ESPN Insider NFL future rankings: Cowboys No. 24

The Cowboys might have only one playoff win in the last 16 seasons, but the franchise’s future is bright, right?

Probably not, according to the ESPN Insider NFL Future Power Rankings.

The Cowboys came in at No. 24 in the rankings compiled by the committee of Herm Edwards, Mel Kiper, Mike Sando, Gary Horton, Matt Williamson and Field Yates. The rankings were based on grading each franchise from 1-10 in five categories – roster (with an emphasis on youth), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching -- that were applied in a weighted formula.

The committee's grades for the Cowboys, with my take on each category:

Roster – 5.8

I’d have bumped this grade up a bit based on the young talent that the Cowboys have compiled in the previous few drafts. The Cowboys have potential blossoming stars in WR Dez Bryant, LT Tyron Smith, MLB Sean Lee, OLB Bruce Carter and CB Morris Claiborne. There aren’t many teams that have that many young players with such high potential.

Quarterback – 6.5

Ten teams got higher grades at quarterback. That seems about right for Romo, considering his age (33) and 1-6 record in win-and-go-home games. But Sando smartly notes in the Insider piece that the anti-clutch Romo narrative ignores his remarkable efficiency late in games, citing the fact that only Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees rank higher in fourth-quarter Total QBR since 2008. Romo doesn’t have the playoff results to prove it, but the bottom line is he’s good enough to give the Cowboys a chance to contend.

Draft – 4.5

Mel Kiper has huge concerns about what he considers a major reach for Travis Frederick in the first round. The Cowboys were thrilled with a draft that looks great based on their board. They got three guys graded among the top 25 – Frederick, Terrance Williams and Gavin Escobar – as well as No. 47 B.W. Webb, No. 50 J.J. Wilcox and No. 67 Joseph Randle. We’ll re-visit in a few years to determine whether this means the Cowboys got great value or did a poor job scouting.

Front office – 4.7

This is a pretty generous grade, given that Jerry Jones and the dysfunction he creates has been the one constant during the Cowboys’ long spell of mediocrity. The GM deserved to lose his job long ago.

Coaching – 4.5

If Jason Garrett doesn’t prove himself capable of coaching a playoff team this season, the Cowboys will almost certainly search for the eighth head coach of Jones’ ownership tenure. It’s time for the process to pay off.