Cole Beasley fits bill as Cowboys' most underrated, too

IRVING, Texas -- Last week, Football Outsiders put together a list of each team's most underrated players.

For the Dallas Cowboys, it was defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who had a team-best eight sacks last year.

That's a good choice. Lawrence had a solid second season. But with a four-game suspension hitting this year and a recovery from offseason back surgery still ongoing, it will be interesting to see how much time he needs to really get going in 2016.

It got me to thinking about other underrated players on the Cowboys' roster.

Despite all of his accolades, I could make an argument Jason Witten is underrated even as he enters his 14th season. I can make a case for Travis Frederick being underrated despite the acclaim of the Cowboys' offensive line. Same goes for Orlando Scandrick, whose value rose last season when he did not play because of torn knee ligaments suffered in training camp. If you want to go down to role players, I could say James Hanna is underrated or Anthony Hitchens, too.

Football Outsiders came up with this definition: "'Underrated' is an adjective that gets thrown around a lot when we talk about sports, but it can mean a lot of things. Sometimes, an underrated player is a quality player who isn't well known. Other times, it means a player who most fans think is good but who is really great."

If they asked me to come up with an underrated player, I would have gone with Cole Beasley.

He set career highs in catches (52), yards (536) and touchdowns (five) last season. His yardage and touchdown totals have increased in every season from his previous year. He caught passes from four quarterbacks last year in Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore.

He came to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent and ended up signing a four-year contract that included $7 million in guaranteed money.

In today's game, offenses focus on slot players because they can get them in space easily. Beasley does not possess great size but his quickness and savvy allow him to work the soft part of coverages. He and Romo see the game the same way. A lot of the throws to Beasley are high-percentage passes. He can keep drives going and he has big-play ability.

In an offense filled with stars like Romo, Dez Bryant, Witten and potentially Ezekiel Elliott, Beasley's importance should not be overlooked.