Dallas Cowboys: Who will have a breakout year?

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06: Terrelle Pryor #11 of the Cleveland Browns drops a pass in the first half against Kavon Frazier #35 of the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06: Terrelle Pryor #11 of the Cleveland Browns drops a pass in the first half against Kavon Frazier #35 of the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have several up and coming talented players, but who is poised for a breakout season? Let’s take a look at some of the candidates.

It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are a very young and talented team. On both sides of the ball, there are several players who have the potential to be future Pro Bowlers.

What makes it even more interesting is how the Dallas Cowboys find hidden gems in free agency. Some of these players turn out to be outstanding as well such as current wide receiver Cole Beasley.

Then there were former Cowboys’ players who were unsigned free agents and became really good players, like offensive lineman Ronald Leary and safety Barry Church. Those two players became linchpins on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.

But with so much talent and overall expectations heaped upon some players, the question is which Cowboys player will have a breakout season?

When it comes to answering this question, there are a plethora of players to choose from. Since the Cowboys defense has so many candidates, let’s focus on that side of the ball to make my case.

On the defensive side of the ball, you have linebackers Jaylon Smith and rookies Leighton Vander Esch, and Chris Covington.

Then there are the defensive linemen: Taco Charlton, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dorance Armstrong, Jr, Tyrone Crawford, Kony Ealy, Randy Gregory (if he plays), David Irving, Demarcus Lawrence, Jihad Ward, and defensive backs Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie,  Xavier Woods, Byron Jones, Anthony Brown, Marquez White, Kavon Frazier, Jameill Showers, and Duke Thomas.

Side note: I added Tank Lawrence to the list because ole big boy Tank needs a repeat performance of 2017 when he tallied 14.5 sacks, 35 tackles, and four forced fumbles.

Hey, I like Tank, but the jury is still out on him.

Basically, the Cowboys defense is loaded with players that could have that signature breakout season, regardless of how you perceive them. Further, the secondary has an abundance of talent.

Entering their second season, expectations are high for Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods. That’s because the trio showed flashes of success last season. Lewis played in 15 games last season (started 7) recorded one interception and had 48 tackles.

Awuzie played in 10 games (started in 6), had one interception, 14 tackles, and one forced fumble.

Awuzie proved that he could play physical with opposing offenses best receiver. If not for a hamstring injury, Awuzie would’ve showcased more of his skill set. Playing in only 10 games, he showed that he is going to be a future Pro Bowler.

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is so high on Woods potential that the starting free safety position is his to lose. Last season, Woods played in all 16 games (starting in four), and was awesome in slot coverage. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked Woods second in the NFL for allowing 0.54 yards per covering in the slot.

If Woods balls out in training camp and in preseason, trading for Earl Thomas will be an afterthought.

Any three of them could have a breakout season or all three of them could perform at an extremely high level. If they can stay healthy, I believe all three of them are poised for a big year.

In addition, Brown, Frazier, and White have the ability to elevate their play. Brown played very well during his rookie season, recording one interception, one forced fumble, defended eight passes, and played in all 16 games (started in 10).

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Despite Brown’s second season’s struggles, he recorded an interception, defended 11 passes, forced a fumble, a sack, and had 45 tackles. Yes, he was benched, too, but he digressed because he played in the slot instead of his natural position, the outside corner position.

That blame goes on the coaching staff more so than Brown. But Brown is not the player to sleep on, especially playing in that all-important third-year of his contract. There’s a lot of motivation to play to the best of his abilities.

One thing Frazier exhibited during his sophomore season is that he’s a thumper! He will lay the wood out on you like you stole his lunch money. Frazier played in 15 games last season, mainly as a reserve. But when Frazier’ feet hit the ground, so did opposing running backs, tight ends, wide receivers.

Frazier needs to work on his coverage skills, but I can see him taking the next step and being a day one starter sooner rather than later. The upside is there be a special player.

White played on Dallas’ practice squad last season, but the former Florida State Seminole is expected to battle for a starting corner position. As a fan of Atlantic Coast football ACC, I watched White play every Saturday, making spectacular plays on a regular basis.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Passing game will be key in 2018

White has playmaking abilities. The only reason why White isn’t in the starting lineup is because of the aforementioned players who play the same position.

Don’t be surprised if White becomes a starter and has a breakout season. The potential is there for him and so many others Dallas’ defense.