Could the Dallas Cowboys have the best 25 and under roster in the NFL?
The difference between winners and losers in the National Football League is usually quite minuscule. The end result of the majority of games come down to one score or less. Possibly no team knows this better than the Dallas Cowboys.
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys played in five games that ended with the final score being within seven points or less. Dallas lost all five of those games. Given that they missed out on winning the division by just one game, the fact that they could not come through in those situations was a major factor as to why they sat at home in January.
It probably also helped seal the fate of their former head coach. One of the biggest reasons why the same teams are successful year after year is, in fact, coaching. The Dallas Cowboys are betting that former Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy is enough of an upgrade over Jason Garrett to get this team back into the playoffs.
Another factor in sustainable success within the NFL is possessing young, cheap talent. This is clearly a strength for the Dallas Cowboys. Arguably, they may possess the best collection of talent aged 25 and under in football.
Take one look at the roster and you will see that more than half of the team falls into this age group. This construction of talent is definitely the way to go in a grueling game such as football. Interestingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys have just 11 players over the age of 30. Of that group, one is the backup quarterback, two are kickers and two others are the punter and long snapper.
The Dallas Cowboys have definitely built this team to have their most important players be part of the youth movement. Starting with the cornerback spot, Dallas will have four corners all under the age of 25 in 2020. Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Trevon Diggs, and Reggie Robinson, II will all play big roles out on the perimeter of the defense. Add in safety Xavier Woods and that is five youthful major contributors in the defensive backfield.
At linebacker, the Cowboys have not one, but two Pro Bowl players under the age of 25 in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. Backup Luke Gifford, who reminds some of a young Sean Lee, makes three linebackers who will log a high snap count in 2020.
Offensively, Dallas could possibly start two players younger than 25 on their offensive line. Third-year man Connor Williams should lock down the guard spot opposite Zack Martin, while rookie Tyler Biadasz will compete with last year’s third-round selection Connor McGovern for a possible shot to be the starting center.
The brightest of offensive stars, however, are undoubtedly the trifecta of skill position players tasked with lighting up the scoreboard. Third-year receiver Michael Gallup will look to maintain his impressive ascension amongst the league’s great young receivers.
Last week, I wrote about my predictions for Gallup in 2020. After a huge boost from his rookie to sophomore seasons, I believe we will see another 1,000+ yard season from him. Of course, he’ll be sharing looks from quarterback Dak Prescott with 21-year old rookie CeeDee Lamb.
Lamb should come in and immediately fill the WR3 role previously occupied by Randall Cobb and Cole Beasley before him. In 2019, Cobb saw 83 targets in this role, while the three years prior, Beasley averaged the exact same number. I have him catching more than half of these targets while averaging almost 14 yards per catch. Of course, while these two will look to cause headaches for opposing defenses, the biggest young star of them all is running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Arguably the best running back in all of football, Elliott is going to be playing 2020 with a chip on his shoulder. For most of last season and all of the offseason, all he has heard is disrespect on his name.
All he has done in four years is amass over 5,000 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns. A three-time Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro in 2016, look for Elliott to once again go for much more than 1,000 yards on the ground this season while pushing for double-digit touchdowns.
Three Pro Bowl players, one of which has already been an All-Pro. Another on the verge of a Pro Bowl nod. Several others working their way towards these accolades. The Dallas Cowboys roster is flush with young talent.
While 2020 has been a tough year for most of us, it could prove to be a coming-out party of these young Cowboys. Staking their claim to the best young roster in the NFL is the kind of thing we all need right about now.