Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray among top rookies

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
1:48
PM ET
ESPN's Mel Kiper ranked the top 20 rookies from the 2011 season, and Cowboys right tackle Tyron Smith (12) and running back DeMarco Murray (21) made the list.

Kiper also ranks former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller second behind Cam Newton. Former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton checks in at No. 5.

The Cowboys got significant playing time from young players in 2011. We rank the top rookies of 2011.

5. Bill Nagy. He earned a starting job coming out of training camp as the left guard before suffering a fractured right ankle at New England on Oct. 16. Nagy, however, might have to fight for a starting spot with the Cowboys trying to improve the interior of the offensive line next season.

4. Alex Albright. The outside linebacker was one of four undrafted rookies to make the squad. He played mainly special teams but saw some defensive snaps late in the season. He will get a chance to play more in 2012 with the possible departure of outside linebacker Anthony Spencer to free agency. He can also play a little inside, so that gives him flexibility.

3. Dan Bailey. The kicker made 26 consecutive field goals, tied for second-best mark in franchise history. Bailey also won some big games and most importantly beat out David Buehler for the field goal job. Bailey converted 86.5 percent of his field goals and tied for fifth in the league with 135 points made in 2011.

2. DeMarco Murray. He burst onto the scene with that franchise-record 252-yard rushing effort against St. Louis. Murray led rookie running backs with 897 yards and the closest anyone came to him was Washington's Roy Helu and his 640. Murray enters training camp as the starting running back.

1. Tyron Smith. The ninth pick of the draft was a solid performer at right tackle and most likely will move to the premier position of the line, left tackle, in 2011. Smith's ability to adjust during the course of the season was one of his biggest assets, and he can only get better.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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