SBNation.com's Ryan van Bibber has been running a series over the last week where he has ranked individual defensive units for all 32 NFL teams. So far, he's checked in with Cornerbacks, Safeties and most recently, the Linebacking Corps. Depending on your point of view, the Cowboys have surprisingly, or deservingly, ranked very well in these rankings. For a defensive unit that didn't end the year on a great note (read: collapsed), it's interesting to see such accolades heaped on them from someone that doesn't follow or cover the team.
For years, it has been said that the Cowboys have been overrated by national media, that the sum of their parts has never equaled the hype that has been thrown upon them. I know from the comment section of several Blogging The Boys articles; a lot of our fans don't want this acknowledgement for fear that the team's players believe the press clippings and start thinking they are already capable of achieving greatness and don't work as hard for it.
Regardless, people aren't going to stop doing their rankings. It's a great passage of time during the NFL offseason (and during non press conference days of the regular season).
So, do you agree with van Bibber's take on the 2012 Cowboys? Take a look at the three groups he's evaluated so far.
Anthony Spencer has been an effective all-around outside linebacker. DeMarcus Ware is their top defender. Sean Lee emerged as a very good inside linebacker last season, and the addition of free agent Dan Connor rounds out a fearsome bunch.
(Writers note: I personally believe uber-athletic Bruce Carter gets more snaps than Dan Connor)
12. Dallas Cowboys
Gerald Sensabaugh may not be among the superstar safeties in the league, but he is an essential part of Dallas' defense. Free agent addition Brodney Pool knows Rob Ryan from their Cleveland days. The more physical Barry Church could still beat him out for the starting job.
(Writers note: My early money is on Barry Church winning the free safety job and expect rookie Matt Johnson to take Church's 2011 blitzer role)
Best Player: Brandon Carr
Visions of Eli Manning throwing practice reps against the secondary no doubt influenced Dallas' offseason plans. Not only did the Cowboys sign a legitimate No. 1 corner in free agency in Carr, they drafted one as well, trading up to the sixth pick for Morris Claiborne. Orlando Scandrick looks like a lock in the slot role. Disgruntled Mike Jenkins could be dealt during training camp. If they can find a path to appeasement, keeping Jenkins gives them even more depth.