Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise in 2014
As mediocre as the Dallas Cowboys have been in recent seasons, they have positioned their roster such that they have a lot of young players whose stock is on the rise. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Cowboys will be an improved team in 2014, because certain players—like Tyrone Crawford, for example—have contributed so little in the past that their stock has nowhere to go but up.
Nonetheless, Dallas is counting on a handful of players whose stock is rising. These players—the ones who have shown signs of production but have not yet broken out—need to step up this season.
Let’s take a look at five players whose stock is on the rise for the Cowboys in 2014, starting with No. 5.
5. LT Tyron Smith
We already know he is one of the game’s premier young offensive linemen, but this is a reminder that he’s still on the way up. Actually, there’s a really good chance that he isn’t even close to his ceiling, since he is still just 23 years old. Yes, headed into his fourth NFL season, Smith is more than two years younger than wide receiver Terrance Williams, who was a rookie last year.
As well as Smith played last year, expect another big jump from him at an age when some players are just coming into the league.
4. WR Terrance Williams
Since wide receiver Terrance Williams was drafted, I’ve maintained that his ceiling might not be as high as people think, since he was 23 years old in his rookie year. Even though it was his first year in the NFL, we would expect him to produce better numbers than the average rookie because of his age.
His final rookie line of 44/736/5 was better than expected, though, and he’s very likely to improve upon those numbers this year. With Miles Austin out of Dallas and defenses figuring to do their best to take Dez Bryant out of games, Williams should see a decent number of targets and a high level of efficiency in his second season.
He’s still an unlikely candidate to be a true No. 1, but there’s no doubt that his stock is pointing up right now.
3. LB DeVonte Holloman
Linebacker DeVonte Holloman figures to be one of the beneficiaries of Sean Lee’s season-ending ACL tear. He could very well start inside for Dallas, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com, or he could stay on the outside.
Last year, Holloman had 26 tackles and two sacks in 214 snaps. Extrapolate those numbers over a full season’s worth of plays, and you’re looking at more than 100 tackles. Obviously, we should expect a decrease in efficiency with more playing time, but he is in line for a big jump in overall production.
2. DT Tyrone Crawford
The Cowboys had high hopes for defensive tackle/end Tyrone Crawford in 2013 before he went down with a season-ending injury in camp. He’s had plenty of time to recover, and whether he starts or not, signs point to him having a sizable role in 2014.
So what’s to like about a third-round pick with 20 career tackles and no sacks? Well, he’s big (6’4”, 275 pounds) and long (33.75-inch arms) and was fairly productive at Boise State with 13.5 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in two seasons, according to Sports Reference.
Crawford’s biggest potential impact should come as an undersized defensive tackle; let’s hope the Cowboys give him the chance to play alongside Henry Melton as a second 3-technique defensive tackle.
1. TE Gavin Escobar
In his rookie year, tight end Gavin Escobar totaled only nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The lack of production was due primarily to a lack of usage and not a lack of efficiency. Despite drafting him in the second round, the Cowboys had him on the field for only 207 plays in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.
Escobar was targeted 15 times, catching nine passes and averaging 8.93 yards per target. In comparison, starter Jason Witten averaged 7.67 yards per target. Escobar has the potential to be something special for Dallas, particularly in the red zone, but he won’t get there until the team stops force-feeding the ball to Witten.