OXNARD, Calif. – With another training camp in the books, the staff of DallasCowboys.com did its annual rankings of the best players throughout the team's month-long stay in Oxnard.
Here's the top-10 rankings for the Cowboys' 2015 training camp, as voted on by David Helman, Rob Phillips, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus.
Honorable Mention: Davon Coleman – The second-year defensive tackle had another strong camp, just like he did a year ago when he made the team and started the first game. While there were questions surrounding his ability to duplicate his performance, Coleman did that and more. He hasn't exactly solidified his spot on the team, but he's making it very hard for the Cowboys to cut him.
10. Tyler Patmon – Known more for trading punches with Dez Bryant earlier in camp, and then going toe-to-toe with several Rams players in that nasty brawl, Patmon also continued to impress the coaches with his play on the field. Taking advantage of several other injuries at the position, Patmon got plenty of reps and now appears to be the Cowboys' slot corner with Orlando Scandrick out for the year.
9. Jack Crawford – We expected a Crawford to excel in camp, and while Tyrone was very good in his own right, Jack was just as impressive. He's not going to start, but his versatility to play both tackle and end makes him valuable to the line. When the season starts and Greg Hardy is on suspension, Crawford could be the first backup at both defensive end and the 3-technique defensive tackle.
8. Tony Romo – Again, this isn't a ranking of top players on the team, but mainly their performances in camp. He certainly practiced more this year than the last two years, but was still limited at times. And, of course, not having Dez Bryant for a lot of practices doesn't help. But Romo was as solid as ever, showing he still has plenty of zip on the ball and his pocket presence looked on-point as ever.
7. Zack Martin – While he might have missed a few practices near the end of camp with a neck injury, Martin was still rock-solid in the times he was on the field. This guy is just a great football player and has been since he arrived to the team last spring. Martin doesn't lose many, if any, battles 1-on-1 and makes few mental mistakes, making him much more advanced than your average second-year pro. And his neck injury must not have been too bad, considering Martin was one of three offensive linemen picked by Garrett to catch a punt in the final practice that helped the team go home a day early from camp. Martin never got the attempt as Randy Gregory made the catch on the first attempt, but at least he was available, signaling a return to the field is near.
6. Tyron Smith – Similar to Martin, Smith didn't practice every day because of a biceps injury, but when he's out there, he shows you why he's considered one of the top offensive tackles in the game. Smith saw a healthy amount of reps against the likes of Greg Hardy, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, and had few problems in both team and individual drills. Maybe he won't have the same amount of preseason reps, but Smith seems ready to go for the regular season.
5. Jason Witten – Some things never change. Witten's first training camp with the team was the final one for Darren Woodson. Yet through the years, this future Hall of Famer approaches camp with the same intensity every time. Even in the final practice here in Oxnard, he makes a big catch down the field and hits the ground with a thud, yet pops right back up and keeps rolling. Witten beat Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox consistently in practice and also did his share of chirping, letting the entire defense know when the offense succeeded. From his leadership to his performance, Witten was as good as ever.
4. Travis Frederick – The only offensive lineman to stay healthy throughout camp, Frederick looks every bit the part of one of the NFL's elite centers. His Second Team All-Pro status last year merits that claim, but he didn't do anything here in his third camp to show otherwise. Frederick just has impeccable technique and balance that not only keeps the offense flowing throughout the drills and reps, but also keeps his quarterback clean in the pocket. [embeddedad0]
3. Randy Gregory – The Cowboys seemed to have found themselves quite a player with this second-round pick. And they knew all along his talent far exceeded the 60th overall selection. But if he was projected to be a top-10 player, Gregory showed that and then some here in camp and the preseason. He didn't beat Tyron Smith all the time, but he won a few. And for a rookie entering this league, that's a great start. He took his practice performance to the games where he recorded a sack in each of his first two preseason games. The Cowboys are used to having success with the No. 94 jersey, and this year was no exception.
2. DeMarcus Lawrence – Last year, his camp was cut short after a foot injury, but this year, he was arguably the most consistent defensive player from start to finish. His power has increased dramatically, and that has helped him win most of his 1-on-1 battles. He's got great speed off the edge, but his bull-rush has been a great addition to his game. Most players get better physically from the first year to the second, but the strides Lawrence has made are second to none.
1. Cole Beasley – He just couldn't be covered. Didn't matter if it was the first-team defense before slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick got hurt, or when the Rams came in for a couple of days, Beasley just made plays. He stayed healthy for most of camp, just missing one practice with a sore Achilles. But this mismatch nightmare just torched the defense and coverage on a consistent basis. Not only did he excel at receiver, proving that he could be a huge part of the offense this year, he might be the Cowboys' primary punt returner as well. It's certainly rare, but on this team, this year, the smallest guy had the biggest contribution.