren McFadden as a rookie and it's clear he's agile enough to handle the edge. It doesn't hurt that he's lining up next to arguably the league's best guard, Zack Martin. The Cowboys have three linemen who have become perennial Pro Bowlers – Martin, Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick – so the system is in place for Collins to grow into a dominant player, whether it's at guard or tackle.
David Helman:I'm going to cheat a little bit and say it'll be a guy named Jones – either Chris or Byron. I honestly think Chris Jones might be the most underappreciated player on this roster, and I'm not just saying that because he made that spectacular tackle last season. After a so-so start to his career, he has absolutely mastered the art of directional punting. He doesn't have the biggest leg or the best hang time in the NFL, but I can honestly only remember a couple of times in the past few seasons when someone even managed a return on him. He has basically eliminated the opposing return game for much of the last three years. As for Byron, I just feel like he's up to the challenge of stepping up as one of the new veterans in the secondary. We know he's got the athleticism to make plays on the ball. By adding two or three new, athletic corners to this secondary, I think it might put a little less strain on him – and that should hopefully free him up to make some plays. Safeties make the Pro Bowl by getting interceptions. If Byron can take his solid coverage and tackling skills and add, say, four interceptions to that, I think it'd be enough to get him to the Pro Bowl.
Broaddus: This is a deep shot but give me Maliek Collins. I like what I saw in his 14 starts last season and what he's done working against Zack Martin in these practices. He's playing with quickness and power and If he can somehow deliver 7 or 8 sacks - - I believe he has a chance. There's a ton of ability and promise in that player.
Eatman: I really like all of the other answers, especially either Collins. So I think I'm going way out there with this one. Let's go with a guy who hasn't even won a starting job yet. But my pick is Jeff Heath – one way or another. Two things could happen here. First, he wins the starting job and plays really well for a team that wins a lot of games. Say what you want about Heath, but he does get some turnovers. If he ends up with 7-8 takeaways, that might vault him to a level of a fan favorite. Secondly, he could start but also keep his role on special teams. He makes a few plays on defense, but is still considered a core special teams player, and gets voted in for his work there. The plays on defense will get his name mentioned more but he'll be a special teams selection who would end up playing in the game on defense. That is, if the Cowboys players are even eligible to play.