Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) defends against New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson (19) at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 10 Most Important Dallas Cowboys in 2013

Who are the 10 most important Cowboys in 2013? Who are the Cowboy’s leaning on to have Pro Bowl seasons and who are the most indispensable on the roster? Here in Part 1 we will look at #10 through #6 and discuss why they are so important to the success of the Cowboys.

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick (70) participates in drills during rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

10. Travis Frederick

The controversial first round pick from Wisconsin will be under extremely intense pressure in 2013. Not only will be he feel the need to justify his draft position but he will be asked to immediately upgrade the offensive line as a day one starter. Being the sole OL upgrade thus far in the offseason, the Cowboys need Travis to hit the ground running.

The past two seasons Phil Costa (and Ryan Cook) struggled with calling blocking assignments. Because of this Tony Romo was asked to read defenses AND make blocking assignments all before the play clock expires. Only a handful of QB’s are asked to do this and very rarely are they successful. Ideally the center would call blocking assignments while the QB reads the coverage calling audibles if needed. If Frederick can win the starting spot at center and successfully call the blocking assignments, this offense will run much more smoothly in 2013.

 9. Anthony Spencer

Where exactly the pass rush will be generated from in 2013 remains partially a mystery. Sure, DeMarcus Ware will provide the bulk of the pass rush but who else will contribute? In a traditional Monte Kiffin defense the pass rush was primarily generated by the weakside DE (Ware) and the 3- technique defensive tackle position. Early defensive line projections say Hatcher is expected to occupy the famous 3-technique undertackle role made famous by Warren Sapp. But to ask him (or Ratliff) to produce like Sapp is a little far-fetched.  Kiffin designs his defenses to play to his players’ strengths rather than fitting a specific system. Spencer has been retained at a high price for a reason. Simply setting the edge and covering the flat will not justify his cost. He will need to be an effective pass rusher opposite Ware.

8. Morris Claiborne

It’s not uncommon for rookie CB’s to struggle so no one should be too worried about Claiborne’s 2012 performance. But second year expectations are high and Mo will be given every opportunity to succeed in Monte Kiffin’s turnover prone defense. If he increases his confidence and disguises his coverages as explained here: (Expecting Turnovers) he could develop into the playmaker this secondary needs.

Together with CB Brandon Carr, he could take a great deal of pressure off of the worrisome SS/FS situation.

7. Jason Witten

Many are yelling, “Jason Witten listed as #7? He should be number 1!” Hear me out – Witten is truly one of the top Dallas Cowboys on the roster. He plays a vital role as Tony Romo’s safety net and team leader. Since he no longer possesses the speed he once did, he relies on film study and savvy to get open. His in-line blocking has also taken a dip in effectiveness but he is still easily considered a rare “Complete TE”. Witten is an excellent player and key to success for the Cowboys in 2013, but his replaceability is easier now than it ever has been.

Much like Witten, Gavin Escobar doesn’t have top speed but he’s very athletic and has excellent catching ability. His blocking is almost on par with Witten (Gavin is better than he’s given credit for and Witten isn’t as good as people think) and if he can gain Romo’s trust, he can help round out one of the deeper units on this team. With the intriguing James Hanna as the 3rd TE, this positional group looks strong. Witten is just as good as ever, but since the unit appears so strong behind him he slips from #3 to #7 in importance. Be happy, that’s a good thing.

6. DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray simply needs to stay healthy. The run game is atrocious without him. Count the number of times Murray was hit in the backfield and still managed a positive gain. Normal RB’s can’t do what he does. Until this offensive line improves up the middle, Murray is irreplaceable.

Stay tuned for the top five most important Cowboys in 2013…

Do you have a question you’d like answered or a topic you’d like discussed?

Email Reid Hanson at [email protected]

 

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Tags: Anthony Spencer Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten Travis Frederick

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