Which Dallas Cowboys Players Deserve to Be in the Pro Bowl?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 02:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys and  Jason Witten #82 celebrate a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Cowboys Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Next week, we'll get the full Pro Bowl rosters, and people will care. They shouldn't, because fan voting has ruined what would otherwise be a fun and fair process for determining who the league's best players are each year. 

That's another reason why it's significantly more impressive to be named to an All-Pro team than a Pro Bowl team. 

Regardless, there's a lot of fan interest. So allow me to give you a rundown of Pro Bowl candidates on the 2012 Dallas Cowboys roster, along with my take on who actually deserves the nod.


Pro Bowlers

Dez Bryant: I fear the late surge will hurt him in terms of votes, but then again, he's a Cowboy. Bryant's been one of the best two or three receivers in the league during the second half of the season, and all 10 of his touchdowns have come in the second half of games. He should join Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Julio Jones on the NFC team. 

Jason Witten: He's going to break, and maybe even shatter, the single-season tight end record for catches. Considering his slow start due to a serious spleen injury, that's amazing. He's the NFC's starter.

Anthony Spencer: I actually put Spencer on the team over DeMarcus Ware. Do I believe this will happen? No, but Spencer's had a better year in almost every way. He's the best run-defending outside linebacker in the NFL.


Close, but no cigar

DeMarcus Ware: Spencer and Aldon Smith have to be no-brainers, and I'm giving Clay Matthews the nod over Ware.

Jason Hatcher: It's rare for 3-4 defensive ends to make the Pro Bowl cut, but Hatcher was playing like a star during the first half of the season. He's since faded, but this might have been his best year as a pro.

Sean Lee and Bruce Carter: Neither should be eligible because they didn't play enough due to injury, but both were performing at a Pro Bowl level before being placed on injured reserve. Lee was on track to be a first-team All-Pro inside linebacker. 

Nate Livings: In terms of sheer run-blocking ability, he's had a really strong year. In his first season with the Cowboys, the veteran guard was the most consistent offensive lineman on the team. Problem is he was responsible for far too much pressure to be a Pro Bowler. 


Not even close despite their reputations

Tony Romo: Too many turnovers and off days for Romo. His interceptions are up, while his touchdowns, passer rating and yards per attempt are all down. 

Miles Austin: It wasn't close to as ugly as 2011, and Austin had some very good games, but he's not playing at a Pro Bowl level. 

Brandon Carr: One of the biggest signings of the offseason has been beat way too often to be considered an All-Star. They need him to be more consistent next season. 

Jay Ratliff: Injuries ruined his 2012 season, but Ratliff is past his prime at this point anyway. Don't expect him to get back to Hawaii.