At this point in the football offseason, NFL writers are twiddling their thumbs. The draft is over. Free agency is pretty much finished. Training camp is still a few weeks away. And, most players are on vacation getting some rest in before the chaos begins. That means a lot of the news and updates we are getting about the Dallas Cowboys these days are opinions, speculation, and rankings.
All the major analysts love to put out their rankings of who the best players are at all the given positions. Every major sports outlet does their own and most of them have some overlap but also some obvious differences.
One recent ranking done by ESPN seemed to not sit well with recently re-signed Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse.
Over the weekend, ESPN published their top 10 safeties for 2022. The rankings were put together by polling over 40 league executives, coaches, scouts, and players. All voters told ESPN who they believed were the top 10 safeties. From there, ESPN ranked the players based on the number of top-10 votes received and average ranking.
Not only was Kearse not in the top 10, but he also wasn’t included in the eight honorable mentions nor the five other safeties who received stray votes. Given the 23 names mentioned, this tweet that the Cowboys safety sent out over the weekend seems too coincidental to not be related. Kearse was clearly frustrated to not be included after a breakout season.
Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse tweets about his frustration with ESPN’s latest safety rankings
For reference, these are the players who made the top 10:
Here’s the full list:
- Justin Simmons, Broncos
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers
- Keith Byard, Titans
- Derwin James, Colts
- Budda Baker, Cardinals
- Jesse Bates II, Bengals
- Harrison Smith, Vikings
- Marcus Williams, Ravens
- Antoine Winfield Jr., Buccaneers
- Jamal Adams, Seahawks
Is Kearse an All-Pro or Pro Bowl-caliber safety at this time? Arguably not. But does a breakout season make him worthy of being mentioned somewhere within 23 other players in the league? Absolutely.
After four unexciting years in Minnesota and another in Detroit, Kearse came to Dallas on a prove-it deal. And he proved himself. He broke his personal records in nearly all statistical categories. In 16 games played, he collected two interceptions, 10 passes defended, one fumble recovery, one sack, nine tackles for loss, and 101 tackles. He was the leading tackler (by far) on the Cowboys roster and even took over defensive playcalling midseason.
So his frustration is warranted, and the Cowboys certainly don’t seem to agree with whoever the voters were given they just gave Kearse a two-year extension.
While how you rank among your peers is certainly important, it’s not like Kearse has gone ignored. Pro Football Focus named him the most improved player and the best offseason signing of 2022. Pro Football Network ranked him No. 10 on their top safeties list. Plus, his 76.8 PFF grade ranked him the 13th-best safety in the NFL from 2021.
If anything, Kearse can use this season to prove ESPN wrong. The 28-year-old is poised to be a big leader amongst a young defensive back corps in 2022.