Proving how devastating the loss of a franchise quarterback can be to a good team, the Dallas Cowboys are sending four players to the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl despite a disappointing campaign. Most teams with the record Dallas has won't be sending many, if any at all, representatives to Hawaii this season. The vaunted Cowboys offensive line will send three members, LT Tyron Smith, RG Zack Martin and C Travis Frederick. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys offensive line has given up the least amount of pressures of any line in the league for 2015. Combined with them switching mid-season from a ZBS-centric run blocking scheme to a Power man to suit new lead rusher Darren McFadden, and it more than makes sense for the group to be heavily rewarded.
In addition, placekicker Dan "Split'Em" Bailey got the nod as well.
Only Carolina (10), Arizona (7), New England (7), Seattle (7), Kansas City (5) and Cincinnati (5) had more selections than Dallas. Denver is also sending four representatives, including former Cowboys Demarcus Ware.
Drafted with the 9th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Tyron Smith will be making his third career and third consecutive appearance in the All-Star exhibition. Smith is widely considered as one of the top two tackles in the league. Second-year pro Zack Martin will be making his second consecutive appearance, and is the first Cowboy player since Emmitt Smith to get the designation in their first two professional seasons. Travis Frederick is also making his second consecutive appearance in his third season. Frederick was the leading vote-getter at the center position.
The only newcomer is Dan Bailey, who is making his first appearance despite being the most accurate kicker in NFL history for the last two seasons, since he qualified for the designation. Bailey has made 96.6% of his kicks this year, raising his career average to 91%, nailing all 5 of his attempts from beyond 50 yards. Despite the NFL moving the extra point back to 33 yards this year and causing havoc for several kickers, Bailey continues to be perfect there, nailing all 201 of his career XP attempts.
Many Cowboys fans and national media are voicing their thoughts that Sean Lee could've made a Pro Bowl. However, Lee is listed as an outside linebacker, therefore he competes with the 3-4 outside linebackers who rack up sack numbers. Unfortunately, the NFL is still a ways from naming a position "Edge Rusher", which would combine 4-3 DEs and 3-4 Outside Linebackers into one category. The only two true outside linebackers nominated were Thomas Davis of Carolina and Jamie Collins of New England, both more deserving than Lee's 2015 campaign.
For a complete list on Pro Bowl selections, go here.
The Pro Bowl will be played the week prior to the Super Bowl, January 31st, in Honolulu. Former Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin will coach one team, with fellow HOF'er Jerry Rice coaching the other. As has been the case in recent years, the conference designation is gone, and there will be a draft to select the teams held January 26th and 27th, with the skill position players being drafted on the second day.