With the Dallas Cowboys regular season kicking off this weekend, we try to determine which players have the most to prove in the coming months.
The Dallas Cowboys have plenty to prove this year. Coming off a 13-3 regular season guided by two talented rookies, expectations are sky high for America’s Team. But with last year’s success comes a laundry list of obstacles for the Cowboys to climb this season.
The first speed bump was provided via free agency. This offseason, Dallas lost several starters to the open market and retirement. Along their touted offensive line, starting right tackle Doug Free hung up his cleats after 10 years and called it a career. Starting left guard Ronald Leary found much greener pastures in Denver joining the Broncos to the tune of $36 million over the next four years.
Also lost to free agency were three starters in the defensive secondary: cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne plus veteran safety Barry Church. Fellow safety J.J. Wilcox, defensive lineman Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain will play for other teams this season.
The next obstacle for the Cowboys was the 2017 NFL Draft. Because of their previous record, Dallas didn’t make their first pick until the 28th overall selection. The year before, the Cowboys possessed the fourth overall pick and chose the NFL’s rushing leader as a rookie, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
This year, Dallas selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton in the first round with the 28th pick. That’s despite the fact the Cowboys actually had a second round grade on the former Wolverine.
Finally, the Cowboys face a much tougher schedule due in part to their success last season. With teams like the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals on tap plus improved NFC East opponents means Dallas will have a much tougher time reproducing the success they had last season.
So, yes, the Dallas Cowboys, as a team, have a lot to prove this year. But so do some of their players. Here are six Cowboys I believe have the most to prove in the 2017 NFL regular season.