What to Make of ESPN’s Future Ranking of Dallas Cowboys

By Jake Carapella
Dallas Cowboys 2013 Minicamp
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys were ranked 24th in ESPN’s Insider NFL future Power Rankings. The rankings – compiled by Herm Edwards, draft expert Mel Kiper Jr, Mike Sando, Gary Williamson and Field Yates – grade each franchise in five separate categories, including current roster, draft, quarterback, front office, and coaching.

The team received grades of 5.8 on the roster front, 6.5 at quarterback, 4.5 at draft, 4.7 at front office, 4.5 at coaching with all grades being out of 10.

The Cowboys haven’t been the most successful team in recent years – in fact far from it – but 24 does seem too low for this group.

The draft, coaching, and front office grades are honestly tough to argue with. For every Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, and DeMarco Murray drafted, there’s a 2009 Cowboy draft class that was abysmal, with none of the 12 drafted on the current roster.

On the coaching front, there’s really no surprise with that ranking. Jason Garrett and Wade Phillips, the last Cowboys coach, have been known for not getting the most out of talent rich rosters, constantly underachieving. Not to mention the debacle last month that was figuring out who was going to call the plays for the Cowboys this upcoming season.

The front office is also no shock. While Jerry Jones is one of the best owners in sports, his ineptitude as a General Manager is no surprise.

Quarterback receiving a 6.5 grade might come as a surprise to some people, but let’s remember that this is a futures ranking. Tony Romo is 33, and backup Kyle Orton is soon to be 31, so the position is definitely a question mark if you’re looking down the line.

What is a surprise to me, though, in this ranking is the roster grade.

Just because they have lacked results in recent years, the Cowboys haven’t lacked talent. The 2013 roster is no different, and it is stocked with the most young talent in recent memory in my opinion – probably going back to 2005 when Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Terence Newman, Bradie James, and Roy Williams were the team’s backbone.

Bryant is a star in the making. Lee and Carter at linebacker could be tandem Pro Bowlers. Murray, if he’s healthy, has Pro Bowl capability, Claiborne could be the team’s next Kevin Smith at corner, don’t forget Brandon Carr either, and Smith is already one of the league’s best offensive tackles with limitless potential at just 22 years of age.

But the Cowboys have future unknowns at key positions. Barry Church will be one of the starting safeties, but we don’t really know what he is capable of. Although Smith is there on the offensive line, the only true future you could pinpoint upfront other than him is Travis Frederick.

Witten is 31, and with second round draft choice Gavin Escobar obviously yet to play a game, it’s uncertain what the future holds at tight end.

Ware is 30 and could have a few more great seasons left, but beyond that, it isn’t known yet who will take that position over once he is gone.

So if you look at the ranking and then examine the categories for the current group of Cowboys, you do indeed kind of get a mixed result. Potential stars but limitations on the coaching and front office create an overall verdict that puts them at 24 out of 32 teams.

But that means that there are 23 teams with brighter futures than the Cowboys?

23 teams with budding stars at wide receiver, cornerback, both linebacker positions, offensive tackle, and potentially running back?

For what it’s worth, I don’t see it.

Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on  Twitter @JKCSports1, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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