Cowboys' youth movement has changed tide

IRVING, Texas – Since Jason Garrett took over as coach on a full-time basis, the goal of the Dallas Cowboys was to get younger.

Garrett constantly referenced the tough decisions to part ways with veterans Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Andre Gurode and Kyle Kosier in 2011 and ’12. Last offseason, the Cowboys said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin and made no attempt to re-sign Jason Hatcher.

It’s one thing to say goodbye to talented players who could have played their best football, but teams have to do a good job in securing those younger, cheaper replacements.

ESPN Insider Matt Williamson, ranked all 32 teams based on their talent aged 25 and under and the Cowboys checked in at No. 21.

That might be a tad low or it speaks to what kind of shape the game is in with so many teams blessed to have such young talent.

Williamson’s top three Cowboys under the age of 25 are no surprise: Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. All three just played in their first Pro Bowl. Smith and Martin were named All Pro. Tyrone Crawford and Terrance Williams rounded out the top five.

He also made note of guys like Rolando McClain, who will be a free agent, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Hitchens and Cole Beasley.

I can’t give away all the juicy tidbits, but if you’re an Insider, click here.

Again, Williamson has these guys at No. 21. Considering the futures of this quintet, the Cowboys appear OK. In the NFC East, Philadelphia checked in at No. 16, but I'd put the Cowboys' top five against the Eagles' top five. The New York Giants checked in at No. 25 and the Washington Redskins were last.

Garrett has said that the goal of the team is to continue to build.

The drafts have been better in the last two seasons and the Cowboys will need to continue to hit on players if they want to be true contenders as Tony Romo and Jason Witten move to the final few holes of their careers.