Opinions are like noses, as they say, everyone has one. One area where many differing opinions are expressed is the level of talent the Cowboys have. I have no problem giving my opinion on the subject, so let’s take a look at players by position.
Quarterback: There has been much discussion on this position, with Tony Romo signing a very lucrative extension. Many have expressed he’s not worth it and that the Cowboys need to move on. Those that express that opinion fail to answer the question, who would you replace him with? I realize that wins are the most important factor when evaluating this position, but short needed talent on the offensive line, wins have not been at the level most of us want to see. So we look at statistics, and there we see that Romo is right up there with the perceived elite quarterbacks. Given needed talent at support positions, Romo can accomplish what these other QB’s have.
Running back: The third round selection of DeMarco Murray was a steal. In Murray the Cowboys have a running back that can break a game open, much as he did in his breakout game against the Rams. With a good offensive line he can do great things. There are less than a handful of running backs that I would even consider over Murray and he is still young enough to have substantial upside, let’s just hope he stays healthy.
Receiver: Dez Bryant had a great second half of the 2012 season and provides us with great hope going into the 2013 season. If he picks up where he left off, who would you say you would rather have? Miles Austin has struggled with health issues for the last couple of years. Before that, he was an almost unstoppable force with the ability to break tackles and turn short slants into touchdowns. There are very few receivers in this league that I would select over a healthy Austin.
At third receiver, Dwayne Harris will make some big plays in 2013. He is also a receiver that just started showing us the kind of things he can do. No doubt there are more accomplished third receivers playing for other teams, but I think Harris will keep us from thinking about them once the season gets underway.
Tight end: Jason Witten is as good a receiving tight end as any and a better blocker than most. He returns for the 2013 season, after breaking the NFL record for receptions by tight ends in 2012. Who would you take over him? I think there are very few names on that list. And at second tight end, the combination of speed and size possessed by James Hanna presents a real upside for the future at this position.
Offensive line: Tyron Smith is a talented young tackle that should be there for years to come. I can’t think of another tackle I would rather see playing this position for the Cowboys. The rest of the line needs upgrading and therein lies the source of the Cowboys issues on offense.
Cornerback: Brandon Carr was an expensive free agent signing and an example of how costly it is to stock a team through free agency, rather than the draft. But Carr showed us last year reasons why the Cowboys paid the price to secure his services. Perhaps if the Cowboys knew they were going to be able to make a move in the draft to select Morris Claiborne, they would not have signed Carr, but they did and now, with Claiborne, they have two corners that should be highly productive for years to come. I can’t think of another team with this level of talent with their corners as a pair.
Safety: By deciding to cut Gerald Sensabaugh, the Cowboys are somewhat weak at this position. They might do fine with Barry Church returning from injury and Matt Johnson, who has never played a down in the NFL. But the signing of Will Allen indicates the Cowboys don’t want to take their chances with just Church and Johnson. I think there is a strong possibility the Cowboys select Kenny Vacarro, if he’s still there at eighteen, and turn this position of weakness into one of strength for the team.
Linebacker: It’s yet to be determined who will man the outside on the strong side, but as far as the other two positions and players are concerned, is there anyone you would take over Sean Lee and Bruce Carter? I can’t come up with any names.
Defensive line: Anthony Spencer was given the expensive franchise tag again for 2013 for a reason. The new defensive coaches like what they see and did not want him to get away. Look for big things from Spencer with him no longer having to cover the pass. The same goes for DeMarcus Ware. I am sure others have their favorites for this position from other teams, but I don’t know of anyone I would rather have. The Cowboys have a lot of bodies to throw at the defensive tackle position, but starters will be Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher. Ratliff should be ever better, no longer playing over center, and Hatcher is a good and consistent player. There might be others better at the position, but I think the Cowboys can do very well with the players they have, plus at least one selection in the draft.
The Cowboys have players as good, or better, than many teams. They just need them to stay healthy. But in case they do get injured, the Cowboys need to work on improving their depth.