Ranking the 5 Best Dallas Cowboys Who Are 25 and Younger
The Dallas Cowboys have several players who are 25 and under that they heavily rely on. NFL teams need quality young guys to help win now, while providing a core of talent to build around in the future.
Dallas has been one of the most mediocre franchises the last few seasons. After another 8-8 campaign in 2012, owner Jerry Jones is ready to finally generate a winner.
In order for the Cowboys to contend for the Super Bowl this year, they’ll need their young stars to produce and grow.
5. Morris Claiborne
Morris Claiborne didn’t turn too many heads in his rookie season, but was a solid starter for 15 games. Despite only recording one interception, the Cowboys have very high expectations for the former first-round pick.
Claiborne will start at corner opposite Brandon Carr for the second consecutive season. Together they formed the best duo Dallas has had in a long time.
For the Cowboys defense to be more successful, it’ll need to create more turnovers. Last season it ranked next to last in the NFC with only 16 takeaways.
Claiborne’s progression will play a large part in that.
It will also help that some key playmakers on the defense will return from injury. With a healthy Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware, opposing quarterbacks will have less time in the pocket, creating more opportunities for Claiborne.
4. DeMarco Murray
When he’s been on the field, DeMarco Murray has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL. However, he’s missed nine games in his first two seasons due to injury.
Murray is the best running back Dallas has had since Emmitt Smith left in 2003. He’s averaged 4.8 yards per carry through his two shortened years.
Murray’s shown that he can be an explosive back that combines both solid power and speed. He’s reeled off numerous big plays, including a 91-yard touchdown sprint against St. Louis in 2011.
The ceiling for Murray is extremely high; he just needs to find a way to stay healthy for a full season.
3. Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith has been the brightest part of the Cowboys offensive line the past two years. Dallas selected him with the No. 9 overall pick back in 2011 to be its franchise tackle for years to come.
Smith started every game for the Cowboys as a rookie and has missed only one game in his career thus far.
In his first year, Smith played right tackle and was consistent all season. Last year he made the move to the left side of the line to protect Tony Romo’s blindside.
Barring injury, Smith will only improve as his skill set becomes more polished. He’s sure to be one of the better tackles in the league and a reliable cog on Dallas’ line.
2. Bruce Carter
Bruce Carter was one of the biggest surprises for the Cowboys in 2012. The second-round pick from 2011 didn’t start a single game his rookie year, but was able to record 70 tackles in just 11 games last season.
Similar to Murray, Carter has had his share of injury problems. However, when he’s been available to play, Carter’s shown he can do so at an elite level.
Carter missed the beginning of his rookie year due to an injury he suffered in college. Then after looking great through 12 weeks last season, he endured a season-ending elbow injury.
Carter was extremely impressive last year because of how well he stepped up with the absence of Lee. He was a natural leader on the field and the Cowboys defense didn’t miss a beat.
With Carter healthy, Dallas has two of the best young linebackers in the NFL.
1. Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant was not only one of the best Cowboys in 2012, but also one of the best receivers in the league. Bryant showed his great potential with a productive year that included 92 receptions for nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The dynamic Bryant had a slow start to the year with only two scores through the first nine weeks. He then exploded in the second half of the season, taking over games single-handedly.
Besides Jason Witten, Bryant became Romo’s favorite target in the passing game and was Dallas’ best big-play threat.
Bryant has discussed this offseason the potential for him to gain more than 2,000 yards through the air. Although this may sound ridiculous to some, Bryant has the talent and physical prowess to flirt with these types of numbers.