Through four preseason games, we have a pretty good idea of which players are getting the job done and which are underachieving for the Cowboys. But that’s not always the case because our eyes—and our memories—can deceive us. Unless you watch hours of game film, you can’t possibly witness every snap for every player; you might see a few splash plays from a particular guy and conclude he’s playing well when he’s really not. Similarly, there are a handful of players who are flying under the radar this preseason. I listed a few of them below.
LT Tyron Smith
When players don’t rack up stats in the traditional manner, it’s typically good when we don’t hear much about them. That’s true for Smith, who hasn’t allowed a pressure all season. The 22-year old is entering his third NFL season at an age when many players are rookies. I think he has an outside chance to land in the Pro Bowl.
RT/RG Doug Free
I’m not a huge fan of Free, but he’s really played well in the preseason. He hasn’t given up any sacks or pressure on Romo from either right tackle or right guard. It’s too early to tell if Free has really improved or if he’s just been kind of lucky, but I think the ‘Boys should keep him at guard for the time being. He surprisingly held his ground inside on Saturday night.
LB Brandon Magee
I talked about Magee in a previous article. Prior to the Bengals game, Magee was leading the entire NFL in tackles this preseason. He unfortunately suffered a setback with a concussion last week, but he was on fire with a tackle on 19.6 percent of his snaps through three games. In my opinion, he needs to make the roster, even ahead of veterans like Ernie Sims or Justin Durant. I’m not sure the Cowboys can sneak him onto the practice squad.
DT Jerome Long
Long is quietly dominating as a pass-rusher on the inside. Despite not recording a sack, he has eight pressures and a quarterback hit through four games. The second-year player out of San Diego State has posted a pressure on 11.3 percent of his 71 snaps as a pass-rusher. In comparison, Jason Hatcher’s 2012 pressure rate was 6.4 percent. Long won’t be able to maintain that rate forever, but it’s a high number with the equivalent of basically two full games of pass-rush snaps under his belt.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.