Buy or Sell: Dallas Cowboys' Young Franchise Players
Cowboys fans, we've been lobbying for the Cowboys to move towards the future. Whether through adding new players or a new coach, the consensus seems to be that the Cowboys need to rebuild or retool in some manner.
In some ways the Cowboys have retooled. They've added talented young players who have great upside. Yet, it seems that throughout the past two years we haven't seen the return we would have liked.
I believe that we've reached an important time. A time where we need to decide whether these players are the players that will lead the Cowboys into the next era.
It's time to buy or sell.
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Whew. Talk about a tale of Jekyll and Hyde.
A few short weeks ago fans and media alike were ready to send Dez Bryant packing to the lowest bidder. Now, after two straight 100+ yard games, Bryant has morphed from troubled wide receiver to potential game breaker.
In 2012, Dez Bryant is staring at a career season. A troubled offseason is well in his past and now we're starting to see what No. 88 has to offer.
He's simply been electrifying.
Dez Bryant is the type of receiver who strikes fear into opposing defenses. His unique blend of side, speed and athleticism makes him as dangerous as there is in the NFL.
Now, don't get me wrong, Bryant has his struggles. He is fiery and quick to anger. However, is that such a bad thing? I've been watching the Cowboys a long time and I happen to think that fire and passion is the one thing we lack. There is also reason to believe that he is maturing. After all, he had the chance to lay out DeAngelo Hall and didn't.
Buy: Dez Bryant has rare talent. He is still unbelievably young and if he continues with his work ethic and focus he can be one of the best receivers in the game. There is no reason to believe that he can't be the franchise receiver that the Cowboys envisioned him being.
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Murray has been a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys. He has been a workhorse back in a league that has seen them become endangered.
Yet to me, Murray is starting to join the company of Julius Jones, Marion Barber and Felix Jones.
The truth is that Murray has all the talent in the world. He can be among the league leaders in every category. However, until he can prove he can stay healthy in this league he's doing nothing but disappointing a championship-deprived franchise.
I know that some of you are mad about what I'm saying. I get it. The truth is though that Murray hasn't shown me that he can be a franchise back.
Let's just look at it for what it is.
Murray was a first- to second-round prospect who fell into the third round because of injury. The Jones' knew what they were getting in him. Yes, he has been admirable when rushing but whats the point of relying on a guy that won't be able to contribute consistently for you?
Sell: It pains me to say, but as much as I try and force myself I can't see Murray as the next great Cowboy rusher. I think that Murray will likely have one more year to prove himself, but if the Cowboys have a shot at a solid rusher (like Stepfan Taylor out of Stanford) I believe they need to make a run at him.
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First off, I'd like to brag on myself for a little bit. I am one of the few that mocked Sean Lee to the Cowboys a few years ago.
And I still love him.
I'm just not sure that I love him as much as I used to. Lee has been fantastic for the Cowboys but his ability to stay healthy is still a huge question.
The Cowboys seem to have a history of drafting players with durability concerns but good upside. While it's a good strategy in theory, recent evidence suggests it's a waste.
Now back to Lee...
Lee is a fast player who has a nose for the ball. He is an above-average tackler who is excellent in pursuit. He can play man coverage on most tight ends and is nearly flawless in zone coverage. Projections would tell you that Sean Lee would most likely lead all linebackers in tackles and fair in the top 10 percent of the league in forced turnovers.
There is really just one question that remains. Is Sean Lee's playmaking ability, leadership and potential worth the games the Cowboys will have to play without him? Is the amount of wins he impacts worth the losses his absence will produce?
Buy: It scares me to put the future on a guy who has such a history of injury. However, Sean Lee really is one tough son-of-a-gun. In my estimation Sean Lee's presence impacts about five wins a season. That meaning that I believe that as long as Sean Lee is active the defense plays well enough to win five games on its own.
That's a bet I'll take.
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Okay, Lets go through a quick checklist for great linebackers in this league:
Good Tackler? Check.
Bruce Carter has certainly risen to fan favorite quickly hasn't he?
While Carter has filled in for Lee admirably he has ended up with the exact same fate. It's unlikely that Carter will play the rest of the season because of an elbow injury and that's a shame.
Carter will finish the season with 70 tackles. A nice mark for a guy who wasn't even sure if he would start in 2012.
Yet his injury leaves me feeling something similar than I do with DeMarco Murray. I want to leave it all on the table; Bruce Carter is not better than Sean Lee. No matter how you cut it Carter doesn't even match up with the skill set that Lee has.
For some reason though, I find myself somewhat in a bromantic love with Carter. His rise has been incredible to watch and he could really develop into a top player in the league.
Sell*: Before you guys go all crazy there is a caveat to what I'm saying. If Carter can turn in a healthy season next year than this all changes. My reason for selling is that I find it impossible to invest and rely upon two inside linebackers who are injury prone. You can't win in this league with two of your best linebackers are consistently injured
Carter has great skills. Lee and Carter could grow into one of the best tandems in the league. However, if I had to choose, I would chose Lee every time.
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Fans seem to be quite upset with the drafting of Morris Claiborne. Mostly because the Cowboys gave up two very good picks to get him.
I think these fans are crazy.
It's been a roller coaster season for Claiborne. He has displayed excellent coverage skills but has also shown us that he's dealing with some growing pains.
One thing we have to remember is that cornerback is one of, if not the most, difficult positions to play in football.
I've studied Claiborne a lot. My scouting report for him is that he is an above-average press corner with superb potential. He displays good form tackling but could play a little tougher. He plays bigger than he is and isn't afraid to take risks. Claiborne will likely develop into a playmaking cornerback but not an island one.
Buy: All day long I'll buy Mo. He is the type of player I want on my football team. He works hard and takes criticism well. He genuinely seems to want to play better every week. A couple weeks ago he made a commitment to the team to never turn in a bad game like he has previously. He wants to win, he wants to be great and he fits in the future plans of the Dallas Cowboys.
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Potential nicknames for Tyron Smith include Doug Free 2.0, Mr. False Start or Texas Hold 'Em.
It's probably unfair but it's 100 percent accurate.
Tyron Smith hasn't played to the caliber we've expected him to play. There has been a noticeable level of regression in his game since the move to left tackle.
Make no mistake though, Smith has immense talent.
I know this year has been tough on him. He's young and still learning. Not to mention that he's getting no help on the offensive line. I think that Tyron just needs time to develop.
When I look at Smith I see a franchise tackle. He does everything well. While he still has room to improve it's hard to believe that the Cowboys could be a better team by letting him move on a few years down the road.
Smith represents the only true stability on the offensive line.
Buy: You have to keep Smith. Good offensive lineman are incredibly tough to find. Add that Smith is one of the youngest players in the league and you have to believe that the future is extremely bright. In fact, I'll go out on a limb to say that if I had the chance to redraft for the Cowboys I still would have selected Smith over J.J. Watt.