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Mailbag: Most Important Young Impact Players? Whitehead In The Slot?

TOM GUTIERREZ
ALBUQUERQUE, NM

Which three young players (entering their third year or less) have to be significant contributors for this team to win the division and be a legitimate threat in the playoffs?*

Bryan:Ezekiel Elliott, La'el Collins and Byron Jones. Elliott is a no-brainer due to where he was selected and the plan they have for him in this offense. He is going to shoulder the majority of the load and if he is successful – this team will be a legitimate threat in the playoffs. La'el Collins needs to continue to developing working with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. He showed flashes of outstanding play and times where he was a rookie. His job is to keep the front of the pocket clean and give Tony Romo a place to step up. Byron Jones grew up fast last season. Coaches threw him in the deep end of the pool and he survived. This club is going to need him to be more than just a traffic cop – they need him to create turnovers and make plays on the ball. He has the ability to do both.  

David:Let's get the obvious one out of the way – Ezekiel Elliott has to live up to his expectation if this offense is going to be truly special. The other two are honestly more important, though. Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence have started 2016 in disappointing fashion, and they'll be absent for the start of the season. If this pass rush is going to exceed expectations, they both need to be great when they come back. I think they are the best hope this defense has for improving this year.

OSCAR GRIMESWHITESBORO, NY
I know Tony Romo has a big comfort level with Cole Beasley and last year during training camp Beasly seemed to be unstoppable during practices. What if Lucky has that same type of training camp? Could he possibly unseat Beasley of the starting slot WR position or cut into his reps?

Bryan:I like what you are thinking but in my opinion – Lucky doesn't have the "In-Game" savvy that Beasley has. Both are similar players with the quickness but that is about as far as it goes. Beasley just has a feel for how to work in coverage and get open. Some guys are just born with that ability and that is why Romo trusts Beasley so much.

David:I'm guessing not. You try not to let economics dictate football decisions too much, but the Cowboys are paying Beasley roughly $3.4 million per year to be their slot receiver, so it stands to reason they want him on the field. On top of that, Beasley has three years of experience and expertise on Whitehead. I've been wrong before, but I don't think he's in any danger of losing out on snaps.

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