Dallas Cowboys – primed for a Super Bowl run?
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFL with five players making the PFF 50, one more than any other team. While the Cowboys don’t have a player come up until No. 17 in the list (Travis Frederick), they do have 10 percent of the 50 best players in the game heading into the 2017 season, and that doesn’t count their quarterback, Dak Prescott, who enjoyed a historic rookie season and could become something special in 2017.
Dallas has built through the draft well in recent seasons, and it has begun to bear fruit. They may have been one and done in the playoffs this past year, but it took some Aaron Rodgers magic and one of the greatest games in NFL playoff history for it to happen after an epic comeback by Dallas in the fourth quarter.
Three members of the team’s offensive line made the list, and when each plays to their potential, the Cowboys have arguably the best tackle, guard and center in the league. That trio helped pave the way for RB Ezekiel Elliott to lead the league in rushing yards in his rookie season, but Elliott also almost eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards after contact, so he was bringing plenty to the table in that relationship.
With Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Dak Prescott also in the mix, the Dallas offense figures to once again be one of the better units in the NFL.
The question mark surrounding this team is the defense, which has undergone significant turnover and has clearly been the weaker link for some time.
Dallas heads into the season with only Sean Lee as an upper-echelon starter on defense, and the only member of the defense to make the top 50 list. Lee has been a dominant linebacker throughout his NFL career as long as he has been healthy, which thankfully is becoming less of a caveat as time goes by and he remains unaffected by injuries.
They are scheduled to start a pair of rookies, with Taco Charlton responsible for transforming their anaemic pass rush and Chidobe Awuzie facing a tough proposition of holding up as a starting cornerback at the first year of asking.
Charlton notched 49 total pressures in his final season at Michigan, which was certainly solid, but some way shy of the best marks in the FBS, as Utah’s Hunter Dimick led the nation with 86.
The NFL has seen plenty of teams lately make playoff runs and even win championships with unbalanced rosters, but the stronger side of the ball needs to be dominant to make up for the shortcomings of the weaker side. If Dallas can’t get solid play out of their defense, they will need that offense to be at the peak of its powers, but if they can, they suddenly become one of the toughest teams in the game to take out.