- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Football Outsiders isn't too impressed with the Cowboys' collection of young talent. The Cowboys come in at No. 20 in FO's ESPN Insider rankings of 25-and-under talent.
The comment on the Cowboys:
Tyron Smith was an instant hit at right tackle and should be a building block on the offensive line for years to come. Phil Costa's snaps were a source of comedy at times last season, but even if he has to move inside to guard, the Cowboys have to like what they saw of him overall. Like their colleagues in Washington, they should be able to cobble a decent run game together between Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray, two young backs. Oh, and did we mention WR Dez Bryant? The Cowboys still have a few long-term holes to start digging their way out of, but with CBs Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in tow, the secondary looks much better than it did in February.
Wondering why rising star inside linebacker Sean Lee isn't mentioned? He turns 26 on Sunday, and only players who will be 25 or younger when the season starts were considered in these rankings.
It's easy to envision the Cowboys shooting up these rankings over the next couple of years. It all depends on the development of Bryant, Smith and Claiborne, three potential stars at premium positions.
The Cowboys gave Claiborne, 22, the highest grade of any cornerback in the draft since Deion Sanders. Expectations don't get much higher than that.
Smith, 21, is still the youngest player on the Cowboys' roster. He was the Cowboys' best offensive lineman before he could legally buy a beer and projects as a perennial Pro Bowler.
Bryant is entering his third NFL season, but he's only 23 years old. He's younger than all of the primary competitors for the Cowboys' third receiver job, including rookie fifth-round pick Danny Coale. The ceiling for Bryant is so high that he's considered an underachiever after ranking 30th in receiving yards and tied for sixth in touchdown catches in his second season.