The beginning of the Dallas Cowboys 2020-21 football campaign is little over a week away and there is steady optimism this team will improve on their 8-8 season.
Pundits have always glorified how talented a roster Dallas has year-to-year and many believe, with the addition of head coach Mike McCarty, this will be the year talent and production intertwine.
In ESPN’s ranking of “predicting the best 100 players for the 2020 NFL season Dallas slotted six players amongst the league’s best.
65. DeMarcus Lawrence | DE (7th ranked) | 2019 rank: 30
2020 projection: 56 tackles, 11 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
After signing a lucrative deal before the start of the 2019 season, Lawrence saw his sack numbers drop from 24.5 in 2017 and 2018 to just five sacks last season. According to ESPN metrics, “Lawrence posted a 25.8% pass rush win rate in 2019, good for fourth best in the NFL.
60. Tyron Smith | OT (3rd ranked) | 2019 rank: 50
Even a slight dropoff for Tyron Smith is better than majority of offensive tackles in the NFL. Health remains a concern as he has missed three games in each of the past four seasons. He gave up just one sack and two hurries last season. Smith has been a consistent All-Pro and Pro Bowler — when healthy. One more Pro Bowl appearance would be his eighth, the most in team history.
56. Amari Cooper | WR (8th ranked) | 2019 rank: 54
2020 projection: 75 catches, 1,069 yards, 7 TDs
Inconsistencies on the road last year hurt Amari Cooper’s case for a higher spot, but since he arrived in Dallas in 2018 he has been a reliable weapon for Dak Prescott. His route running is unquestionably his best trait.
45. Zack Martin | G (2nd ranked) | 2019 rank: 39
Martin’s pass block win rate of 95.6% when lined up at guard ranked fifth among those players last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Martin has not committed more than two penalties in a season dating back to 2015. He has been nothing short of elite since being drafted in 2014 as he has made the Pro Bowl every year since. Martin allowed one sack in 405 pass-blocking plays in 2019.
24. Ezekiel Elliott | RB (3rd ranked) | 2019 rank: 15
2020 projection: 1,237 yards, 456 receiving yards, 12 scrimmage TDs
With the addition of CeeDee Lamb in this year’s draft, excitement has buzzed around Dallas can reach three 1,000-yard receivers. Possibly because the rise of Dak Prescott and the slight step down Elliott took in 2019. He had just four carries of 20 yards or more last season. But he still is an elite back that poses a threat to defenses. Moreso, a lot of his short runs could be attributed to how predictable Dallas offense was at times and having to battle back from deficits in many of last year’s games. With defenses not being able to load the box as often this year, Zeke could be in for a very dynamic year.
20. Dak Prescott | QB (6th ranked) | 2019 rank: NR
2020 projection: 4,291 yards, 27 TDs, 11 INT (248 rushing yards)
Dak is coming off a career year in which he passed for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. Dallas lost a pair of receivers in Randall Cobb and Jason Witten in free agency, but replaced them with 17th overall draft pick CeeDee Lamb. There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL better positioned to captain a high-powered offense more than Prescott. And the fact he is playing for another pay day may spell trouble for opposing defenses.
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