The Dallas Cowboys have a rich history of legendary players. Bob Lily, Randy White, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson are some of the players on a very long list that have made a large impact on this league.
Who will be the next one?
The Cowboys’ legends over the decades have been defined by certain attributes.
In the 70’s and 80’s players like Charlie Waters and Roger Staubach represented a hard working, blue-collar brand of Cowboys that found success through a nasty style of play and a mean attitude.
In the 90’s the Cowboys had players like Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders who exemplified the current roster of players with raw talent and swagger that eventually led to three Super Bowl titles.
As the 2013 NFL Draft draws near, we analyze who is the best fit for the team’s current philosophy.
However, I offer something different. I ask “who best embodies the attributes that have defined the Cowboys legends over the ages?”
The grade scale is simple; I look at the same attributes that have brought wins and championships to this team. Those attributes are nastiness, raw talent, hard worker and swagger.
Lets look at what prospects could be the next “Mr. Cowboy”.
Key Attribute(s): Swagger, Nastiness, Raw Talent
I was relatively unfamiliar with Trufant until the Senior Bowl where I saw him match up against the game's best receivers and stymie them.
Trufant is an aggressive player who is tremendous in press-coverage and plays physical off the line. He has decent size and good speed, but overall it’s his technique that is the highlight of his game.
Trufant does everything quite well and projects as a very solid NFL cornerback who I think will be best in the slot.
When watching the Senior Bowl Trufant was constantly jaw-jacking, getting in his opponent's head. He would push other corners out of his way so that he could get better matchups and wasn’t afraid to display that swagger when he’d win the battles.
He should be fun to watch at the next level.
Key Attribute(s): Nastiness, Raw Talent, Hard Worker
Cowboys fans are warming up to the idea of acquiring Larry Warford as the draft preparation rages on.
Warford is an immovable object on the offensive line. He is athletic enough to be a factor when pulling but is really a wall on the offensive line. He doesn’t struggle at all once he gets a hand on his opponent and has maybe the best strength out of all the offensive guards in the draft.
Warford is a nasty player who embodies the same attitude as Larry Allen. He relies on his ability to overpower players and is really much like a bully out there against weaker defensive linemen.
Warford will be a good consolation prize for the team who can hold off or trade down and is looking to add a starting caliber guard in the early second.
Key Attribute(s): Nastiness
Fluker was part of a dynamic trio that started on the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
There has been growing speculation amongst fans that Fluker might be the Cowboys' selection on draft day. While he doesn’t have the same height as Flozell Adams, he is similar in size and nastiness.
Fluker is a tough offensive tackle who plays with a mean streak. He has the ability to stone opponents and has good enough footwork to fight of speed rushers as well. Fluker is a dynamic blocker in every aspect of the offensive game plan. The most important thing he brings to an offensive line is an intimidation factor.
I think Cowboys fans would love to welcome Fluker to the team.
Key Attribute(s): Nastiness, Raw Talent, Swagger
The Cowboys have been in need of a safety since the retirement of Darren Woodson. Historically the Cowboys like playmaking safeties whose big-hitting abilities are just as good as their coverage skills.
Meet Matt Elam.
What Elam lacks in size, he makes up for in sheer ability. At 5’10” Elam is seeing his stock come into question. However, he is a dynamic playmaker with decent range and great instincts inside the box. He is a big hitter and is always around the play.
Elam is a talented kid who does everything well. When you watch him you see an intense leader who is the epitome of nasty and he defines swagger. He has an unmatched confidence and he leads not only with his voice but also his play.
Elam is the kind of the safety that can be a leader for the team. Yes, he isn’t the prototypical size of an NFL safety but people said that about Russell Wilson as a quarterback.
If I had the opportunity, I’d take Elam on my team every time.
Key Attribute(s): Hard Worker
If anyone is the prototypical ‘Mr. Cowboy” in this draft I think it’s Barrett Jones. Jones is a versatile athlete that isn’t an exceptional raw talent but a hard-worker who has found success through commitment.
Jones is a highly decorated prospect who projects as an offensive center in the NFL draft. While he does project at center he is capable of playing all the positions on the offensive line.
Jones is a smart lineman who recognizes defensive schemes and can neutralize complex rushes. He rarely struggles as a run-blocker and rarely makes mental mistakes. He isn’t the overly talented prospect like his teammate Chance Warmack but he is a highly-regarded prospect who has worked for everything he’s earned.
Jones is a quick player who utilizes extremely good technique. His work ethic, attitude and intelligence exemplify the type of player that Tom Landry would have loved to have.
Key Attribute(s): Nastiness, Raw Talent, Swagger, Hard Worker
Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith were Dallas Cowboys running backs who were feared throughout the NFL.
It’s been a long time since the Cowboys have had anyone comparable to one of those players.
Lacy embodies everything it means to be a Dallas Cowboy. He plays with nastiness when he runs, breaking tackles and leaving defenders in his wake. He has pure talent and swagger that transforms into a confidence that becomes consistency. Lastly, he is always working to get better. Playing behind Trent Richardson allowed Lacy to learn what it means to be a great running back, something he’s sure to emulate.
Lacy is powerful, fast and possesses great vision. The Cowboys lack a durable back with this skill set that can tear teams apart with his pure ability.
He could be the next great Cowboys rusher.