After some shrewd free agent signings and another promising draft from the Dallas Cowboys, this is the biggest question heading into the 2017 season.
Now that the dust has settled from the 2017 NFL Draft, it’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to start evaluating the current roster.
After adding nine fresh faces via the selection process, Dallas has certainly improved the depth of their roster. Still, there remains a few questions heading into the 2017 season.
One of head coach Jason Garrett’s mantras is “compete.”
It is definitely a huge part of the day-to-day demeanor of this football team. Garrett learned as a player, watching former head coach Jimmy Johnson churn the roster. For a while, there was someone new trying out for someone else’s job on a weekly basis.
Garrett preaches competition with his guys, trying to get the best out of each player or finding someone better suited for the job.
One look at the post-draft roster and you know that this offseason is going to be full of competition. OTA’s, mini-camps and training camps will all be a sight to see.
Even though the roster is probably in the best shape it’s been in this decade, there are still a few question marks.
One that immediately comes to mind is the backup quarterback position. Yes, Dak Prescott is the present and future of this team. The Cowboys were fortunate to find a player of his character and talent to take over the reigns.
Behind him, however, is Kellen Moore. To say that the jury is still out on whether he could fill in for two to four games would be kind.
Obviously there aren’t even 32 good starting quarterbacks in this league so expecting your backup to be great is unrealistic. All you ask is that they don’t become the sole reason you lose games if they ever see the field.
Is Moore capable of keeping the ship afloat if need be? Also, with no current threat to him in the form of a third quarterback present, where is that competition? Lastly, do the Dallas Cowboys want to continue to tinker with moving Jameill Showers again.
Last season he was working as a safety. Is it really productive to throw him back into the quarterback mix?
Another question that comes to mind is the position of right tackle.
It’s easy to forget with guys like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin that there is a big hole on the right side. Can Chaz Green finally stay healthy and be the long-term solution? Will La’el Collins have to move outside? Is there a dark horse candidate that might settle the position?
Both of these situations are valid questions but one area stands out more than any other on this team.
For me, the biggest question mark for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 is…
Can this team count on anything from linebacker Jaylon Smith?
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As of right now, all anyone has as it relates to Smith is hope. After suffering a devastating knee injury almost 18 months ago, he still is not close to 100%. No one knows for sure at what level, if any, he can perform.
If you ask Smith, one of the most positive guys you’ll ever meet, the reason to be optimistic is easy. Of course, you also have the always pie-in-the-sky optimism of owner Jerry Jones who apparently dabbles is medicine as well.
Still it’s an unknown and a big one at that.
The Dallas Cowboys have done nothing, either via free agency or the draft to address the linebacker position.
They do have Pro Bowler Sean Lee out there on one side, flying all over the field and making big plays left and right. Other than that, however, the linebacker corps is full of question marks.
Can third year guy Damien Wilson continue to improve and be a viable starter in the middle if Smith can’t play? Will they bring back Justin Durant if things look dismal in the offseason camps? Has Anthony Hitchens reached his plateau?
It seems as if the Cowboys are putting the large majority of their eggs in the Jaylon Smith basket.
No one is rooting harder for the kid to get a chance to showcase his talents. If Dallas can get even 85% of what Smith “could have been” fully healthy, they would take that in a heartbeat.
Hopefully, Smith can have a long and prosperous career.
If so, this team could be ready to build another dynasty. If not, the linebacker position will undoubtedly be the biggest question mark of the 2017 season.