Oklahoma State Football: Ranking the Best Cowboys Currently in the NFL
The Oklahoma State Cowboys football program has risen to recent prominence under current head coach Mike Gundy and his predecessor Les Miles. Their national prominence has also produced a good crop of proven NFL talent.
It was anything but easy trying to rank who the best NFL Cowboys are right now. The key factors in formulating the list were longevity, positional importance and proven on-the-field ability.
These Cowboys are the pride of the program, carrying their success their to the next level, while their legacy remains in Stillwater. They also are a diverse group, covering offense, defense and special teams. Needless to say, they are proof that the Cowboy football program is headed in a great direction.
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Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
In his first two seasons with the Cowboys, kicker Dan Bailey has hit 89.7 percent of his field goals and 100 percent of his extra point attempts. Bailey scored all 18 of the Cowboys' points on six field goals in a win over the Redskins.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
After a slow start to his rookie season that included off-the-field issues, Blackmon came on at the end, tallying 64 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns, 236 of which came in an overtime loss to the Texans.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Overlooked when he came out of Oklahoma State, the mid-round pick has proven himself as a dependable NFL back, rushing 184 times for 844 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons as Frank Gore’s backup.
Antonio Smith, Houston Texas
One of the most seasoned Cowboys in the NFL, Antonio Smith has played for eight seasons in the NFL for two teams, compiling 188 tackles and 36.5 sacks as a defensive end.
Jacob Lacey, Detroit Lions
Jacob Lacey is one of the more overlooked Cowboys in the NFL, but he is having a nice career, playing significant time for the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions and has accumulating 198 tackles.
5. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
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If it weren’t for the importance of the quarterback position, Brandon Weeden not be on this list, with a possible spot as an Honorable Mention. He has only played one season in the NFL and it was not a particularly good one at that.
However, Weeden did show promise in his first year, helping lead the Cleveland Browns to five wins. He also threw for over 3,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. Still, his future in Cleveland is unclear with a new coaching staff and ownership taking over the franchise.
4. Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks
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For the first few years of his career, it was still up in the air as to whether Russell Okung was worth the No 6 overall draft pick the Seattle Seahawks to bring him onto their team. However, he now appears well worth it.
Okung earned his first Pro Bowl honors this past season and helped protect Russell Wilson and pave the way for running back Marshawn Lynch. Being on one of the best teams in the NFL helps Okung tremendously on this list and it seems likely that he will earn a Super Bowl ring at some point in his career.
3. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
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Another first round draft pick, Brandon Pettigrew has been one of the best recent Cowboys in the NFL. He was underused at Oklahoma State because he played during the run-first period there, but he has blossomed in the NFL.
The vaunted Detroit passing attack would not be what it is without Pettigrew, who has caught 243 passes for 2,412 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in four seasons. Pettigrew is already among the best in his position and he only appears to be improving.
2. Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings
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Kevin Williams is likely the most decorated NFL player to come out of Oklahoma State. Though he has not won a Super Bowl, he has done just about everything else an individual defensive tackle can do.
Drafted by the Vikings with the ninth pick in 2003, Williams has gone to six Pro Bowls and achieved All-Pro status five times. He also was named to the NFL’s 2000's All-Decade team and would be higher on this list if he were not nearing the twilight of his career.
1. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
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Putting Dez Bryant No. 1 on this list might be controversial. He has been extremely inconsistent since being required by the NCAA to sit out his last year at Oklahoma State. At times, he looks like one of the best receivers in the game. At others, he looks like a complete knucklehead.
I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. There is no question that he is one of the most talented Cowboys in the NFL right now, and he appears to finally be realizing his massive potential. The 2012 season was his third and he finally performed like the No. 1 receiver all Oklahoma State fans knew he could be with 92 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, including three 145-plus yard performances.