The Dallas Cowboys come in at six in PFF ‘s 2020 Roster Rankings
Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently gave a rare look into their player grades for free, by publishing their 2020 NFL roster rankings. The bigger surprise than them releasing free content was the Dallas Cowboys being ranked as the sixth-most talented roster in the NFL heading into this season. Joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only non-playoff teams from 2019 to crack the top nine of the list.
The methodology of the list consisted of various factors but the largest weighted factor was morphing together every starter’s PFF player grade together. Giving the site the ability to rank the NFL teams one thru 32. This isn’t a total power ranking, but more of an ability to show the ceiling of a team’s starting unit using their 2019 analytical numbers.
Still, you can do any methodology in America and still, it would surprising to have the Cowboys come in at number six. But if you look at the landscape of the NFC now, is it that far of a stretch to have the team come in as the fourth-best roster in the Conference? A post-NFL Draft power ranking on NFL.com put America’s Team as the third-best team in the NFC, touting their wide receiver group.
Are they actually that talented this season? The offense is good but holes at tight end and secondary should hold them back from being in the top-six of rosters for the entire NFL, correct?
Lucky for the Dallas Cowboys, the holes are at the right positions
The Cowboys as an organization are seeming to realize that their roster in the current salary cap position they are in will have holes but they can be covered if at the right spots. With this mindset, the team has put more stake into the skill players around quarterback Dak Prescott and less stake into the stardom of the secondary or stardom of their tight end group.
I am not in the front office of an NFL team so, I will rely on the numbers that PFF gave with their article to back up this point. But if you read the Cowboys section, the article states the following …
"“Losing cornerback Byron Jones is going to hurt the Cowboys’ secondary. Rookie Trevon Diggs is a player PFF liked coming out of Alabama — someone who projects well in a press-heavy, zone scheme — but you can’t expect him to replace a top-10 cornerback such as Jones as a rookie.”"
Also, tight end Blake Jarwin is not expected to be close to the first down machine former tight end Jason Witten was for a very, very long time. So, those are the obvious holes but they come at positions that the team could potentially get past if they cover them up correctly. So, what should the cover-up plan be?
Pray for 750-yards and some rookie contributions
Outside of the tight end position for the Cowboys last season, the running back and wide receiver units were able to post 4,002 yards receiving. The fourth-most by those two groups combined in 2019 if you do the calculation of receiving yards minus tight end receiving yards for each NFL team.
So, if an even more talented and seasoned running back and receiving group post similar numbers, all the Cowboys committee of tight ends will do is have to post around 750-yards, to have a top passing offense. It seems that the hole is covered nicely and recognized by the teams play-calling, dating back to last season.
Leaving just the secondary being a glaring weakness but that is not set in stone quite yet due to the draft strategy of the organization in 2020. Hoping that either or both rookie cornerbacks Trevon Diggs (second-round pick) or Reggie Robinson II (fourth-round pick) are able to contribute on the field right away.
So, depending on their play being mixed into the play of the four remaining secondary mainstays of the past few seasons and the arrival of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Cowboys hope their depth out back helps keep offenses in front of them. It would be very exciting if the 2020 version of America’s Team can live up to these expectations and be a top player in the NFC.